Thursday, December 29, 2011

Leanne in Africa

This is Leanne. She is a friend from college and she teachers in Indonesia. Leanne came to visit during this holiday season!

I will admit it has been hard being away from home for the holidays but it has been such a blessing to celebrate with Leanne. I thank God for such a great family and friends.

Monday, December 26, 2011

12 Days of Kenya

On the first day of Kenya my Safari gave to me
A Tony Eagle Soaring

On the second day of Kenya my Safari gave to me
2 Bike-bikes Hiding

On the third day of Kenya my Safari gave to me
3 Wildebeest Running

On the fourth day of Kenya my Safari gave to me
4 Lions Roaring

On the fifth day of Kenya my Safari gave to me
5 Elephants!

On the sixth day of Kenya my Safari gave to me
6 Rhinos Charging

On the seventh day of Kenya my Safari gave to me
7 Hippos Snorting

On the eighth day of Kenya my Safari gave to me
8 Impalas Jumping

On the ninth day of Kenya my Safari gave to me
9 Giraffes Standing

On the tenth day of Kenya my Safari gave to me
10 Pelicans Diving

On the eleventh day of Kenya my Safari gave to me
11 Baboons Swinging

On the twelfth day of Kenya my Safari gave to me
12 Zebras Grazing

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Field Day!

We had a day for all the students with special needs at Green Hills to come together and hang out for an afternoon. They loved it! It was so fun!

The primary students walked the nursery students to the classroom
We shared our names and grade
We sang songs and read a story
We had a scavenger hunt throughout the school
And we had cupcakes!
It was a great learning experience and so much fun!

Monday, December 12, 2011

An Off Day

Everyone has good days and everyone has bad is a part of life.

When you are having an off day you can tell your roommate, husband, wife, boss, friend, 'I'm not having a good day.' and they totally understand.

When a child with autism is having an off day they cannot always communicate verbally that they are having a bad day. It comes out in other forms; refusal to do work, not looking at you, and sometimes the child can hit or bite. They just have to be taught a socially acceptable way to communicate their feelings.

As the child gets upset sometimes they loose control of their actions and need help regaining control. Most often someone needs to help them do this. The best way to calm them down is to put pressure on their body; like a big, long hug.

To someone that does not know what is happening it may look like I am hurting or holding down the child but it is, in fact, helping them.

Today was one of those off days for one of my students and it definitely looked like I was very mean in the eyes of other teachers. After about an hour of 'hugging', the student calmed down and was able to continue with the day, as normal.

In the end it was a great learning experience for my teacher assistants, teachers at the school and for my student.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mosquito Net

There are not a lot of mosquitoes but when when they do get in your room they always seem to find your ear and keep you up all night. My mosquito net is wonderful! It works much better when the mosquito is not trapped inside the net.... a few mosquito bits later...

Lesson of the day: pat down your bed very good before putting the net over it

Friday, December 2, 2011

Teacher Assistant

I am not just teaching children with special needs I am teacher their teacher assistants as well:

Self Advocacy
Self Worth

I realized these are very important skills to have and can actually be taught. It takes lots of patients on my part but my teacher assistants will not only be better teachers with these skills but they will be better people as well.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner:
Getting started
Turkey on a stick
mmmm....looking good
ready to eat
It was really good!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011


The first student with special needs has graduated from Green Hills Academy! She is now working at an assistant teacher assistant with me and doing great!

Her class was the last class that was on the National calendar of having a school year from January to December. The rest of the school is on the North American calendar and go from August to June.

Students got a chance to show what they learned about the Rwandan culture by dancing the traditional dance.

Then they got parents, teachers, and graduates all dancing!
What a great celebration!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Rain or Shine School must go on!
When it rains hard:
- you can not hear the teacher so you do silent work
- you have to walk under the overhang so walking to art and lunch takes much longer
- you can not go to PE so you play Heads Up 7 Up

It usually only rains for about a half hour at a time.

Even though schedules are changed when it rains, we love it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

International Day of Prayer

There was a tribe in northeast India called headhunters because the custom was to collect as many heads as possible.

A group of workers went into the tribe to share the love and peace of Jesus Christ. One family came to know and love Jesus. This family started to share God’s love with others in the tribe but the chief did not like that.

The chief lined up the family and asked the father ‘Will you deny your faith?’ The father remembered a song he wrote and sang the first verse:

I have decided to follow Jesus,

I have decided to follow Jesus (3 times)

No turning back, No turning back

The chief killed both of his kids and again asked, ‘Will you deny your faith?’ The father began to sing the second verse:

Though none go with me, Still I will follow (3 times)

No turning back, No turning back

The chief killed his wife and asked, ‘Will you deny your faith?’ The father sang the last verse:

The world behind me, The cross before me (3 times)

No turning back, No turning back

The chief then killed the father.

A miracle happened that day. The chief could not understand this supernatural power behind the family that they would die for. He started to want what they had; he began to declare that he believed in Jesus. That day many of the people in the tribe came to know Christ as their Savior.

That is the power of Jesus Christ!

300 people are killed every day for their faith in Jesus Christ.

People are willing to die for faith…Can you imagine the faith they have?!?

Pray for these people: let them know they are not alone in this, that they will be bold and courageous, that they know they are making a difference

Thursday, November 10, 2011

White Girl and Guinea Pig

Bella and I go pretty much everywhere together now that she has a cool new carrier. We have become famous around town; school, the bank, the grocery store, the restaurant up the street...

They call us 'the Muzungu (white person) who rides motos with that guinea pig'. It is pretty catchy; don't you think? :)
She may be little but she is so much fun!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Desk

I am planning lessons for a few of my students.It might be messy but it is an organized mess!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Trip to the USA

I took a short trip back to the US for a few reasons:

1) Lauren and Bruce got Married

2) Mallory's Birthday

3) Emily's Fashion Show

4) My Mom and Tracy Moved (to the country)

5) A Real, Live, True Mom Hug
A grand total of 80 hours travel time but it was totally worth it!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Moto Ride

A moto taxi ride.

Thought you might like to see what it looks like.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Lesson of the day:

If you say 'Hano' (here) it means in this general area but... if you say 'Hano, Hano' that means right here.

If you say 'Ngwino' (come) it means come when you can but... if you say 'Ngwino, Ngwino' that means come right now.

This can get a little confusing when I want the moto taxi to stop but I'm getting the hang of it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Every high school student at Green Hills is required to do a certain amount of volunteer hours. A few of the students wanted to help my students and I out. They come a couple times a week to my office and make different teaching aids for my students.

In this picture they making a matching activity and a color game. They are hard workers and have helped a lot!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Standardized Test

The students at Green Hills is taking their first standardized test. With this test we will be creating norms for the school to see where the students are. We will also be able to find the lowest functioning students so we can meet their needs more efficiently.

I gave a workshop on how to do all the individual standardized test. We have to do individual testing for all of kindergarden and first grade; that is a little over 200 students.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Class Pet

I got a guinea pig!!

My students love her! One student walked in saying, 'I'm so excited!'
They helped me get the room and the cage ready for her to stay in our classroom. They even named her, Bella. It means beautiful.

This is one of my students helping me put Bella in her new cage. He actually touched her!
This is one of my students feeding Bella.
Bella will help my students learn responsibility, small motor skills, awareness of surroundings, respect, taking care of a living thing, noise level, patients, cleaning skills, being gentile, how to play, working through emotions (fear, discomfort, excitement); Bella has a big job.

First class pet at Green Hills and I would even venture to say first class pet in Rwanda!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Rwanda has the most beautiful rainbows.

It's God's smiling down at us. It is His promise that He will take care of you.

I love rainbows.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First Alarm

It does not matter where you go, kids will always be kids. They are excitable, energetic, curious, and goofy.

In every bunch of kids you always have the teachers pet, the over achiever, the class clown, the quiet one, the one that will not stop talking and you cannot forget the trouble maker...

Today, one of students decided it was a good idea to pull the first alarm. There was no fire but I guess he felt like it was a great time for a fire drill.

It does not change not matter where you are in the world, there is a trouble maker in every group. But you know, I love them all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Special Education

Special Education at its finest....

Individualized Curriculum
Meaningful and Interactive Lessons
Using the Student's Strengths
Building on Prior Knowledge
Keeping to a Routine
Picture Schedules
Fun and Interesting
Creating a desire to learn!

That's the way my classroom runs.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rainy Season

It is now rainy season.

It could be a hot beautiful sunny morning, without a cloud in the sky, but by the time I get to school it could be raining and freezing cold. It does not rain for long but it might rain a few times during the day and when it does it gets very chilly.

During rainy season it is wise to carry a sweater and a rain coat with you at all times because you just never know when it will rain.

...I may or may not have learned this the hard way :)

Friday, September 9, 2011


I was talking with the new PE teacher of the primary school at Green Hills today. I was asking him how things were going and if he enjoyed teaching. I asked him if the students were playing soccer in PE and I told him that I over heard the kids wanting to start a soccer team.

I realized he was looking at me like I was crazy.... then I remembered I live in Africa and soccer is really called football :)

After I told him I was really talking about football, we both chucked a little at the fact that this conversation was so confusing but, we worked it out and maybe Green Hills will start a football team this year.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Time Table

I walked in to my classroom today and I could not believe it...

All the students were in the right area, the aids were teaching the correct lesson, the timer was running, the students were engaged, the room was decorated, and they all knew what to do next!

Time tables, also known as a schedule, work wonders!

The special education program is far from finished, far from perfect, but it is running and it has a time table, which is more than they had last year.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mr. Chips

This might look like a Coca-Cola stan but it is a restaurant that is called Mr. Chips.

It is the closest thing to McDonald's you can find here in Rwanda! And believe it or not the burgers and fries (known as chips here) are really good!

One of my favorite places to go :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011


We had a workshop for all of the teacher assistants. They are the teachers that work closely with the children that have special needs.

I opened up the workshop by doing a simulation on what it feels like to have autism. All the teachers had to do was write one sentence...while wearing blue tinted goggles, using their non-dominant hand, with a red pen, on a line that was rounded and slanted up, with music in the background, with someone running all around the room, with someone talking in their ear about nonsense and pointing at their paper...but all they had to do was listen to what I was saying and write it down.

The teachers could no believe that is what these students were going through all the time.

Autism: a life long developmental disability which alters the development of language, sensory and social.

The teachers quickly understood that these students were not asking the way they were because they were being disobedient or lazy but because they have a disability.

Yeah these students might have special needs but, they are by God, in His perfect way....they were made special...just like you....and me.

If you want to see the world through they eyes of a child with autism click here
(scroll down to the video).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day Off

This is when you just say 'you know when you live in Rwanda when....'

Our teaching calendar said we had school tomorrow.

That is until the government came on the radio and declared it a national holiday due to the fact that it is a muslim holiday.

So we went to all the classroom and told the students not to come to school tomorrow. As you can imagine the kids were very distraught but I think they will be ok :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Big 5

One of my students turned 5 today!

Her teacher assistant and I went to her birthday party. It was fun.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Violation of Moto Code

Today I was walking and saw a mzungu (white person) clearly violating the unwritten moto code.

She was violating code number 6 which (no so) clearly states "hold on to the bar behind you (not the driver)". Yep that is right...she was holding on to the driver!!

I might not know all the unwritten codes of Rwanda yet but I am learning. I am very glad I know the moto code!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Big School

Green Hills is down a little hill and on top of it (on the road) is a store/restaurant. I went in and could see part of the school.
All of the buildings with blue roofs are part Green Hills:
The far right, three story building is the main office and some secondary classrooms.
Moving left, the building that looks like stairs, is the 5-6 grade classes, art and computer lab
In front, the canopy is where the kids line up to go home
Then there is a play ground
The long strip of classrooms are the 1-2 grade classes
Then some grass and sand
Just past the trees are the 3-4 grade classes and my office

What you cannot see in the pictures is my classroom (which is to the left), a playground, dinning hall (behind secondary building, down the hill) the nursery, gym and football (soccer) field.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tea and Bread

I love bread and here in Rwanda it comes in all forms. Tonight we had chapatti. It is like pizza dough but better! And of course we drank it with tea. It is more like chi and is delicious.

(a picture soon to come; when the internet is a little faster)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dry or Rainy

Currently we are in Dry Season but it rained today. It was nice to have rain but it was so cold! I wore a long sleeve shirt and a jacket to work today and pants. I took the jacket off after a while but still...It's supposed to be hot.

I'm not complaining is great sleeping weather :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Day

Today was the first day of school for students.

Half way through 2nd period it all sunk in... I had the realization that there really is not much for children with special needs.

Sure, I have been talking about it for a while now but it was not a reality until a student got over stimulated while in class and it all could have been prevented with basic knowledge of autism and could have been stopped with a schedule, a weighted vest, a squishy ball, or even a picture.

That is when it hit me: I am not just teaching children with special needs but I am teaching the aids how work with children with disabilities, giving basic knowledge to classroom teachers on how to teach and writing lesson plans without any type of curriculum (then teaching the aids how to administer the lesson so I can assess other children).

The visionary in me can see a great program for special education but the practical part of me is focused on the details. For now I need to remember to be patient and enjoy the challenges as they come because I know it will all work out in the end.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Green Hills Academy

I have always had a passion for children with special needs and God has called me here to Rwanda to share my passion with others. There are so many things that can be, or rather need to be, done for children with special needs; like an integrated school with educated teachers for children with disabilities. But before this can be done, I need to learn about the education system, the culture, find resources and the language of Rwanda.

The amazing part is, God knew I had to learn some things before He can use me to help others. He has given me the opportunity to work at Green Hills Academy. This school has created a new program called Special Needs and they have asked me to be the Special Needs Coordinator. What a perfect opportunity to learn and grow!

As much as I want to be in the village helping the children there, I have to remember that to better help the village, I need to learn some things first. God has put me here and I trust He knows what he is doing.

Tuesday is the first day the students come! I have many students on my case load and more to come. It will be a crazy day but I am excited to dive into things. Here is my classroom:It is a cirlce room with a little extention in the back and the decorations are in proccess :)