For her, no distance is too great to cross. Not even if the desired location is 8,704 miles.
Laura Newell is a second grade teacher at Norris Elementary, and she plans to use a great portion of her $1,000 prize money (gifted by Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA)) to enhance children’s education in Zambia.
Newell was recognized by TCEA by receiving an award for High Impact Elementary Teacher of The Year and the prize money.
She is in the process of planning for her next trip to Africa over the summer where she and her group will help improve children’s education, regulated by Family Legacy.
Family Legacy is a nonprofit organization based in Irving that assembles groups of people who are willing to travel internationally to contribute to many issues, said Newell.
Access to education is important, especially in less privileged countries because it gives those kids a bright future.
“In Zambia, if the kids learn English, they can get a better job where it will help them towards not only eating one meal a day and that sort of thing,” said Newell. “I think it just opens a door for so much more that we don’t necessarily have if we were to drop out of school or not go to college.”
By helping these children, teachers like Newell have the ability to change many students’ lives.
“It’s kind of amazing how attached they get after a short period of time,” said Newell.
The teachers from Family Legacy step in and help these children, as the methods of teaching in Zambia have been proved to be ineffective due to less quality training.
“[Teachers] have training that they get over in Africa but it’s very minimal, and it’s not up to date or current,” said Katie Clark, teacher and member of Family Legacy. “We model the strategies we use to teach, and in return they use it in their classes.”
Another obstacle that prevents quality schooling is the lack of resources.
“Dry erase markers, pencils, pens, or sharpeners are great supplies to bring,” said Newell. “I’ve seen some kids use razor blades to sharpen their pencils before.”
Not only are the resources important for a classroom environment, but so is a balanced rapport between students and teachers.
“Connecting with students is obviously the most important thing,” said Clark. “In the past during recess period, we would go out and play with the kids rather than just watching the kids play amongst themselves.”
When more teachers participate in impactful events, the issue is closer to being resolved.
“Once you leave, you’ll probably never see the same kids again,” said Newell. “ But just knowing that in one week you made an impact on so many students’ lives makes you feel happy.”