An increasing number of teachers became involved with the quilt project. Listening to the parents and grandparents was truly enlightening on many levels. The principal came to speak to the last meeting. In a lively dialogue, he talked with the parents about how to continue the work started by this quilt, to partner to strengthen the education of all the children of the township. The parents agreed they would stay involved, working with the teachers, and keeping a watch over all children, not just their own. The principal promised to continue to involve families in their children’s education. Family story time at the school, in collaboration with the municipal library, is one project now in the planning stages. The quilt will hang in the entrance to the school as a reminder to all of the power of dreams.
And for Eileen, there was Larry – given the Xhosa name of “Tando” or “love” – by the parents and grandparents at the last meeting. At the end of the busy day of working with so many teachers, he would join Eileen at the family meetings, doing everything from helping the parents to serving the food, to sweeping the floor when it was all over.
Teachers Commit to Making Continued Progress
"We promise, we promise, to continue to work on what you have shown us and to use the materials you brought,” said Qamba, one of the teachers who Larry worked with, speaking for the whole group at our final meeting with the faculty and principal. Qamba said that her students had asked her if she would be reading them a story every day, and other teachers agreed that their students looked forward to this each day.
Everyone agreed that the use of the big books and the Making Meaning materials were highly useful and that the teachers had made great strides in using them effectively in the classrooms. The teachers all agreed that their students loved the big books and the stories in the Making Meaning kits. Although Larry worked directly only with teachers who teach English in grades 2, 3 and 4, nearly every teacher in the school (even those in grades K and 1) had either observed Larry do lessons in the classrooms or attended Larry's big book/shared reading training session after school.
- that we would continue to provide instruction about how to use the big books to teach specific skills.
- that we would work to purchase more big books, including some in Xhosa for the grade K and 1 teachers. Before we left several orders were placed with publishers that supply South Africa. The teachers agreed to contact publishers within South Africa and Larry would continue the search in the United States.
- that we would try to find additional quality educational computer programs for the computer lab.
We’ve landed back in the U.S., a little jet-lagged and a lot inspired. For those who have contributed moral and financial support, we hope you can see the impact you have made on this school. We could not have imagined the progress that has been made since we first stopped there. More thoughts on this years trip later…
Eileen and Larry (a/k/a Nosango and Tando, and yes, that's really what they started calling us!)