Whether it was because she married right out of college or the COVID-19 pandemic, the timing never lined up for Brooks to teach in another country. Now, Vista Charter Academy’s K-5 literacy at risk teacher is headed to Njoro, Kenya, from June 15-28 through Our Journey Academy, a nonprofit organization. She is one of four from Michigan going on the mission trip to teach in a first grade classroom.
“I had a lot of friends after they got out of college, they were going to go do work in other countries, and I always thought that sounded amazing and it’d be something that I would like to try some time,” she said.
COVID put Brooks’ plans on hold, but she felt the stars were aligning for her to teach in Africa after finding out her daughter’s college roommate was from Kenya. The capper was when she learned one of her students at Vista was named Kenya.
Our Journey focuses on community-based projects emphasizing self-reliance for children and families living in desperate poverty. The organization is in the process of building a first grade classroom that will be in operation while Brooks is there. Brooks will create six learning lessons for math and reading along with providing professional development for teachers.
Before she departs, Brooks needs materials. She set up a GoFundMe page, with proceeds going toward food supplies, mattresses, school uniforms, backpacks, and shoes for the 12 families Freed sponsors, along with possibly putting in a greenhouse. The money also will supply items from teachers’ “wish lists” that can be purchased in the town. Brooks also is holding a $25 per person fundraiser from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, May 22, at The Fowling Warehouse in Grand Rapids that includes a silent auction.
“It is just amazing how much he’s reading now and understanding English,” she said. “Now we have full-on conversations rather than having my phone translating you back and forth. Now I can’t get him to stop talking.”
Keep up the excellent work, Ms. Brooks!
Vista Charter Academy is a free public charter school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. National Heritage Academies (NHA), a charter school management company in Grand Rapids, Mich. has 98 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.