Our mission...

The mission of the Teacher to Teacher Team is to provide access to age-appropriate books for primary school children and to provide assistance to teachers and administrators in methodology and techniques in curriculum.

The Teacher to Teacher Team is sponsored by the Sierra Leone Health Partners.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Teacher to Teacher....Back Home

"Back Home Again in Indiana", that song always seems to lifts one's spirits. Thank you all for your prayers. God was with us. Even Sawyer, who's flight was delayed, is now home safely in FL and John & Pat joined their daughter in Maine! And now time to reflect on all that the Lord has done using our hands and voices and your contributions!. Praise His Name!  Amy

Monday, July 8, 2013

Teacher to Teacher...Coming home

This morning is our final Freetown morning for this trip.  We will make our way into the city for some final shopping and lunch, then it is on to the ferry for the trip to the airport.  We are rejoicing together over the two weeks we have had here to do what God put in front of us to do.  We've traveled through some big potholes, experienced some rain showers, worked with a lot of teachers, seen some beautiful and some not so beautiful sights...but all in all it has been  good.

Last night we traveled to the beach for a bit of relaxation and a good dinner.  It was a delightful way to end the time together.  We will see you soon.  Thank you for praying for us.  Sharon

Teacher to Teacher....from Linda

The first week, at Makeni,  I was able to spend time reading to the children.  So many wanted to hear the story that Leonard had to come and do crowd control.

During one session I asked the 2A teacher to send 20 children over to the resource center.  We were able to show the teachers how they could do stations.  The class size is 70 students but they felt they could make it work.  One group read for fluency.  We had a basket of books to read from, one group did spelling practice, and one group read with the teacher.

Later that week we used the resource center to bring in all 73 4A students.  Reading textbooks had been donated.  They each had a book.  We read a poem several times and talked about it.  Three students volunteered to read the poem to the class.  They did an awesome job.  The teachers felt this was very workable for their classroom.

I arranged and organized the books that were already in the resource center.  The student books, teachers manual and supplemental materials are now all in one spot.  Sally, the head teacher and librarian, and I worked on the "how to read" and teacher's books.

The second week were were separated from the primary school.  I did read to the preschool, 3, 4, and 5 year olds.  There were 60 altogether.  They were so precious.  They would repeat what I said.  Dr. Seuss never sounded so good.  This is a very new concept for Sierra Leone, working with children before Class I. The teachers are doing an amazing job.  Several do not get any pay, they just volunteer.

I am so moved by the dedication these teacher have for the children of their country.  They feel deeply that the only way our of poverty is through education.      ...Linda

Sunday, July 7, 2013


The three classroom pictures are all from the same class at Kenema Primary School.

One teacher with 76 students.

Carrying the classroom supply of water for the day.

One of the head teachers teaching a hands-on science class on leaves to the rest of the teachers.

Teachers taking a look at the new Kenema Primary School library.

The parsonage kitchen where the ladies of the church cooked for us every day.

Teacher to Teacher...from Freetown

Good Morning from Freetown.  We arrived here late yesterday afternoon and are staying at the Kona Lodge.  We will stay here again tonight before we head to the airport for departure tomorrow evening.  We have good internet here so I'll try to get another blog and some pictures on this afternoon.  Thanks for your prayers - this has been a great week of ministry....actually it has been two great weeks of ministry....but we are all ready to get home to family and friends.   Sharon

Here's a blog from Marti that was written a few days ago...Teacher Salaries in Sierra Leone

Teachers were very receptive today.  Linda and I asked about their teaching situations.  all of our Pre-School, Class One and  Class Two teacher have several years experience, yet were not paid a salary.

I cannot imagine teaching for YEARS with no salary.  They shared how much they love teaching and how they keep staying because they love the children.  Leonard Gbloh, director of the UMC Primary Schools, says sometimes families will give teachers a bag of rice or other food for preparation, but for the most part, promised government subsidies don't get paid. Yet the teachers tell how respected they are in the communities.  Leonard does say getting teachers to stay is difficult.  DUH!!!  Often their attendance is inconsistent with little repercussions, since they are essentially volunteers.

The teachers have 70 to 98 students in sparsely furnished classrooms, but they are absolutely delighted with any little teaching resource our team has given them.   Marti H.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Teacher to Teacher Friday morning in Kenema

Two of the the Sierra Leonean teachers gave demonstration lessons yesterday.  Mohamed Koroma first organized the teachers into 3 groups and started a model lesson in environmental science by sending the participants outdoors to collect a variety of leaves.  He dictated six questions to guide group discussion and had each group choose a secretary to record group responses.  After adequate time to complete the activity, the secretary of each group reported the group's findings.  Mohamed reminded participants that each group was reporting on its own leaves, not everyone else's and to listen and not dispute findings.  He then went through again and guided the whole group in reaching consensus. He commended each group's responses as valid, with no wrong answers.  He also validated individuals' use of local names for the plants. He gave a follow-up assignment that allowed use of familiar names for the plants.  Also, he had started with a focusing activity and inserted a kinesthetic activity during the lesson.  It was an excellent lesson and required no materials other than the leaves and the pencil and paper the participants used.
 Friday morning we will finish with two more sessions, lunch, and a closing celebration.
Then we will head for NJala University and Taiama before going on to Freetown on Saturday.  Pat

Each morning we open the workshop with singing & prayers. We usually listen in awe as the teachers sing with so much vigor and joy! This morning after their singing, I told them about our Independence Day Celebrations each year on July 4. Since both of our countries were colonized by Great Britain and they celebrate Indpendence Day later in the year, we were able to highlight the similarities in our history. Marti then read God of All the Nations from the hymnal and our team sang America the Beautiful! Although we normally avoid highlighting things from our society, this was an opportunity to demonstrate that we love our country as they do theirs.  Amy

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Teacher to Teacher.....from Sawyer

Yesterday and today I got in a few good interviews that highlight the hopeful and grateful nature of the Sierra Leoneans. I was thinking today it was a shame the trip has been so smooth so far (with exception to the roads) that I won’t have any drama to add too my feature. Of course the country itself is dramatic in its landscape, poverty and beautiful people. It was good to hear from the head teacher how much he believed in the child centered teaching methods that we are suggesting, as opposed to the common “chalk” method which is probably the easier method in the overcrowded classrooms, but which is rote and ineffective. It is no surprise that the education level here is substandard when the limited children who can go to school learn through chalkboard lectures. It can be amusing to watch the teachers go through the workshops which go a lot like an elementary school, they sit in groups, they learn basic math and go out to collect different types of leaves for science. But just as hands on learning help children, it also shows the teachers the benefits of modern educational techniques. Even though the workshops are coming to a close, we still have a long way to get home so please continue to pray for the teams safety, and that our work will become a deep-rooted foundation for the Sierra Leone teachers to build a stronger education.  Sawyer

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Sierra Leone

Certificates were given at the end of first week.

Reading in the new library

Amy presents new soccer ball to the head teacher.

Teacher bags - they were a hit.

Trainee Head Teacher giving a talk.

Amy teaching.

from Kenema ..... by Lisa

The roads in Kenema are horrible!  Never seen anything like it,  Our library is in a separate building on the grounds of the elementary.  Our workshops are about a mile away on the grounds of the church and preschool. Our supplies have to be stored each night in a locked area of the parsonage next door.

Today we ferried small groups of our teachers over to see the completed library and learn from Sharon how they can use a library.

I thought a math session for the Class III, IV teachers.  We talked about the use of the number line, number boxes, dice, and forms of bingo to augment and enhance math.

A double session of science with the V, VI teachers followed.  We talked about such topics as the solar system and mosquitoes as disease carriers.We completed an adapted version of the science unit Mystery Powders.  We tested 5 powders (sugar, salt, baking soda, cornstarch and plaster of paris with water, vinegar, iodine, and heat. Participants enjoyed finding out the identity of their myster powder.  A highlight of the session was creting a scale model of the solar system using some rocks and a tape measure.  In our model Earth was 1 foot from the sun while Pluto was 39 feet away! They loved the elegance of taking the huge distances in space and making them understandable to their students.

I had a very satisfying day, sharing teaching "nuggets with such interested teachers.  So rewarding!  Lisa

Lisa teaching math games.

Teacher to Teacher .... from Marti

Packing up to leave Makeni for the weekend to rest in Bo then driving on to Kenema's workshops, our suitcases are getting lighter.  The participants in the Makeni workshops went back with many teaching supplies to make their job more effective.  It was amazing how many creative items that our team brought to share.

We purchased or had donated items which lit-up participants faces.  Pens, high-lighters, notepads, notebooks, rubber bands, erasers, staplers, story books, charts,  flashcards, game pieces, etc....the list goes on and on.  We are so grateful for those back home who are supporting the project.  Even our own families have helped us tremendously.

Before another team comes to work with more teachers here in Sierra Leone we need to create a wish list based on the most effective teacher gifts for the teachers.  The participants go home excited about teaching. Praise be to God!   Marti H.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kenema...Teacher to Teacher

Hello from Kenema! We arrived here Sunday afternoon, but to this point we have had no Internet service. Everything is going well. We have had two days of workshops and the library is set up! The library had already been organized by one of the teachers and he did a wonderful job.  We just had to add some more books and put up lots of posters.

Tomorrow is another opportunity to train some teachers! Off to bed for some much needed rest. Please continue to pray for us!  Will post more tomorrow as Internet access allows.  Sharon

Saturday, June 29, 2013


A precious student praying during the morning assembly at Makeni Primary School

The new Mother and Child unit at Kissy Hospital

Morning assembly at Makeni school

Teacher workshops begin

Unpacking the library

Teacher to Teacher...Saturday continued...

  We visited Manonkoh Primary School and also the clinic in that village.  John, the head teacher from Manonkoh was helping to facilitate our workshop at Makeni.  A couple of his teachers were also workshop participants.  John was a participant in our first workshop at the Urban Center in Kissy in 2011 when he was a teacher at Calaba Town.  The dictionary he received at that workshop was on his desk in his office. He had also the beginnings of a library in the storage room behind his office.  His school has received lots of support from Africa Uplifted, a group from Minnesota.  The classrooms had some built in shelving, good chalkboards extending along a full wall, and hooks for the children's school bags.  Also, there were covered water containers and cups so the children could have water during the day. Several of the classrooms had teaching posters, mostly handmade attached to the walls.  All these things are very rare in primary schools in Sierra Leone. John stressed that he tries to limit class sizes so that classrooms are not so crowded.  No more than two students to a bench. I don't know if by limiting class sizes, some children are turned away, but smaller classes are definitely an advantage for the students who are there. Also, there was some landscaping, making the space around the buildings more pleasant than most.  I have never seen an actual playground or any playground equipment at any of the schools here.  Manonkoh is the exception, not the rule, but is an example of what can be done to change things.   from Pat Macdonald

What an  incredible team we have!  This group of 8 have revealed and used a vast array of  skills and experiences with the 20 Sierra Leonean teachers.  The results were evident asp the teachers shared the things they learned and plan to use during the final closing and celebration.  They sang, rejoiced, and cheered as they received certificates and bags of supplies and books to carry back to their schools.  The Head Teacher at Makeni UMC Primary School who now is responsible for the coordination of the library, generously shared from the shelves to allow each school to use those exciting books. Hallelujah, we're off! Kenema, here we come!   from Amy Zent

Teacher to Teacher ... Saturday

Hello from Bo, Sierra Leone.

Yesterday we celebrated with the Makeni teachers and then hit the road. The drive to Bo was a wonderful way to see the country and the various villages.  We had a bit of a problem with a tire on the van, but that was fixed and we arrived at the Mission Training Center in Bo. Today after breakfast some of took a tour of the Child Rescue Center. More details in another blog entry coming soon. Thanks for continuing to pray.  Sharon

From Lisa.......

They standing the dirt outside outside in in home. They cling to Mother's skirt or ride on her back.  Most  wore a shirt or shorts, not always both, and A few go bare. The clothes are often torn, too small, or too large.  They are the children of Sierra Leone.

Families with enough money can afford a uniform for their child and send them to school. Those who can't buy a uniform can not go.  But they sometimes are drawn to the school to peer in the windows or stand around on the dirt playground. Many are curious, but don't know English, so school learning is lost to them.

Children who are fortunate enough go to school, but the odds are against are still against them. A class I     herein Makeni has 109 students, 1 teacher, a chalkboard, and bench seats. That is all. More than 40 students is the norm.  The rooms are not secure at hight, so there are no puzzles, no charts on the wall, no books, no puzzles no learning tools. The rooms have no electricity, so no. lighting, except that which comes through windows.

Students have no books. Some can afford to have a pencil and paper, some just a pencil, and some with nothing. No provision is made for those with hearing or vision problems or with leaning differences.

At the end of class VI they take an exam. If they pass, they can go onto secondaryschool. If not, their schooling is over. They face early marriage, children of their own, they can barely feed and clothe, almost no skills and poverty.

These children of Sierra Leone are inquisitive, open and friendly. They are children of God. But for most, their future isn't bright.  Lisa  6/27/13

Friday, June 28, 2013

Teacher to Teacher Friday morning

Good Morning from Sierra Leone!

Thursday was a busy, busy day, after all the teacher workshops we visited a school of one of the teachers attending the workshops. He is a head teacher in one of the village schools. We also got to visit the clinic there to see what services they are providing to the people.

The library was ready to go so I gave three training sessions to show them what was available and give them some ways to use these books. The most thrilling part of the session was when I said"go enjoy the books". They spent 30 minutes absolutely quiet, reading, and smiling. Thank you to everyone who contributed books.

Today we do 2 workshops, have a lunch with the teachers, and then a closing assembly. After that we drive to Bo, the second largest city here, for 2 days before we move on to Kenema for the next workshops. We aren't sure whether there will be Internet access there.  Thanks for your prayer support. We need prayer for energy to complete the work set before us.  Sharon

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Teacher to Teacher...Wednesday

Today was our third day at the school in Makeni. It rained this morning which I noticed affected school attendance. The teachers explained that without school bus or even proper raincoats or umbrellas most parents don't allow their children to risk catching a cold. I spoke to a child yesterday on video who claimed he had a four hour walk to school, as unbelievable as that sounds, walking several kilometers seems to the norm. Through all the effort to get to school only to sit in an overcrowded classroom with virtually zero supplies is mind boggling. Often times the conditions are overwhelming as if our supplies and efforts could hardly leave a dent,but when we see the excitement of the students it is obvious that what we are able to provide through the grace of God is making an infinite impact on the 1000 students here, and to come. Please continue to pray for the mission, that the lessons are able to be shared throughout Sierra Leone, and also for Nelson Mandela, a national hero here.     Sawyer

Teacher to Teacher Tuesday ...continued

Although we are helping establish a library at Makeni, upper elementary class teachers from other schools expressed frustration with the lack of a library, books,and reference materials that would enable them to meet the educational  needs of their students. While listing the resources that would be   necessary in order to make libraries a reality in their school, one teacher said "the help of God."  Please join with Michael Kamara praying for the teachers and students in UMC schools in Sierra Leone and also consider whether you are called to be an answer to those prayers.  Pat Macdonald

With class one and two teachers participating in the teacher to teacher workshop, one participant, Roseline, offered to allow Linda to demonstrate with a lab school kind of setting, using 20 Sierra Leone students. The "Learning Centers"we're spelling, reading, reading from grade level books with the teacher and a "look at books" table.

In the spelling center, one little child struggled to write even three letters while the other children finished the list. She could not write her name on the paper. She was totally lost.

But how could a teacher determine who needs help. Another gentleman, Solomon, has 109 children in his first grade class! It makes us wonder how a teacher could keep track of each of the learning needs of each individual! Yet most teachers expressed their children were ready to go on to the next level.  Martin H.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Teacher to Teacher Tuesday

Today as we registered the arriving teachers, a Head Teacher (Principal) appeared who said he did not know about the workshop for Head Teachers the previous day. He was not informed! I asked Leonard,the Conference Sec. Of UMC Primary Schools,why he wasn't told. Leonard said the gentleman lives in a village where you must stand in one spot to access wifi. Unless the Head Teacher calls Leonard for updates, he would not know what is going on. I allowed him to stay!  Amy

I met first with the group of Class III and IV teachers. Each received a deck of cards,and we discussed ways a teacher could us it to review numbers,practice multiplication and division, and encourage student use of numbers.
With the Class V and VI group, we worked similarly worked with calculators and special math decks of cards.
My session with the Class I and II teachers included using counters to learn numbers, bundling sticks for place value practice, using a 100'schart for patterning, and using modified deck of cards for several types of practice.
All the participants in the three small groups were polite and attentive, despite the heat and infrequent language struggles. A great first day!   Lisa

Monday, June 24, 2013

It Begins...First Meeting

Hello from Sierra Leone!  Let me explain about all the mistakes in Marti's post...I was typing at 6:30 this morning in the dark.!

It's now almost 5 p.m.  We have had a busy day!  We met with the head teachers. Lisa presented her math and science curriculums. She will be teaching the upper level teachers this week. Marti presented the virtues curriculum and ideas for positive reinforcement. Marti and Linda will be teaching the lower level teachers. Amy and Pat presented ideas for the administration of a staff and answered questions.  Sawyer was busy taking video and being pursued by kids to have their picture taken.

Meanwhile the boxes and boxes of books arrived for the library. Sharon was just a bit overwhelmed with the idea of organizing all of them.

Please to pray for us. Pray for energy as we work in the hot humid condition. Pray that we will show the love of Jesus to the teachers and students...the kids are still in school.

Thanks for your support and encouragement!   Sharon

In transit...

Work up in Brussels - on to Dakar then finally on to Freetown. After 48 hours we rested, ended the longest day of the year.

From waking up in Indianapolis on Thursday to tucking ourselves in bed on Friday night in Freetown it had been almost 48 hours.  The full moon reflecting on the bay, crossing from the airport at Lungi to Freetown reminded us we are at Summer solistie . It had indeed been the longest day of the year.

In our morning devotional I shared from Deitrick Bonhoffer  "whatever this day may bring Thy name be praised". May this blessing be true for our mission.    Marti

Sunday, June 23, 2013

We have arrived in Makena

We arrived in Sierra Leone as expected on Friday. We have spent Saturday and Sunday morning in Freetown and this afternoon we drove to Makena. Tomorrow we start the workshops with the teachers.  We will post something tomorrow about the trip here. We praise God for a good trip and we know He is going to do a good work this week. Keep praying.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Message from Bishop Yambasu

Dear Marilyn, 

Thanks for putting together an education VIM team for Sierra Leone.  Leonard is all geared up to receive the team. Leonard has delivered the books to Makeni. 

On behalf of all our primary schools in Makeni and Kenema, I warmly welcome the team "home".

Thank you for making me feel so much at home in your home during my last visit. You continue to be a blessing to us in Sierra Leone.

Do hope you both are well and doing fine.
Blessings and peace

Bishop Yambasu

Monday, June 10, 2013

Meet the Team

Front Row:  Marti Hunsucker, Amy Zent, Linda Newsome
Back Row:  Sharon Puterbaugh, Lisa Ranck, John and Pat Macdonald
Sawyer Zent

Team Leader - Amy Zent...
Twice in the past two years I have traveled to Sierra Leone, W. Africa with teams to share with primary school teachers techniques I learned during 40 years as an educator. I expect to help the other team members conduct workshops in teaching language arts, math and science as well as organize a school library in two UMC Primary Schools, Makeni and Kenema. We will also orient the Head Teachers (Principals) to the workshops and survey their needs in administration. As in the past, I expect to be greatly impressed with the enthusiasm and excitement of the teachers and how effective they are with such minimal resources. We will treasure your prayers for our safety and success.  Amy
Sawyer Zent...
I have recently graduated from college with a degree in video production. I’m very excited that I was invited to participate in this year’s mission. I have done some traveling before, but never to a place that needed my help.  I look forward not only to helping school children in Sierra Leone, but also documenting the trip through the lens of a video camera. A short digital video I made using pictures from last year’s trip has already proven a success in raising awareness and funds. I am confident that filming the trip will go a long way in promoting the program and spreading the word!  Sawyer

Lisa Ranck...

I come to the Sierra Leone mission as a retired teacher with a thirty-plus year career.  I am looking forward to the opportunity to share my training and experience in elementary education teaching with the teachers of Sierra Leone, who perservere with extremely limited materials and training.  I am developing math and science components to add to the important language arts, literacy skills, and library lessons we provide.  What a blessing to be able to help both the teachers and the children of this developing country.  Lisa

Linda Newsome...

In May 2012, I retired from 36 years of teaching.  Soon after, I was given the incredible opportunity to continue sharing my love for education, but in a way that rewards my soul!  I am an active member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, where I have been able to participate in missionary trips to Haiti.  During these trips, my purpose was to develop the skills of teachers and provide them with the appropriate knowledge and tools needed to teach children in grade levels Pre-K through third.  Now I join this team to travel to Sierra Leone and teach teachers!  Linda
Sharon Puterbaugh...

Since retiring from teaching I have made several trips to South Africa where I have been involved in children's ministry and training Sunday school teachers.  I've also been involved in a ministry with senior ladies there.  Last summer God opened the doors for me to spend two weeks in Kenya where I worked with a baby rescue center and visited several orphanages. I am excited to travel to Sierra Leone with this team and look forward to the opportunities to be the "hands and feet of Jesus".  Thank you for your prayers!   Sharon

Pat Macdonald...

  My first opportunity to go to Sierra Leone came in 2008 and it has changed my world.   I had been involved as church and district coordinator for Operation Classroom, but this gave me the chance to experience firsthand the enormous challenges Sierra Leonean teachers face and a deep appreciation for the work these teachers do under seemingly impossible circumstances.  This will be my fifth trip to Sierra Leone and the third one focused on working with teachers in primary schools.  I feel blessed to have been given the privilege to be in relationship with so many wonderful people and to share some of what I have learned from 28 years of teaching.   I will again be working with the language arts, specifically vocabulary development, dictionary use, and writing skills.  I look forward to once more spending time among these teachers and children whose faith, commitment, and joy have and will continue to enrich my life.  I pray I can give back at least some measure of what they have given me. 

John Macdonald...

  When I retired after a 40-year career in electrical/electronic engineering, I asked God to show me a way to use that background in some kind of service for Him.  He answered that prayer in a way I could never have imagined when he opened the door for me to work with hospitals and schools in Sierra Leone.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to continue doing the work I enjoy while getting to travel, learn, and work with many new friends.   My love for the people of Sierra Leone continues to grow.  This trip will be a departure from the work I have done on previous trips, but I hope that I will be able to use my in-country experience to provide logistical, communications, and any other kind of support needed by the primary education team. 

Marti Hunsucker...

Marti Hunsucker (Margaret),Artist, Teacher and Christian Educator, is a member of the St. Luke UMC Congregation,.. Her teaching experience for Westfield-Washington schools included 11 years teaching Kindergarten, 12 years teaching first grade and 3 years teaching second grade gifted and talented classes. For 13 years Marti served the United Methodist Church as a Christian Educator which included experience in teaching and creating programs for people from the cradle to the grave.  After retiring, she came to St. Luke's UMC. and has continued to volunteer as a teacher for: VBS, Disciple, and Adult Classes.  She is active with Studio Three, St. Luke's Art Ministry and is a Stephen Minister.  Marti and her husband, Glenn, live on a small farm in Sheridan, IN, where she serves in the Kiwanis Club for community activities.  Glenn and Marti have two adult sons and four grandchildren. 

 Marti is excited about returning to Sierra Leone for she feels the church's mission to the UMC Primary Schools in Sierra Leone can make a huge difference for the teachers and children there.  On her first visit to Sierra Leone, she was deeply impressed by the long and faithful commitment the United Methodist Church has made to that country.  St. Luke's has been an integral part of that mission.  Seeing the work at Kissy Hospital in Freetown, the success of the goat project in Tiama and the success of the Nothing But Nets campaign was just a few examples of St. Luke's presence in mission. 

Please Pray....

  • for good air travel on June 20-21 and July 8-9
  • for rest during the flights
  • for protection of the luggage for theft and damage to materials we are taking
  • for team unity, patience, and a strong bond as we work together
  • for safe in-country travel for the team and the teachers coming to the workshops
  • for the health of the team members, protection from disease and illness, and good sleep
  • for opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people
  • that we would see this as an opportunity to be the "hands and feet of Jesus"
  • for a real sense of the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we plan and teach
Thank you for praying!