Thursday, December 8, 2011

Another busy day for LOEP

What a fantastic day! We had a wonderful day today in Monrovia and Paynesville. The day started off with a meeting with our dear friend Archel Bernard at her office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Archel is doing a great job in her position with the Philanthropy Secretariat. Her office works with different NGOs and projects in Liberia - connecting funders with projects. From her office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we went down the road to the Hope for the Deaf School in Sinkor.

Hope for the Deaf is one of my absolute favorite places in Liberia. The school is housed on the Methodist Compound in Monrovia. There is a great video package on our website (www.loeproject.org) that our friend and video journalist Derick Snyder put together. The school includes grades Kindergarten through 9 with a vocational training program. The students are learning shoe making and tailoring. The tailoring component is new since our last visit. It was so wonderful to see the students again this year, working hard in their classes. They greeted us very warmly, signing excitedly. They were especially pleased that I could spell my name for them using ASL, and was eager to learn to spell (sign) each of their names.

After we left the Hope School, we continued down Tubman Boulevard to Paynesville, a suburb of Monrovia, to visit our friends at CRM. Children's Relief Ministry Orphanage was one of LOEP's first partners, one of our original partner schools. Things are progressing at CRM, the current project underway is a security wall around the property. The children and Matron greeted us very warmly and gave us a tour of the facility. We were particularly pleased to see the new tiled bathrooms at the orphanage, and renovated latrines. Some of the children we met during our first visit four years ago are still, and it is wonderful to see them as healthy teens and tweens now.

Our day continued as we visited the New Life School (previously called Christ Redeemer School). LOEP was introduced to the New Life School through on of our ToTs, Mr. Emmanuel Gbah. Mr. Gbah teaches adult literacy at the school, and is a member of the supporting church. Please read our previous blog entry dated April 6, 2011 for more information about this remarkable community school and the dedicated educators working there.

I would love to share more about each of these stops, but it has been an awfully long day, and I am pretty exhausted (mentallyy and physically). Will try to post pics tomorrow!


We seem to have a good (everything is relative) internet connection at the moment, so I'm going to try and post some pictures. Random pictures posted quickly before I head off to a meeting - just a sampling for you all to see some of the sights we have been enjoying!

Nursery students at AAMOM school are practicing their ABCs in the brand new school that opened this year.

The ToTs (Trainers of Teachers) worked very hard preparing for the first Teacher Training Network Conference. They did a fantastic job preparing and presenting. We are so proud!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pomp and Circumstance

Today was graduation day at Lott Carey. Yes, in December. No, not students. It was the teachers who were graduating today, and the LOEP team was beyond thrilled to not only be present for the ceremony, but also be a part of this extremely joyous occasion.

The teachers graduating today received their "C" certificate in teaching from the Liberian Cooperative Standard Education School System (LICOSESS). The 28 graduates are teachers from schools in Brewerville, Royesville, and Sinkor; 14 of the graduates are teachers at Lott Carey Baptist Mission School. The LICOSESS certificate program is a strenuous 14-month program, where teachers (students in this case) attend classes every evening and all day Saturday. These hard-working individuals were attending classes and working on their own studies while maintaining full-time teaching jobs, sometimes extra jobs, taking care of their families, church, and other community obligations. The amount of dedication that the teachers have is beyond admirable - it is amazing!

We were so proud to see all of these dedicated educators graduate, most especially our friends from Lott Carey. Teachers we have had the pleasure of working with in LOEP training workshops for the past three years as we have seen them progress.

The formal ceremony was very touching - made even better by the fact that the students at Lott Carey were present to see their very own teachers graduate! (I think the highlight for them may have been seeing their teachers process in cap and gown, judging by the giggles and cheers.) The Master of Ceremonies was Mrs. Rosa Allen, VP of Instruction at Lott Carey School. The Commencement Address was given by our very own Beth Iden. (If I wasn't bursting with pride for the graduates, I sure was bursting with pride for my own Ma Beth!) The address, themed to "build a community of learners", was extremely well-received by both graduates and students. While Mom addressed the graduates, I had the pleasure of handing each of them their certificates as they crossed the stage. What a thrill to see their proud and smiling faces at that special milestone!

Following the ceremony, the graduates, guests, administration and students filed outside of the chapel for pictures and pinning of candy. (Pinning candy and other treats such as flowers is a way of recognizing special people on special days such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, and graduation day.)

A special day in a beautiful country, and what an honor to be a part of it!

The internet connection is too slow for pictures tonight, but I will try to upload some pictures of the graduates and ceremony tomorrow for all to enjoy!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The First Teacher Network Conference

The LOEP team takes off tomorrow for a quick one-week trip to Liberia!  We will be assisting LOEP Trainers of Teachers (the ToTs) with an exciting brand new project.
The first kick-off event of the Building a Community of Learners Teacher Training Network takes place next Wednesday. Sixty teachers from ten mission schools will meet at Lott Carey for the one day conference to take part in the event that will feature training and professional networking opportunities.  Two workshop sessions on education issues, large group sessions with guest speakers from Monrovia, and a luncheon are planned for the first conference of the newly forming network.   The network is open to teachers from the Lower Virginia area of Liberia who partner with LOEP and Liberia NOW (a Texas-based organization that establishes school libraries and trains librarians in Lower Virginia, Liberia).

Liberia NOW and LOEP stand ready to assist our partners in Liberia as they begin working together to build the new network and develop their own opportunities for professional development!

Watch this space for more on the fledgling Network!   Also coming are more pictures and some more very exciting reports on teacher training in Liberia!  Watch for it - we have a VERY busy week ahead!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

They Need a Bigger Boat!

From the beginning of our teacher training efforts, it was always the main goal of LOEP to assist our colleagues in developing their own professional development program.  We believe in the old adage, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime". We all recognized the value of helping to build a program that Liberian teachers could sustain on their own, conducting their own workshops, their own trainings and sharing their new methods and techniques with other teachers in Liberia.  Recent reports from Liberia show how far we have all come to reaching that goal.
Mr. Gbah's Report:
Emmanuel Gbah is a full-time teacher at CRM orphan school where he teachers fifth grade.  He is the married father of three girls who attend school (in a nation where less than half of all girls attend school), he is a deacon in his church, a full-time student at the University of Liberia and three nights a week he teachers adult literacy in a little school operated by his church.  He also mentors untrained, unpaid teachers in that same school, helping them develop classroom skills and techniques he has learned in the LOEP workshops.  Recently Mr. Gbah made the arduous journey to his rural home village for a rare visit with his family.  Such visits are far and few between for Liberians and it had been years since Mr. Gbah had seen his "little brothers".  The visit was a joyous occasion and a time for him to share with his family details of his life in the city of Monrovia.  He happily reports, "God could have it for me I was able to travel with some of my teaching materials" from LOEP workshops in the LOEP "teacher bag".  When he arrived in the village word of his visit and his life as a teacher in Monrovia spread.  He was asked to conduct a teacher training for teachers in the village school.  As he recounts, " this was a huge challenge for me ... because I was alone without consultant,but I accepted the challenge," and his detailed report on the workshop content is a most touching account of his experience. Despite his reservations and initial lack of confidence, he conducted a successful training and highlighted the most important concepts of, a) inclusiveness, b)effective teaching methods to replace harsh beatings and discipline, and c) helping children understand and process the information they are taught.  He wrote, “I firmly believe that the act of conducting the workshop was buttressing the dream of LOEP….by the help of God I was able to conduct the workshop ... and it was appreciated by the school administration.  I ... extend my thanks and appreciation to the LOEP team for their level of cooperation and for the knowledge that they continue to impact onto us teachers of Liberia".
Mr. Gbah's reference to the LOEP "team" includes all of those friends here in the US who support LOEP's teacher training and shipments of instructional materials, books and school supplies.  Mr. Gbah and his colleagues who have taken LOEP workshops know that there are hundreds of people here in the US they have never met who make the LOEP workshops possible. 

One by one our Liberian colleagues are "learning to fish" - they are going to need a bigger boat.  Please continue supporting LOEP teachers reaching their goals!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Waiting and Praying

Yesterday was a good day for democracy as Liberians went to the polls to vote for only the second time since the long war years. It was a peaceful day and, by all accounts, people waited patiently (as these ladies did) in long lines to cast their vote.

Although current President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's star status in the international community was confirmed with award of a Nobel Peace Prize last week, it is not clear that she is popular enough at home to receive 50% of the popular vote to avoid a run-off. Presidential candidates must receive 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off in November following the October election.

Since the war ended in Liberia, women have emerged as a powerful influence in political life. While many accept the new dynamic as part of Liberia's healthy growth into a successful, democratic nation, there is still resistance to the modern roles.

We are praying and hoping for a successful transition. Whether it is a second administration for President Ellen or, as is always possible in a Democracy, a new administration with new leadership - Liberia has come too far to turn back now!

For more election news and pictures go here: http://unmil.org/

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Festival of Leaves

LOEP is selling crafts today at the Festival of Leaves.  All proceeds will go to send school supplies to our partner schools.  If you are in the area visit us at our booth on Chester Street.

Thanks to the Northern Virginia Daily for a very nice article on LOEP and our teacher training efforts.  I wish that LOEP Teacher Trainers, Emmalee Iden, Phylis Benner, Karen Darner and Rachel Price could have been here to talk about training.  They are the teachers of the LOEP Teacher Training Team.   Their depth of experience and commitment to LOEP is such a blessing to our Liberian partners!

Peace Prize!

Congratulations to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee! The people of Liberia are extraordinary and these women give them  every reason to be proud.  A Peace Prize was certainly the last thing anyone expected for citizens of Liberia just a few short years ago when war waged and  women were second class citizens.  How far the nation has come and now the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to two women is proof of how far they can go on the strength of commitment to peace and depth of faith.  Congratulations to our friends, colleagues and partners in Liberia!  We stand with you as you approach election day and make even more remarkable progress as a nation.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Virginia to Africa - LOEP at the Festival of Leaves

Virginia to Africa
The Annual Festival of Leaves in Front Royal, VA draws thousands of visitors from the Baltimore/DC metro area who come for the Shenandoah Valley's spectacular Autumn leaf display. This year the Festival is held on Saturday, October 8 and LOEP will take part with Virginia to Africa - our booth highlighting Liberia, teacher training in Liberia and offering a unique mix of handcrafts for sale made by LOEP volunteers with all proceeds to support LOEP work.

The crafting ladies of Browntown Church put in many Saturday hours to produce handcrafted items for the annual Festival. Children's gift items will be available thanks to crafting Browntown ladies who brought their sewing machines and their skills on several Saturdays to produce adorable crayon rolls and ponytail holders. Festival goers looking for perfect stocking stuffers need go no further than Virginia to Africa.

Char Turner and Beth Iden have been crafting items to sell at the Farmer's Market in Harrisonburg, VA. For the past year their work has been available at the market and Char's original handmade prints have become very popular for their delightfully original folk art style. In addition to her original prints, Char also makes beautiful beeswax candles the old fashioned way - melting pure beeswax and dipping each wick repeatedly to produce high-quality candles that burn longer with less drip. Her work is much in demand at the Farmer's Market and, although she can barely keep up with that demand for her art and candles, she managed to make enough to offer candles and prints in LOEP's Virginia to Africa booth at the Festival to support LOEP teacher training work.

Beth's interest in African fabrics and wax prints gets stronger with each trip to Liberia and this year she has put that interest to work for LOEP. She uses the unique textiles in designing and crafting original designs for home decor items and accessories. Bags, table runners and mats, and eyeglass pouches with distinctive African flair will all be available at the Virginia to Africa booth for our friends who share the love of colorful African textiles and may be looking for unusual Christmas gifts.

Each LOEP item comes with a special, handmade bookmark that explains how the gift donation supports education for orphans and vulnerable children in Africa. The Virginia to Africa booth will also feature information on LOEP and pictures of the teachers and children with whom we work each year.

LOEP expenses to ship school supplies are rising and as our own U.S. economy dips, fundraising becomes more challenging. We get great support from our long-time friends and donors, but to remain viable we are finding new ways to keep up our three-times-a-year shipments of school supplies to Liberia. We are also finding great opportunities to make new friends for LOEP. Stop by the Virginia to Africa booth at the Festival of Leaves - we would love to see you!
Bring your checkbook and do some shopping for special folks in your life who will appreciate the donation to help children in Liberia.

If you are interested in giving LOEP handcrafted items for gifts, contact us through www.loeproject.org for details. Some items pictured on the LOEP Facebook page.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Almost time for the May Shipment!

These foam puzzles are currently available at Staples for just one dollar each! They make wonderful educational tools for both young and older students. If you're near a Staples, please pick some up and send them to LOEP...there is still time to include these in the May shipment!
Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Meeting A Community's Education Needs

600 children and as many as 35 adults attend Christ Redeemer International's school every day. 

A neighborhood church operates this school constructed of grass mat walls and plastic tarp roofing.  Classes are held each weekday in three separate sessions to accommodate the 600 children who attend the four room building.  An additional evening session is held for adult literacy classes.   Those classes are regularly attended by up to 35 adults from the surrounding community who attend despite long working hours during the day, difficult transportation and no electricity to light the evening study hours.  Teachers for both the school and literacy classes are church member volunteers who are incredibly committed to their church and their nation's progress.
The classrooms are crowded each day with children for whom education is a privilege and a high priority in their families.  There are no books or classroom instructional materials.  All instruction is accomplished by the teachers who copy notes and information from their own knowledge and memory of the subject matter onto the blackboard.  Students memorize the information from the blackboard and, for those fortunate enough to have a copy book and pencil, copy the information directly from the blackboard into their copy books for later review.
LOEP teacher, Mr. Gbah (barely visible on the right of the above picture), is a full time teacher at one of LOEP's partner orphan schools, is himself a full-time student at University of Liberia and volunteers each evening to teach adult literacy classes in this facility.  He is an active lay leader in the church and, as an educator, takes an acitve role in the success of the Christ Redeemer School.
As many as six students crowd onto each bench/desk in their classroom each day.  The broom is used to tamp down loose dust on the hard-packed dirt floor.  Liberian schools were still on Christmas break when the LOEP team visited in early January.  Literacy classes, however, were still being held and literacy students who arrived for their evening class while we visited are pictured below.
            Neighborhood children some of whom attend the CRS School

Science Test for grade 5/6
Some of the dedicated teachers at CRS who volunteer their time to teach in the community school.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reports from our friends indicate rising anxiety and uneasiness in Liberia as the situation in Ivory Coast remains unresolved and refugees pour into Liberian villages on the border. Making matters worse, those who would report the facts of a dangerously out-of-control situation in Ivory Coast have become targets of the political leader now in power there. The regime in Ivory Coast is encouraging its supporters, (many of whom are simply armed thugs manning checkpoints, border crossings, etc.) to harass, intimidate and even "arrest" journalists. His supporters and minions are following his lead in repressing truth. "Arrest" has an ominous meaning deep in the jungle around pourous and fluid border areas. There is no actual jail or court and the ones arrested are in the hands of and subject to the whim of a local, heavily armed "commander" who has absolute power and is accountable to no one.

LOEP has received horrifying first-hand reports from our Liberian friends in tense areas. They have experienced frightening and dangerous harassment and intimidation from border guards while trying to go about their work documenting Ivorian refugee flight and helping in the increasingly serious humanitarian crisis that threatens to become a calamity for the entire region.

Highly recommend this excellent report on the situation:


Monday, March 14, 2011

Hope for the Deaf School

Children with disabilities in Liberia have very little opportunity for education or training.  Hope School for the Deaf located on the Methodist Church of Liberia campus was established by David Worlobah. David is an active advocate for children with disabilities in Liberia and is devoted to Hope School and the students there.  LOEP spent some time at Hope in January conducting hearing screenings for students, assessing classroom instructional needs and generally having a wonderful time with the kids.  Hope is amazing, the students are remarkable and LOEP has committed to find ways to assist them in their work with deaf children in Liberia.

Check out this video about Hope School for the Deaf.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Re-Building Education from Scratch

As early as 2005 LOEP began considering requests to go to Liberia and work with our teacher colleagues there. It was not until 2009 that the first team actually went but for the four years between, LOEP volunteers studied everything we could find about education in Liberia both pre-war and post-war. We talked at length with our Liberian board members and friends and conducted a Needs Assessment at our partner schools to determine their professional development needs. The fairly intensive preparation and research made us feel well-prepared as we set off for our first training trip… well, it was a bit helpful, anyway.

Our goal is to continue making our training workshops and professional development assistance as relevant and useful as it can be for Liberian teachers. Liberia is moving forward fast so we have to keep up. While nothing quite substitutes for on-the-ground experience, we keep in close contact with our colleagues and maintain updates from other sources as new information becomes available on education in Liberia.

It occurred to me, because of the many questions we get when we talk about LOEP, that some who read this blog may find it interesting to keep up along with us. From time to time – as something particularly interesting or relevant comes up - I will post about education in Liberia from a broad perspective and post some links to source material, reports, etc. That may give our own LOEP projects some context and also provide some insight on life in Liberia as the country re-builds.

A couple of good places to start:


More next week...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Striving for Excellence

Mr. Achempong and Mr. Zinna are two LCMS high school teachers whose students must take the WAEC exams to graduate.   They will be participating in WAEC training on modern testing methods.  Every year Mr. A and Mr. Z are among the shining stars of LOEP's professional development workshops so we know they will do very well in the WAEC training!
The West African Exam Council (WAEC) sets an educational standard for accreditation and conducts annual standardized tests for high schools in the five-nation region.  Every high school student in Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Liberia must pass the WAEC exam in their final year of school in order to graduate.
Teachers and administrators at Lott Carey Mission School have worked hard to meet and maintain WAEC standards for their school and for their students since the war took such a terrible toll on Liberian education.  Their efforts are paying off and WAEC test results for Lott Carey students have been improving since difficult times in Liberia have eased.
Just this week, LOEP received word that Lott Carey's commitment to constant improvement is not going unnoticed.  One of only ten selected schools, LCMS teachers have been invited to attend a week-long workshop on Modern Trends in Education Assessment that is being held for WAEC staff.   According to Ms. Rosa Allen, LCMS principal, the invitation was based on "credibility of schools when administering WAEC, and our collaboration with WAEC over the years".  She mentions that LOEP training with it's exposure to modern methods and techniques for classroom instruction and assessment has given them an edge in the WAEC workshop.
Mrs. Allen modestly states, "we are proud to have been selected."  Those of us who have worked with LCMS teachers know that the recognition is well-deserved for a corps of professional teachers whose conscientous commitment to educating their students is making a difference in their nation's future!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Education and Agriculture

This lush scene is the seedling nursery at Alfred and Agnes Memorial Orphan Mission (AAMOM).  The seedling nursery is a direct result of AAMOM's partnership with farmers in Virginia who have been sending seeds, tools and providing agricultural support and advice to partners in Liberia since before the war ended.  Please click on the link below to read more about this effort to assist agricluture work and farming in Liberia.
Sustainable agriculture is as critical as education to maintaining peace and stability in Liberia.  As LOEP focuses on education, our friends and other family members focus on agricultural success for our partners in Liberia.  Our mutually supportive relationship grew from the commitment our own church made years ago to assist our Liberian partners in achieving peace and stability for their nation.  

AAMOM has had great success in creating a sustainable agricultural project that not only feeds the orphans but is also successful enough to produce products for the local markets. LOEP Team member Rachel Price is an environmental scientist.  She was mightily impressed on her first visit to AAMOM with the operation's success in developing something of a thriving permaculture type community.  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Educator Honored and Dresses delivered

Little Fatu and Naomi were so pleased to receive their stylish, new pillow case dresses and posed happily with their friend, Fahmetta Morris to show their new finery.  The third dress, draped over Mrs. Morris' walker is intended for another sister who was too shy to pose for the camera.  The little girls so seldom have anything new to wear and the pillow case dresses were a real thrill as you can see from Naomi's shy but radiant smile!  Leah Lunsford and her crafting ladies made these little Liberian girls (and quite a few others) very happy!
Mrs. Morris is a retired teacher and principal who, at age 95 years, is always ready to relate stories and memories of her days in the classroom and as a Kindergarten principal.  Her memory is clear, her speech sharp and she is a youthful and vibrant lady who loves her community and her country.  Naomi, Fatu and their mother live with Mrs. Morris in the Liberian tradition.  Many people live together in households as families bound by mutual caring and need for each other regardless of whether blood ties exist.  Mrs. Morris lives with her household family in rural Clay-Ashland, a small community on the banks of the St. Paul river that was ravaged by wars of the last two decades.  She has outlived her only child and her husband and many other extended family members have settled in the U.S. where they fled to escape war in Liberia.  Mrs. Morris is a cherished member of her community and was happy to tell  us about the wonderful birthday celebration held in her honor in September when the entire communty turned out to honor her.  Family came from the U.S., Ghana and all over Liberia to join the community event with dancing and feasting to honor their community's treasured educator.


Monday, January 24, 2011

An Educated Community

Each LOEP Traininig session opened and closed with all of us, trainers and teachers, reciting the following statement of belief in our work as teachers building a community of learners together:

We believe our students are the future of Liberia.
We believe teachers shape that future.
We believe an educated community is a strong, peaceful community.

This year the 2011 LOEP team was fortunate to witness first-hand some incredible evidence of learner communities in Liberia.  We visited:
  • two orphan schools - one building a new classroom building and dormitory and the other improving their facility with new security and playground areas, 
  • Hope School for the Deaf, a community of learners who are no longer isolated now that they can sign and learn together,
  • Virginia Christian Academy, a school currently undergoing construction of a new, two-story building which will include housing for their new library collection,
  • A church-sponsored school facility with six classrooms constructed of bamboo poles and grass mat walls where more than 400 children attend school every day in three sessions and adults attend night-time literacy classes.
These learning communities and hundreds of others like them are all led by dedicated teachers who know the future of Liberia depends on educating their students - adults and children.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bean Bag Fun at Hope School

Yesterday the LOEP team finished up hearing screenings at Hope for the Deaf School  in Monrovia where our friends David Worlebah and Eric are doing remarkable work with hearing impaired children.  The school located on the Methodist Church of Liberia campus, has three extremely small classrooms and one larger classroom/assembly room/lunch room.  There are sixty seven students ranging in age from 4 years old to 26 years old and all are either deaf or severely hearing impaired.  The older students are there because as disabled persons in Liberia, they have been unable to access any education or training opportunities until recently when awareness of rights for the disabled began to be recognized.  David is actively working as an advocate for the disabled in Liberia in addition to his commitment to Hope where he is both school administrator and a teacher.
The LOEP team completed hearing screenings on 52 students yesterday.  While the screenings were going on in one building, LOEP team member Luvenia Harvey demonstrated how to use bean bags as instructional classroom tools.  The children LOVED it and had a wonderful time challenging each other to spelling with bean bags and teaching Miss Harvey and Beth how to sign each spelling word!  They were delighted to share their communication skills with hearing persons who wanted to learn.  One teacher joined enthusiastically in the fun spelling/signing activities.
Rachel had a great time with the children on Thursday afternoon and has learned quite an impressive array of signs and phrases from the children, including sign names of some of the indigenous tribes in Liberia.
LOEP videographer in Liberia, Derrick Snyder, has produced a great video on Hope for the Deaf School.  The video will be posted on the LOEP website as soon as we return.  Watch for it!

Miss Harvey surrounded by kids and bean bags - it's spelling time!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Building a Community of Learners!

LOEP Trainers of Teachers (ToTs)
(l to r) Mr. Zinnah, Mrs. Allen, Miss Harvey, Mr. Achempong

Today was a milestone day for the LOEP Training Team and our colleagues at LCMS!  The theme of LOEP's three-phase, three-year training program is Building a Community of Learners. The goal is to train teachers who can train their colleagues, shareing information, ideas and resources, building a professional network of teachers with a commitment to professional development and ongoing training. The group pictured above are the three LOEP Trainers of Teachers, meeting with LCMS Principal of Instruction Rosa Allen. The three LOEP ToTs are meeting to plan the LCMS Professional Development Plan for the remainder of 2011 and next academic year. The ToTs will be working throughout the year training their colleagues and working with teachers in sister schools to provide training and instructional support as they Build a Community of Learners!  They are on their way!!
On a personal note, Emmalee and Beth were in attendance for the first portion of the ToT meeting and experienced some personal emotional moments. We watched these incredibly gifted, committed professionals newly self-confident in their abilities, moving to a newly independent level of their professional development.  We felt that same mixture of pride, anticipation and love that one feels watching those "Pomp and Circumstance" moments with our own children! What a joyful day!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

School Days

This past week, the LOEP team was able to spend quite a bit of time in the classrooms at Lott Carey school with both students and teachers. The students will not be in school next week when we are working with the teachers exclusively, so this was a good opportunity for us to do some team teaching with Lott Carey teachers and even substitute teach by ourselves in some instances. I was very pleased to cover some 7th and 8th grade English classes, and Rachel had the chance to show off her science skills in a 5th grade science class as well as 12th grade biology! We had a great time with the students and with the teachers. The school currently has a faculty opening for middle school English and Language Arts. I enjoyed filling in for a few days and got some good laughs from the 8th grade class. Kids are kids are kids are kids - in Liberia, USA, and all over the world! Here are some pics from our teaching days this week.

Two seventh grade students work hard on the vocabulary lesson I gave them in the library on Tuesday.

Fridays begin with a flag raising ceremony that the older students and ROTC lead for the entire student body.

Mr. Appleton's 11th grade biology class models a human cell using students.

Rachel poses with the senior class. They were very excited to have a class picture!

We have been doing some team-building exercises with the students and will continue this work with the teachers next week.

Ms. Harvey and her nursery class

Voter Registration

Several years ago, the citizens of Liberia elected Madame Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Ma Ellen) as president - the first female president in Africa! Much development has occurred in Liberia since that time, and LOEP has seen the progress first-hand in the way of new roads, buildings, etc. Every visit we see more progress in this beautiful country! The presidential term in Liberia is six years, and this November the country will vote again for a president to lead them. The voter registration process is a bit different here - all voters register (or re-register) for each election - every six years. Voter registration opened here on Monday, January 10 and will run through Sunday, February 6. Voters are supposed to register in the precinct where they live. As in the US, the voting age is 18. People are very excited to register, and the lines at the precincts have been quite long in some areas.

One of the buildings on the campus of Lott Carey is used as a registration site. The registrar is working hard to get people ready to vote in November!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Harmattan Winds

The Harmattan Wind season prevails in early January in Liberia.  The powerful wind current marks the beginning of the dry season in West Africa with winds blowing south from the Sahara bringing sand and "smoke".  The temperatures are a bit cooler this month because the sand and "smoke" filters the powerful sun rays.  Some of us are feeling the effects with irritated throat and coughing - sort of like hay fever but without hay or ragweed just dust and sand instead.  The slightly cooler temperatures only last for a brief period during January generally. The low humidity and 85 degree temps. are great for us but not so much for Liberians who are used to 95 degrees temperature with 95 degree humidity!   We have seen many in down jackets with hoods and many of the little nursery children are arriving at school bundled in coats and knit hats.  Some are complaining of the "cold" weather.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Audiometer

Thanks to all for good wishes and prayers for timely delivery of the audiometer!  It is on track to arrive in Monrovia on Friday evening and we are scheduled to pick it up Sat. morning and take it directly to Hope School for Saturday morning hearing screenings.  Keep your fingers crossed!
 The plan for our work at Hope is to test hearing of all 67 students and gather some hearing loss-related data such as individual health history, previous diagnoses related to hearing loss, etc.  On our return to the US we will turn that data over to LOEP Team Members Karen Darner and Melanie Hudson (both are Speech Pathologists).  They will work with Dr. William McFarland who has volunteered to work with LOEP on this project.  Together they will analyze the data and develop a needs assessment.  Based on that, we can begin to develop resources for assisting Hope students with educational tools and hearing aids.  
 More to come on Hope School and our friends there, David and Eric.  They are two remarkable young men who have made a remarkable commitment.  They educate children who, in Liberia, are completely marginalized and have very few opportunities.  Their steadfastness in the face of huge obstacles is nothing short of inspiring!

Back to School

This week is the first back to school since the Christmas break.  Last week LCMS prepared for school opening with an exciting ceremony - the Grand Opening of the LCMS Teacher Resource Room.  A renovated storage room has been transformed to function as a Teacher Resource Room where instructional materials, science equipment and classroom display materials can checked out and used by teachers in their classrooms.  An area for collabortive planning has been designated and cabinets stocked with supplies are accessible.
The LCMS Teachers Resource Room is open to teachers in schools where LOEP teachers work and a check-out system is in place for tracking and accountability.  It is a rare opportunity for teachers in Liberia to have access to instructional materials.  The LOEP team is focusing on helping teachers AND students learn how to make maximum use of new and exciting learning tools.

LCMS Principal of Instruction, Rosa Allen showed LOEP Team members Rachel Price and Beth Iden how resource materials have been categorized and shelved according to subject area for easy teacher access in the new Teacher Resource Room.

Wednesday morning visit to CRM orphanage came just about lunch time.  Cook is preparing to feed 48 children who live at CRM full time.  CRM children are still on Christmas break and their school semester begins next week.  The orphan school is open to children in the surrounding community and has about 150 students in addition to the CRM children.

Nursery students during cooperative play time.  The blocks are a big favorite!

LOEP Team member Emmalee Iden cannot resist the Little Ones (who can??)  Just had to get in a few minutes of play time building a tower.

CRM administrator, Sam Kargbo, with Matron (center) and CRM's number one volunteer greeted the LOEP Team when we visited on Wednesday morning.  Notice a set of "shape" bean bags displayed in the classroom.  Next week's teacher training will include workshops on using bean bags as instructional tools in all grades and for all ages.  Craft Hope Bean Bags are a great addition to the Teacher Resource Room and to orphan schools like CRM where instructional materials are nearly nonexistent. 


Monday, January 10, 2011

Old Friends and New

We arrived to many warm greetings of "Welcome" in the Liberian style with beautiful, gleaming smiles, warm handshakes and cheek to cheek "hugs".  Yet another year, we are astounded with the amazing progress Lott Carey teachers and students continue to make to the school campus, buildings and, most of all, to the quality of education.  It is incredibly inspiring to see such commitment to educating children.  We look forward to training week next week.  Today Emmalee and Rachel are working in the classrooms with teachers.  Rachel had the opportunity to teach a fifth grade Science class today and will work in the labs with students through the week. Emmalee will be teaching Language Arts the rest of the week.  Beth (me) will be in the library working with the librarian who is new to Lott Carey and has already made huge strides in sorting and cataloging books.

Our "home away from home" has also changed a bit with electricity available more hours of the day than in past years.  We are sharing our guest quarters with a mission group from Charlottesville, VA area.  Although we have worked jointly on shipments to Liberia and other support to our friends in Liberia, this is the first time our two groups have actually met.  Seems crazy that we live only a couple of hours apart in the US and had to come all the way to Liberia to meet in person.

Pictures and more entries to come.  Internet access is reliable at Lott Carey now (another amazing improvement)!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


The 2011 LOEP Training Team is nearly all packed up and ready to go!  It has been a little difficult to focus so soon after the blur of activity that was Christmas and New Year's but departure is Thursday - so ready or not, here we come!
In addition to conducting training workshops, LOEP training team members will use the new battery-powered, compact audiometer donated by EBS Healthcare - a LOEP corporate partner - to conduct hearing screenings at Hope Scool for  the Deaf.  The objective  is to gather basic data on student hearing at Hope School (types of hearing loss, extent, cause, etc.) and bring that data back home for analysis by LOEP volunteers.  Experts in audiology and teaching children with special needs, LOEP volunteers back here in the U.S. will examine the data and make some recommendations to Hope School administrator, David Worlobah, for developing resources for student hearing aids. Our ultimate goal is to determine how we can assist Hope School in meeting educational and hearing needs of Hope's students.
LOEP trainers will be working with teachers at Hope School using bean bags and sign language instructional materials in the classroom.
Stay tuned for posts from Liberia!
Battery-powered audiometer