“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
Eight years ago, University Baptist Church (UBC) in Houston, Texas wanted to develop an all-female mission trip. The idea of teachers teaching teachers grew as organizers recognized many of the interested ladies were teachers.
Unbeknownst to the UBC members, this idea fulfilled a long time hope in the heart of STCH Ministries International (International) staff member, Rebecca
The first team of teachers arrived in the summer of 2012; Kindergarten teacher, Ruthann Mitchell joined the team as a guest of her friend Karol Peters, STCH Ministries Board member. Grieving her mother’s death, Ruthann wanted to honor her mother, Esther Ruth’s, love of missions. Ruthann found the confirmation she sought when the team visited an orphanage and she noticed a baby girl under a mosquito net. Asking to hold her, the caregivers also allowed Ruthann to feed the baby. Wanting to know more, Ruthann asked the baby’s name – Ruth Esther. Hearing her mother’s name spoken as she looked into those innocent eyes, Ruthann knew
Ruthann returns each summer, leading other American teachers to share their expertise with the people who have won her affection. “Teaching teachers is like no other teaching I’ve ever done,” she explains. The warm acceptance of the Dominicans and their hunger to learn skills not taught in their country give American volunteers a new appreciation for the education they receive. Ruthann believes her colleagues often do not recognize how fortunate they are to have been taught not just the content they teach but also the skills for how to teach that content.
Teachers in Texas must attend professional development workshops in order to keep their teaching certificate up to date. Tamara Lee, a high school Science teacher in Conroe Independent School District, also considers teaching teachers a special blessing. “Now when I have to go to a workshop, I think, ‘How can I use this in the DR?’ I now see my ‘have to’s as ‘get to’s.” Tamara has taught school for 26 years and has been a part of the teacher’s team with International for 3 years.
This summer’s teaching team brought 12 teachers, 6 construction workers, a teenager to help with Vacation Bible School (VBS) and 38 checked bags filled to the maximum weight with resources, supplies
The workshop organized the teachers by age groups: preschool/kindergarten, elementary and high school. Grouping the instruction in this way allowed them to teach specific methods according to development levels. Exact plans depend on the specialties of the teachers attending each year. This year, the topics for the preschool/kindergarten group included developing fine and gross motor skills, suggestions for maintaining student interest through hands-on techniques and a variety of group games. The elementary group focused on lesson planning and demonstrating specific teaching styles especially in language arts, science
The second training took place in Villa Mella, near the capital city of Santo Domingo, at Iglesia Bautista Quisequayana (IBQ), International’s base of operation for all of their work in the Dominican Republic. The team works at this location each year and has developed a reputation for excellence. Many Dominican teachers arrive an hour before the starting time and most returning attendees bring colleagues with them.
In the preschool class at IBQ, the art lessons, group games and the counselor’s presentation dealing with classroom management and troubled children had the Dominicans asking for more of the same.
Each year, more American teachers join in, more Dominican schools benefit and the Kingdom of God is enriched through the collaboration of teachers teaching teachers. Next year’s trip dates are already on the calendar and Rebecca’s heart is happy. She hears from Dominican friends every year how encouraged and enlightened they feel. It emboldens them to keep up with new ideas and to work with passion while giving them new techniques using the simplest materials and creativity. “I know many have changed their style of teaching and have become better at their job,” she states.
STCH Ministries International accepts volunteer teams year-round, and Rebecca would love to see more teacher teams come in the fall and springtime as well. If you are interested in exploring this opportunity, please check out our website: https://www.STCHM.org/international/ or call us at 361.994.0940.