Reflections of an itinerant teacher

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Always packed and ready to go!  I cannot say that this was always the case for this particular traveler, but I can say that this is the habit of life that an itinerant teacher lives when facing the daily routine of life.  Some people would tell me that they did not know how I could do it – the constant travel, the continual change in classroom, curriculum and routine….But sometime I would wonder how they could keep it up – always staying in one place for months on end with rarely a break from the daily grind of keeping house, schooling children, running ministry, maintaining community….life has a place carved out for each one of us for the proper season and time, and I would heartily claim that the LORD has prepared both life and the person for the venture.  This is what itinerant teaching has taught me.
So, a little explanation on what it is like to itinerant teach in a non-western setting.  In one word: incomparable.  Itinerant teaching is incomparable to any other kind of teaching that I have encountered.  I need to add that I have not encountered very many “kinds” of teaching since I graduated from college only seven months prior to itinerant teaching, and I really only had student and substitute teaching under my belt prior to this.  I think if I had given a phrase to itinerant teaching during that first year, I would have said that it was a “one-time” experience for me, for I was glad that each visit only lasted for two or three weeks.  This mentality was primarily due to the adjustment of first-year teaching, in addition to the constant travel and transition of itinerant teaching.  After that first year was under my belt, although the wear of itinerant teaching was still fatiguing, I would certainly say that “I would not trade it for the world.”  To know my students not only in the classroom, but also in their home and village setting, to know their family personally, sharing meals with them on a daily basis – these were the incomparable gifts that no other kind of teaching offers.  It was a precious glimpse into the unique lives of my village students.

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Cooking with Jude (grade 2) and Sam (kindergarten).

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Doing school with Emanuel (grade 1).

I could offer an exciting glimpse of school for the itinerant teacher and her students, including stories of field trips to the fon’s (or village chief’s) palace or of morning breaks catching stray chickens that had flown the coop or of school projects practicing photography and making village scrapbooks.  The list could only go on!  But while school can be very exciting for a village kid, it is also normal.  Every day is filled with math, reading, writing, history, science, spelling, etc. for each student – a normal school day.
Incomparable, precious, exciting, normal – these are all words that I have given to itinerant teaching.  The final word that I have to give is one that I saw time and time again in my adventure as an itinerant teacher.  Purposeful.  The LORD was very purposeful and intentional in placing me with each of my families at each of the times that I visited.  Either for the benefit of the family or the benefit of the itinerant teacher, I can probably recount the purpose and meaning that each visit held.  Sometimes the village families needed the educational advice or simply the break that the itinerant teacher gave them.  Sometimes the itinerant teacher was blessed by the peaceful and beautiful surroundings of a certain village or by the joyful community that a village family encouraged and fostered.  One scenario which exemplifies this was when I went to visit a family and teach their children for five weeks after the homeschooling parent was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and the family was anticipating the recovery period to take months.  How fitting that the itinerant teacher had the time to stay for over a month, doing regular teacher tasks, but also filling in with meals and childcare!  And I can only testify that God’s strength filled me to step into that role at that time.  Thankfully, He replenished me with a brief vacation in the mountains before I made my next itinerant visit to a family who is very much like family to me.  With dedication to school work, as well as to family time, enjoying creation and playing games as a family, I can say that this end to my two itinerant teaching trips was very restoring, due to the purpose that the LORD had for those two families and for me.

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Hiking with Clarisa (grade 2) and Ethan (grade 4).

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A field trip with Raya (grade 4), Kate (grade 3) and John (kindergarten).

Now, itinerant teaching is done, its season is over for me.  It was a great experience, one that I still miss and will miss probably for the rest of my life.  And yet, it was time to end. The LORD prepared me even for its ending, as He was also preparing me for a new beginning of life as a married woman.  I am still getting used to being married and I am still hoping to find other work as a teacher, but this is what the LORD has for me and it is good.  Waiting teaches us to trust in Him and lean on Him more.  We are in daily need of our God, our Savior.  This is what itinerant teaching has taught me, a lesson I hope to continue to learn for the rest of my life.  Do you feel that need?  If not, maybe itinerant teaching is just the job the LORD has for you to learn your need of Him.

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Itinerant teacher, Carolyn Partridge, with Ali (grade 5), Micah (grade 3), Caleb (grade 2) and Zoe (kindergarten).

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Hangin’ out with Caedmon (grade 3), Keegan (grade 1) and Aevan (preschool).

100th Day of School!

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On Thursday, January 28, we celebrated the 100th day of school at The Greenhouse.  Each class had activities centered around 100.   Students weighed, measured, counted, and guessed if there were more or less than 100.

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The whole school on the 100th Day of School. Principal, Mary Santos, got to wear the crown to celebrate!

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Welcome to the 100th Day of School!

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Kindergarten students practiced counting to 100!

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Grade 1 students hunt for 100 items!

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Grade 1 & 2 students roll the die 100 times!

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Grade 3 & 4 students create designs with 100 items.

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What can be done with 100 items?!?!?

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Grade 5 & 6 students explore the weights of various items!

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Weighing and measuring by the grade 5 & 6 students.

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Termites!

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A termite mound was removed from the rafters of a nearby building in early January.  On the first day of school after Christmas Break, each class at The Greenhouse took a turn studying and dissecting the mound.  Prior to the ‘field work’, each class learned about termites from books borrowed from the school library.

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Kindergarten, grades 1 & 2 students start their examination of the mound!

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We looked at the bottom of the mound.

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The kids agree that it was super hard!

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We saw some termites and ants in the abandoned tunnels.

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Some grade 3 students are getting ready for a closer look!

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Knock, knock…

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A close-up picture of the bottom of our termite mound.

 

 

First day of the new school year, August 10, 2015

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Excitement was high both outside and inside of school on the first day of the new school year.  Students and parents were gathering outside waiting for the bell to ring.  Teachers and staff were inside with last-minute preparations and peeking out the window to catch glimpses of their students.

Home school students and The Greenhouse students will have three weeks of classroom learning: reviewing math skills, writing research reports (grades 3-6), science projects and learning about Ancient Egypt. We’re off to a good start with lots of learning and growing to come in the next three weeks!

Mrs. Santos talks with students about where they can and cannot play at recess.

Mrs. Santos talks with students about where they can and cannot play at recess.

Parents and teachers listen to instructions on the 1st day of school.

Parents and teachers listen to instructions on the 1st day of school.

The grade 5 & 6 students know how to line up!

The grade 5 & 6 students know how to line up!

Kindergarten students (on right) and grade 1 & 2 students line up for class.

Kindergarten students (on right) and grade 1 & 2 students line up for class.

Volunteers provide answers for where students can play at recess.

Volunteers provide answers for where students can play at recess.

Waiting patiently to go to class.

Waiting patiently to go to class.

The 100th Day of School

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Friday, January 23, 2015 was the 100th Day of School at The Greenhouse. We celebrated school-wide with special activities in each class!

Several teachers came to school looking 100 years old.  We especially enjoyed Miss Myrtle and Miss Gertle leading our chapel worship :-).

The kindergarten and grade 1 & 2 teachers: Miss Gertle and Miss Myrtle

The kindergarten and grade 1 & 2 teachers: Miss Gertle and Miss Myrtle

Worship during chapel

Worship during chapel

Students in grades kindergarten through grade 2 also came dressed as 100 year olds.  Some had special glasses, most had flour-white hair while others needed a cane and one student had a paper white beard.  Very creative indeed!

These kindergarten students look to be 100 years old!

These kindergarten students look to be 100 years old!

Pretending to be 100 years old, these grade 2 students need a cane.

Pretending to be 100 years old, these grade 1 students need a cane.

These 100 year old grade 2 students!

These are 100 year old students!

In PE, Mrs. Anderson had the students do 100 physical activities such as 10 jumping jacks, jumping 10 hurdles, bouncing a basketball 10 times, running 10 laps, etc.  Amazing what the kids could do!

100 physical activities included jumping hurdles

100 physical activities included jumping hurdles

Grades 1-4 combined efforts for a multi-class scavenger hunt for numbers 1 through 100.  In pairs, the students found the hidden numbers and then had to put them in order on the number line on the classroom floor.

Pairs of grade 1-4 students located the hidden 1-100 cards and then put them in order.

Pairs of students located the hidden 1-100 cards and then put them in order.

In the 5th and 6th grade classroom, students were counting 100 items and then weighing and measuring them.

Counting and weighing 100 items

Counting and weighing 100 items

Counting and weighing 100 items

Counting and weighing 100 items

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Miss Watts and Grandma Gracie

Miss Watts and Grandma Gracie

Even Miss Watts got into the spirit of things and brought Grandma Gracie to school! She can give you Miss Watt’s list of Top 100 Favorite Books in the ERC.

Overall, the day was most enjoyable with opportunities for teamwork and math and a break from the routines of school.

P.S. Don’t tell the kids they were doing math!

December 2014 JLS

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Home school families and The Greenhouse students enjoyed two weeks of classroom teaching time, December 8-19, 2014. The sports this session was swimming which is a highlight for most students.  Nine afternoons in the pool as part of school, it just doesn’t get any better than that for most kids!

At the American School of Yaounde (ASOY) or at the French Club, it was a team of 20 parents, staff and volunteers who drove, taught and assisted the various levels.  The students made great progress!  Well done to everyone!

All the students and staff of the December 2014 JLS.

All the students and staff of the December 2014 JLS.

Students and staff at the December 2014 JLS - with reindeer antlers :-).

Students and staff at the December 2014 JLS – with reindeer antlers :-).

Level 1 swimmers

Level 1 swimmers

Level 2 swimmers

Level 2 swimmers

Level 3 swimmers

Level 3 swimmers

Level 4 swimmers

Level 4 swimmers

Level 5 swimmers

Level 5 swimmers

Levels 6-10 swimmers

Levels 6-10 swimmers

The staff at FES…

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We are blessed by the quality and commitment of the teachers and staff at The Greenhouse.  We expect a lot of them in the course of a school year.

The year starts with three weeks of classroom teaching for the August JLS (for home school and The Greenhouse students).  Once over and minus the home school kids, teachers now make lesson plans for The Greenhouse kids for the rest of the semester.

Just before the end of the semester, teachers re-do all their lesson plans as the home school kids return to Yaounde for the December JLS.  This will include some of the same kids as were here in August, or there may be other home school children.  Either way, it’s a change in the social and teaching dynamics of the classroom!  And the school day is shorter due to swimming lessons!

Often in January, families will arrive in Yaounde for the first time or will be returning from a furlough.  This is yet another change in the social and teaching dynamics of the classroom.  The routine stays pretty much the same for the rest of the 3rd quarter.

Fourth quarter of the year is all a jumble!  After a 2.5 week Spring Break in March/early April, we have the April JLS with the home school kids.  Again, some of the same students and there may be some that we haven’t seen since August…or maybe this is the 3rd JLS they’ve been at this year.  Either way, we love having them and the energy and enthusiasm they bring to the classroom.

By the end of the April JLS, there’s only about 5 weeks of school left in The Greenhouse school year.  Time to buckle down, finish up, and tie up the loose strings!

The amazing staff for the 2014-15 school year:

  • Mary Santos – FES Coordinator/Principal
  • DeAnna Anderson – FES Assistant, PE Teacher
  • Kay Watts – ERC Manager & Librarian
  • Carolyn Partridge – Itinerant Teacher
  • Beth Ervin – Kindergarten Teacher, Fall 2014
  • Katie Marjorins – Kindergarten Assistant, Fall 2014, Kindergarten Teacher, Spring 2015
  • Karen Merry – Grade 1 & 2 Teacher
  • Naomi Emberson – Grade 3 & 4 Teacher
  • Barbara Lane – Grade 5 & 6 Teacher
  • Donna Cox – Music teacher
  • Renee Isaac – French Teacher
  • Jeff Dangers – ESL Tutor
Mrs. Mary Santos FES Coordinator

Mrs. Mary Santos
FES Coordinator

Mrs. DeAnna Anderson FES Assistant, PE Teacher

Mrs. DeAnna Anderson
FES Assistant, PE Teacher

Miss Kay Watts ERC Manager & Librarian

Miss Kay Watts
ERC Manager &
Librarian

Mrs. Beth Ervin Kindergarten Teacher Fall 2014

Mrs. Beth Ervin
Kindergarten Teacher
Fall 2014

Miss Katie Majorins, Kindergarten Assistant, Fall 2014; Kindergarten Teacher , Spring 2015

Miss Katie Majorins, Kindergarten Assistant, Fall 2014; Kindergarten Teacher, Spring 2015

Miss Karen Merry Teacher grades 1 &2

Miss Karen Merry
Teacher grades 1 & 2

 

Miss Naomi Emberson  Teacher Grades 3 & 4

Miss Naomi Emberson
Teacher Grades 3 & 4

Mrs. Barb Lane Teacher Grade 5 & 6

Mrs. Barb Lane
Teacher Grade 5 & 6

Mr. Jeff Dangers ESL Tutor

Mr. Jeff Dangers
ESL Tutor