From Malawi to Windsor

Two educators from the Malawi Children’s Mission are spending April in America to thank donors and learn about how schools in the U.S. teach their students. The pair’s stops have included Silicon Valley in California, Memphis, Boston and New York City. And, thanks to a donor’s relationship with Binghamton University, Windsor. 

While the visit to C.R. Weeks Elementary may seem on the surface to be an unlikely addition to the itinerary, the stop seemed to reinforce the universal challenges and issues involved with educating children.

“Every time I go through these discussions I’m amazed at the parallels. The context is different, but so much else is the same,” said Dr. Lisa Blitz, an Associate Professor at Binghamton University’s Department of Social Work who facilitated the visit. 
A woman looking down at a student standing over his work 

The Malawi Children’s Mission was formed in 2007 to serve orphaned and vulnerable children in the nation. According to MCW, its focus is providing an environment in which a child can develop potential and a future.

Henock Banda, MCM’s Education Director, and Phoebe Kufeyani, MCM’s Social Service Director, toured Weeks Elementary. The pair visited various classrooms, including those dedicated to Special Education, and Weeks’ Project Lead the Way class. PLTW is Windsor’s program to develop an engineering pipeline. 

The pair also learned about the social and support services in place for students, many of which are separate from a student’s main classroom and delivered by someone other than the student’s homeroom teacher.

“In my place it’s the teacher doing all of these things,” said Banda. “I feel you have schools of high standards with enough supplies and resources to make it work.”

“At (Binghamton’s) Roosevelt Elementary, the school has a clinic and psychologist – different people in different careers helping students,” said Kufeyani. The pair from MCM visited Roosevelt Elementary before their stop at Weeks.
Two adult women speaking to each other in a class of child students 

Banda asked about the possibility of a group of Weeks students holding a regular Skype or FaceTime session with students at MCM. Windsor administrators were excited about the idea, even raising the possibility of the two sets of students sharing a lesson.

“It was a unique opportunity to exchange ideas with educators from across the globe right here in Windsor.   To be on their list of stops as they make their way across the country to discuss Community Schools is an honor and to learn first-hand of their experience and commitment in Malawi is humbling.  Additionally, we discussed opportunities to connect our students in shared pursuits of learning and understanding.  I look forward to our future work together,” said Windsor CSD Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Scott Beattie. 

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