On Friday, September 20, we drove to Alcoota to introduce our project to the principal. The experience proved to be yet another example of how the hand of God works in our lives.
We met some amazing staff: the principal, Ann Roberts, Roshanna, and Margo. On our tour, the first things I noticed as I entered the primary classroom were two large phonics charts. I told Ann how impressed I was and she said that she knows how important phonics are, but she hasn’t been able to get the money to have the teachers trained and get materials. Then I showed them my phonics program and she was thrilled. She loved the Magic Letters and the Alice Alphabet. I converted all the Power Points to shows that were compatible with their Office 2003 and she had me copy them to the server so that they could be accessed by all the computers in the school.
The secondary classroom has a state-of-the-art whiteboard with a touch screen connection to the computer that projects onto it. She said that they are getting one in the primary room as well. She plans to project the shows we gave her for group work and have the children work individually on the laptops they have, and are getting. She said she just hasn’t had the time to develop materials for the white screen like she had wanted. I showed her my collection of educational Power Points that my students had helped write as we studied various topics. She was thrilled and requested copies of those, as well. She is looking forward to receiving all of the shows on DVDs so that the students can take them home to practice.
They loved the literacy bags and said they would use them in the classroom. The children love reading and having stories read to them. They have a limited library so this will add greatly. She was thrilled with the mini units in each bag. We will send out and bring back the bags as they are used and needed. Ann plans to start holding early morning get-togethers with parents and children and use the literacy bags for group read aloud stories and activities. Gradually they will have community members take over the story times.
She loved the MacMillan Readers from Blanding, especially since I gave her explicit comprehension lesson plans to go with every second grade story and files with phonetic spelling lists.
After about an hour she left to visit with some government officials who had come to see her. When she came back, she said she had impressed upon them the importance of educating the adults and they had agreed to bring in a building for a men’s center and a women’s center. When I told her I had brought two language programs that will be on DVDs so that community members can get together and teach each other, she was thrilled.
She mentioned that key men in the community have been requesting classes for learning English. She sent us over to the Shire office to see if they could give us space for the men’s class until the building is brought in and set up.
When we got to the office, it was closed but as we were leaving town, just a half block away, we came across the two key men from the office that we needed to talk too. We introduced ourselves and the project. They took us back to the office to have a look, and Kyle, a fluent, literate Aboriginal member of the community agreed to start conducting the classes there. They were both very positive about the idea.
At that point we realized we returned to the school with books we had meant to leave there. We were introduced to Jane, a teacher from Mulga Bore who had come to see the Alcoota teachers. They were showing her our new materials with great enthusiasm. She indicated that she would be thrilled to get them in her school and we assured her we would be sharing them with her as well. We explained that we wanted to help both communities in any way we can. We promised to return this coming week with more materials and make further plans.
Is it possible that God, who loves His children, can use His missionaries, by placing them in the right place, at the right time, doing the right things? The answer is a resounding YES! Friday, September 19 was a great day. The project was launched. All day long we watched one important door after another opened for us and realized that we had once again witnessed the Lord’s hand in this project.