It is with both a sense of sadness and excitement we are leaving Ethiopia for adventures ahead in Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Spain, and countries yet to be determined. For the past five weeks we have had the pleasure of living, working, and learning with the staff and students of the International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia (ILAE). It is hard for us to imagine a better place and group of people with whom to spend our time.
ILAE is in its second year of operation and currently serves 50 students in 9th and 10th grade. ILAE’s mission is ambitious; to offer an education that inspires, nurtures, and develops young women and men to be leaders in their communities, Ethiopia, and beyond. After our time here we are convinced that if anybody can pull this off, it is this dedicated group of staff and students.
From the day we stepped on campus, we felt not only welcome, but immediately part of the ILAE community. Noah and Caleb took classes including Civics, PE, Information Technology, and Physics. Our family joined staff and students in their daily communal lunch and I had the pleasure of working side by side with the ILAE teachers everyday.
From this experience I have learned much about what it takes to create and run a school that is truly mission-driven. What is incredible here is that even though the school operates without sufficient materials and extremely limited access to technology, learning at a very high level occurs each and everyday. As I think about returning to the US and my work at the Center for Educational Leadership, I am truly inspired by what I have learned at ILAE. My time here has taught me that:
- Teachers who are focused on the school’s mission and who know their content and students well can greatly influence student learning without much more than a white board and a basic textbook.
- Allowing your students to own the mission as much, if not more than the adults, creates a school culture that is positive and infectious.
- Adults and students can work hard together and have lots of fun together as well.
- Accepting, respecting, and leveraging the culture and assets of the students creates a positive foundation from which all can achieve.
- When students support rather than compete with each other leadership grows exponentially, rather than individually.
It is with great gratitude that we all thank the ILAE community for all you have done for us. We will miss you all!