Teachers Spend Summer Serving in Africa


Mathematics teachers Julie Block and Maggie Sharp will visit Ghana, Africa, for a three-week service trip. Photo submitted by Maggie Sharp.

Kate Siltman, Management Editor

This summer two mathematics teachers, Julie Block and Maggie Sharp, will take part in a three-week journey to Ghana, Africa, with the Limited Resource Teacher Training Program.

The LRTT Program recruits teachers from all over the world to delegate training for teachers in countries in need. With connections from a college friend of Sharp’s, the two teachers will fly out to Ghana July 2 through July 24.

According to some MHS students, there are no other teachers better fit for this role.

“[Mrs. Block] really cares about her students and wants to see them succeed. She also always has a positive outlook in every situation. To me, these are great qualities she can bring with her and to other teachers while in Africa,” said Sanika Bijawat, senior.

The same types of praises were said for Sharp.

“[Mrs. Sharp] is generally a phenomenal person,” said Senior Eric Dunevant. “She can get along with anyone because she is great spirited. She’ll be able to teach anyone how to have her happy-go-lucky teaching attitude.”

During this three-week trip, each week will have its own goals to accomplish in order to get the most of out the trip.

“The first week will be us going through schools and observing,” said Block. “The second week will be focused on classroom management, and the third week will be to evaluate the classrooms and how they are now working.”

One of the challenges going into a different culture is the difference in values and ways they go about doing everyday activities. For instance, actions, such as certain classroom punishments, that wouldn’t be socially acceptable here would be in Africa.

“Going into this trip, a big challenge is going to be the difference in teaching philosophy. Both sides are going to have to give a little. We have to try to convince these teachers what we know works with a class of 25 students will indeed work for their class sizes, which are up to 60-100 students,” said Block.

The main goal of LRTT, then, is to work in multiple countries that are in need of development.

“It’s definitely going to be a learning curve because of their large class sizes, their supplies are limited, and, plus, there’s no actual building for school,” said Sharp.

Though the main focus of this trip is to help out a country in need, both teachers will get some down time for themselves.

“Even though it’s work, not a vacation, we do get three excursions, like going on a safari [and] ziplining,” said Block.

For this specific trip to Ghana, the LRTT program has invited 25 teachers from all over the world, with Block and Sharp the only ones from the Chicagoland area.

“I’m excited to grow professionally, and to take from other teachers and apply what I learn in my classroom back at home. But I’m mostly excited to be traveling with Mrs. Sharp, and I think we’re both going to grow on this trip,” said Block.

Traveling abroad can make a person nervous, especially if the goal is to bring change. However, when one is able to do it with a friend, it makes the challenge more meaningful.

“I’m excited to go experience education in a different way and expose myself to new things,” said Sharp. “I love to travel because I get to reflect on how different people live and value things and bring that back home to think about and cherish.”