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Fulbright Scholars in Rwanda

fulbright rwanda tour crossing borders

Genocide to Regeneration: An Exploration of Rwandan Social Justice Issues through the Lens of Education

The tour was the result of a generous grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the Fulbright-Hays Projects Abroad group study program. For the 2016 fiscal years, Avila was the only university in Missouri or Kansas to receive this Fulbright grant. The grant was designated for strengthening the capacity and performance of American education in world languages, cultural understanding, international studies and research. This grant provided for a total of 15 individuals to participate. It was a three-phase project that included a pre-departure orientation, a four-week study tour of Rwanda featuring first-person engagement and cultural immersion opportunities, and post-trip follow-up and dissemination activities which include a day-long Rwandan Genocide and Social Justice Issues Seminar for K-12 educators and the public in the greater Kansas City area. 

Through the project, participating educators were able to:

  • Gain first-hand experiences exploring the 1994 genocide, reconciliation efforts within Rwandan society, and social justice challenges relevant in the Rwandan context.
  • Collect relevant artifacts, materials, and resources to build an electronic resource repository to share with educators.
  • Create curriculum units and lesson plans around the Rwandan genocide, social justice issues, and Rwandan area and cultural studies, for incorporation into curricula throughout Kansas, Missouri, and beyond.
  • Acquire the necessary information, training, and experience to disseminate what they have learned to fellow educators throughout the educational system.
  • Develop and deepen their cross-cultural understanding and competency.

Activities During the Group Study in Rwanda:

  • Visited genocide sites and memorials with educators and historians who gave lectures, perspectives and insights about the significance of the sites and the happenings of the genocide.
  • Dialogued with genocide survivors who gave first-hand accounts of their experiences and those of family members and friends.
  • Dialogued with refugees who fled Rwanda to surrounding countries during the genocide and heard their accounts of life as displaced people. These survivors also shared information about the social justice issues they encountered returning to Rwanda following the genocide.
  • Dialogued with former child soldiers conscripted into militias and forced to join the efforts of military and rebel activities. These survivors shared first-hand accounts of their lives as child soldiers and shared information about the social justice issues they encountered trying to seek reintegration into civil society and the educational system. 
  • Visited Rwandan schools and dialogued with Rwandan teachers and school administrators serving in formal educational settings. They spoke with our teachers about education as a tool for reconciliation in the society, comparative education, issues of educational access in Rwanda, teacher training, languages of schooling, classroom and professional development resources, scope and sequence of curriculum, parent/family/community connections, and other topics of interest in the cross-cultural exchanges.
  • Dialogued with Rwandan students being educated in formal educational settings. Students shared from their perspectives on the strengths and challenges of the Rwandan educational system, information about their educational goals and aspirations, first-hand experiences as learners in schools and other topics of interest.
  • Visited informal/non-formal educational settings and dialogued with teachers and educators serving in informal/non-formal and vocational education settings. These educators spoke to the educational needs of those who missed formal education as children/teenagers and the types of social justice efforts to help these individuals to obtain the knowledge, skills, and professional behaviors needed to be productive citizens with sustainable income earning potential in society.
  • Dialogued with students participating in vocational educational settings. These participants shared first-hand the strengths and challenges of their programs.  They shared their stories and invited the U.S. teachers to explore the products, skills, and opportunities vocational education made possible for them. 
  • Visited service sites and dialogued with social workers working with vulnerable and marginalized children, youth, and adults from a whole person perspective. These service providers shared their experiences and allowed the group study participants to meet clients with whom they work.
  • Dialogued with government officials who contributed additional perspective on Vision 20/20 and issues of genocide, societal reconciliation, human rights, and social justice.

 

AVILA RWANDA TOUR

Avila Fulbright Scholar Reflections

July 3

Fulbright Scholars are on their way to Rwanda.

On the way to Rwanda, we find a Starbucks in Amsterdam and get invited to a wedding!

July 4

Made it safely to Kigali. As the morning mist clears, I'm ready to meet and learn from the people here who have already been so welcoming. Here's to the first day in Rwanda!

Lots of lights! Lots of shoes! Night one in our hotel!

July 5

Yesterday we visited Hotel Des Millie Collines (aka Hotel Rwanda). As I sat drinking coffee and taking in the beautiful senerary, the weight of the genocide began to become more noticeable. This is the first time on the trip that the country's history became real to me. In the states it is so easy to separate and compartmentalized the pain of the world from my daily life, but now that is now longer an option. I must face the darkness in hopes of understanding the tremendous progress Rwanda has made. #fulbright #rwandastrong

Contemporary art on display at the des Mille Collines, hotel where Rwandans took refuge in '94.

A lovely setting to review and discuss documents.

Enjoying the view and doing some research.

The two undergrads are ready to take on day 1 in Rwanda with open hearts and open minds.

Busy, beautiful city of Kigali, Rwanda

July 6

The Breakfast Club in Nyamata at the Golden Tulip La Palisse Kigali.

 

I sat at a comfortable distance for months, reading, viewing, listening and learning about this country and culture, and more specifically their painful past of discrimination, corruption, and violence. Today that changed. Today I heard from people whom lost loved ones in the genocide. Today I saw churches with blasted holes in the brick walls from grenades where women, children and disabled lost their lives. Today I saw coffins with thousands of skulls and bones, many never having been identified. Today I saw the very clothes of the victims piled on pews. Today I saw the machetes used to kill innocent lives. Today I felt overwhelmed. I struggle to make sense of the horrific happenings of this beautiful place.. Today I am reminded that Satan indeed lives among us, but thankful that our God does, too.

"Light of Hope"

Images from a powerful visit to the Genocide Memorial sites in Nyamata & Ntarama. Gardens at one of the memorial sites

July 7

Sunrise rise over Lake Kivu.
-Kimberly Sonnich Hillstock, July 7, 2017

Gardens at the National Genocide Memorial.
-Kimberly Sonnich Hillstock, July 7, 2017


July 8


Living the Lake Kivu life this morning.
-Brooke Kueser VanHecke, July 8, 2017

Within the Kigali Genocide Memorial, there is a room devoted to the children lost through the genocide. When entering the Children's Room, a plaque states "Children, you might have been our national heroes." What we have seen from the survivors is that they have become the national heroes who are entrusted to bear witness for their families, friends, and neighbors. The resilience and dedication of those we have met is inspiring beyond words.
-Brooke Kueser VanHecke, July 8, 2017

Good Morning from Lake Kivu.
-Madison Mueth, July 8, 2017

I am quickly falling in love with this country.
-Kristin May, July 8, 2017

Portraits of the brave heroes that saved many lives during the genocide.
-Kristin May, July 8, 2017

July 9

We had quite the day in Rwanda! Boat rides on Lake Kivu to memorial sites, hiking up mountains, and seeing more of the beautiful Rwandan landscape was the start to our day. Our midday excitement was a road block lasting about two hours. We didn't complain, for we got to play with the children from a local village all afternoon. We finally made it to Giseyni where we had a wonderful meal with our hosts Simone Pierre and Caritas.
-Brooke Kueser VanHecke, July 9, 2017


July 10

Student artwork at Nyundo Genocide Memorial that depicts the darkness of the past and the light of the future.

Road blocked. No problem. No road rage. Let's play soccer and then sing and dance. -Kimberly Sonnich Hillstock, July 10, 2017

I used to think the two most powerful two-word phrases were I am sorry and Thank you. But the words on this genocide memorial are the most important and powerful of all: NEVER AGAIN.
-Kimberly Sonnich Hillstock, July 10, 2017

July 11


Visited the Early Childhood development center here in Giseyni today. This facility provides affordable child care and schooling for about 60 marginalized children in the area- ranging from 2-5 years old. We had the opportunity to dialogue with the mothers and fathers whose children are able to have this opportunity. Another amazing center serving the Ribavu district of Giseyni.

-Brooke Kueser VanHecke, July 11, 2017


July 12

We were so excited to visit the Ndengera Vocational Center today. Around 80 students train in auto-mechanics and tailoring, and are exposed to much more business opportunity post-completion of their certificate. Basically - a teachers dream facility to visit.
-Brooke Kueser VanHecke, July 12, 2017


July 14

No idea where we would be without our fearless leader.

An impromptu invitation from a stranger brought us to a Giseyni community event hosted by the Future Vision Acrobat group. This group was founded in 2005 by Elisee Niyonsenga, a young boy living on the streets who found acrobatics and dance as a way to spread love, laughter, and passion to more vulnerable children in his community.

Dialogued with students studying in local Giseyni schools today. We had such meaningful and exciting conversations with the students, and loved visiting with the future leaders of Rwanda.

Visiting with high school students to talk about their hopes and dreams.

July 17

Taking inspiration from the Ubumwe Community Center today - this is the only center helping to shape the future of special education services in the Rubavu district of Rwanda. Started by two friends who saw that "disability does not mean inability", the center has grown to provide services for many individuals with mental and physical disabilities previously marginalized in their community. We were amazed at the work this facility and staff do for all learners, regardless of age and need. It was incredible to see how the conversations and attitudes toward inclusive education are making headway here in Rwanda.

July 18

         

Enjoyed learning more about two sub-topics regarding the genocide this week. Brett and Kristin A. discussed the impact surrounding words of inaction and action before, during, and after the genocide, while Maddie and Mackenzie informed us of women's roles throughout Rwandan history.

Visited Rwandan public school classrooms today. Teachers say that class sizes for high school students range from 40-60 students in rooms about this size. May or may not have asked the teachers to give us some serious classroom management tips. How amazing the education initiatives to provide public education for all Rwandan students.

July 19

We had a great time meeting with university students in Giseyni today. We chatted with Rwandan, Congolese, and Burundi students looking to create more jobs through entrepreneurship in their respective home countries, and we loved connecting with future economy leaders!

As the teachers become the students.......or should I say "wanafunzi". Swahili lessons left us all a little tired, a little overwhelmed, and a little smarter.

July 20

One thing we have learned in Rwanda is to always expect the unexpected. Some of my favorite memories in this country have stemmed from happenstance situations that we would not have been able to plan for. One such moment was having the opportunity to talk with individuals whose parents were involved in the 1994 genocide. We were able to hear the stories of those whose parents were killers and thieves, orchestrators and bystanders. This opportunity does not come to many, and it was incredible to hear the stories of forgiveness and unity these children of the genocide dedicate their lives to. This picture was taken a few days ago, but the meaning resonates today when reflecting on the amazing testimonies and stories we have heard throughout our trip thus far.

At the border of Rwanda and the DRC! This is one of the busiest borders in Rwanda, with almost 45,000 people traveling back and forth each day.

July 21

We learned all about the African New Life organization today, and visited some of the schools that are benefiting local Rwandan children through educational opportunities and leadership studies. These kids had some pretty solid handshakes and conversation starters.

   

When you travel to Africa only to be gently reminded by your very own textbooks that the school year is quickly approaching. 

July 22

I thought this simple sign pretty much summed up our agenda here in Rwanda. Sharing and exchanging knowledge about culture, history, educational models and hearing testimonies from all sorts of individuals. I have learned so much from these people. Their capacity to overcome such tragic events and turn to peace & reconciliation instead of revenge & retaliation has been incredible. Hearts are healing everyday. Rwandan teachers were anxious to meet with U.S. teachers to glean new information, but I would argue what we were able to share with them is minuscule compared to what they and their communities have taught us I love this country.

Today we visited the previous Rwandan president Habyarimana's mansion estate that has now been constructed as a public museum. This was the home that Habyarimana and his family lived in before his plane was shot down- the culminating event that insighted the genocide in 1994. Walking throughout the property, we were able to see the few bits of furniture and artwork not looted by thieves during the genocide, the beautiful landscaping that is still in tact, and quite interestingly according to our guide, remnants of his plane that happened to fall not 100 yards from his home.

July 23

A shout-out to Dr. Garber-Miller & Dr. Miller! We are blessed to learn from them each day...they are models of compassionate leadership.

We have been to many memorial sites for victims of the Rwandan genocide, but the memorial for 10 Belgium soldiers who lost their lives in the early days of the genocide was a stark reminder that the genocide was not simply an "African problem" as many countries saw it during its time span. Part of our experience and research has shown us how foreign aid and foreign recognition of the genocide was virtually non-existent, and this lack of response allowed more atrocities to be committed, and more lives to be lost or shattered. This memorial to Belgium soldiers was dedicated to not only the men that were killed by Hutu extremists, but also showed the impact of genocides throughout the world. This memorial spoke to the importance of eradicating hate and discrimination towards people simply because of their religion, race, ethnicity, or culture. One quote within the memorial states "It is a crime against humanity to be accused of being born." Some major lessons to take back to our own communities, schools, family, and friends when we return to the US in a few days.

July 24

Exploring the Ivuka and Inema art galleries in Kigali today was a perfect follow up after learning about art therapy and its influence in Rwanda. Special topic presented by our lovely art experts Kristin O. and Lauren B.

July 26

We successfully made it through our safari! The day was full of magical elephants, hilariously adorable warthogs, photogenic giraffes, black on white, or white on black zebras (debate still open), creepy crocodiles, hungry hungry hippos, troops of baboons, and countless other little animal friends. Akagera- you did not disappoint!

POST-TRIP

Meet the Avila Fulbright Scholars

Karen Garber-Miller

Project Director

Dr. Karen Garber-Miller serves as the Project Director for Avila’s Fulbright-Hays Rwanda Project.  She is the Dean in the School of Education at Avila University and a Professor of Education.  As well, she currently serves as the Chief Academic Officer for the Educate for Opportunity Institute, an organization that partners with marginalized and vulnerable people in their quest for education, freedom, empowerment and dignity.  She specializes in literacy, the language arts, international education, TESL/ESOL, and cross cultural studies.  Dr. Garber-Miller has taught or participated in international education and advocacy initiatives in Armenia, Botswana, China, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Haiti, Hungary, Mexico, Myanmar, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Thailand, Ukraine and Zambia.  Dr. Garber-Miller enjoys taking students into other areas of the world to engage in educational, social justice and advocacy work as part of academic courses and service learning outreach.  Dr. Garber-Miller holds a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the fields of language and literacy and leadership and policy studies as well as a Master’s in English & Education from Southern Nazarene University.  Dr. Garber-Miller presents for an array of professional organizations as well as consults and provides professional development for K-12 schools and districts. She serves on the national Network for Teacher Education Preparation, the Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Board, The Missouri Advisory Board for Educator Preparation, and the Missouri Council of Education Deans.  She advises teacher education and international advocacy students pursuing degrees at Avila University.

 

 

Cort Miller

Lead Scholar - Escort

Dr. Cort Miller serves as the Lead Scholar-Escort for Avila’s Fulbright-Hays Rwanda Project. Dr. Miller has worked in the humanitarian development field for more than 20 years and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for Educate for Opportunity Institute, an organization that partners with marginalized and vulnerable people in their quest for education, freedom, empowerment and dignity by mobilizing human, academic, intellectual and financial resources to meet the needs of the educationally disadvantaged and provides training, consultation and technical assistance in formal and informal educational initiatives around the world. In addition, Dr. Miller is the Senior Director of Development for NCM International, an internationally based disaster relief and sustainable development focused organization, an Adjunct Professor at Avila University and serves on the Board of Directors for Foods Resource Bank, a globally focused non-profit dedicated to reducing world hunger through sustainable agriculture for smallholder farmers.

Dr. Miller holds a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in the field of Human and Cultural Geography with a specialization in African Studies. His doctoral research, focused in Rwanda, investigated issues of landlessness, unemployment, vocational training and educational opportunities for marginalized women and youth of post-genocide Rwanda. He also holds Master’s Degrees in the related fields of Intercultural Studies, International Business & Marketing and Organizational Development. In addition, Dr. Miller holds a credential as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) with more than 20 years of experience in the area of funds development.

 

 

Kristin Anderson '97

Shawnee Mission East High School
English Teacher

Kristin Anderson grew up in Southern California and always had a passion for teaching.  After moving to Kansas City and attending Avila, she returned to California and taught for four years; however, cost of living led Kristin to the wise decision to return to Kansas.  She has been teaching at Shawnee Mission East for seventeen years, and she has loved (almost) all of it!  The first half of Kristin’s teaching career was spent as the sponsor of the Lancer Dancers, and the second half of her career has focused more on the academic side of teaching: Honors, AP, and IB. Overall, Kristin feels very fortunate to be able to teach students how to analyze literature, become better writers, and find pride in becoming life-long learners.

Brett Beneke '14

Raymore-Peculiar High School
English Teacher

Brett is an English teacher at Raymore-Peculiar High School. He graduated from KU with a degree in English Literature in 2009 and got his certification to teach from Avila University in 2014. Between those times he worked at a New Jersey summer camp for children with cancer, an experience that helped move him toward education. While the trip to Rwanda was his first time leaving the US, he enjoys traveling and has been to all but a handful of the states.

 

Allison Bertels

Bonner Springs High School
History, Geography & Government Teacher

Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas Allison's dream was always to be a teacher. She received her undergraduate degree in Secondary Education with a focus in Social Studies from Kansas State University. The first two years of her career she taught sixth grade World History at Arkansas City Middle School. A transition to high school took her to Bonner Springs, Kansas to teach United States History, World History, Government and Contemporary World Issues during her two years there. The summer of 2017 she moved to Brooklyn, NY and is currently teaching Global History at John Dewey High School. 

Lauren Bouas

Southeast High School Kansas City Public Schools
Social Studies, Political Science & Geography Teacher

Lauren is a high school social studies teacher working for nine years in the Kansas City Public School District and is currently teaching at Southeast High School in Kansas City, MO. Lauren is originally from St. Louis and graduated from the University of Richmond. She has M.Ed from Rockhurst University and a certificate in Gifted Education from UMKC. At Southeast, she sponsors Student Council and is the head coach of the Knights Volleyball team. Lauren’s interest in Rwanda began as a part of the African Centered College Prep Program at Southeast High School. The ACPrep program is the only one of its kind in Missouri or Kansas. Students in the program have the unique opportunity to participate in a range of academic and cultural experiences centered on African-American history and culture. Her sincere desire is to increase the quality and quantity of diverse perspectives in education.

 

Ellen Carmody '96

Notre Dame de Sion High School
Assistant High School Division Head of Curriculum & Instruction

Ellen has served the Notre Dame de Sion community in many capacities over the last 20 years, including classroom teacher, Director of Technology, and as a member of the Grade School administrative team. As the Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction, Ellen is excited to be working with the high school faculty to develop and support rigorous and innovative curricular goals based on essential questions and the school’s mission. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science  in Theology and Elementary Education and a Masters of Arts in Teaching and Learning, both from Avila University.  

 

Jamie Furnas

Heritage Middle School
Science Teacher

Jamie Furnas is a teacher at Heritage Middle School in the Liberty School District. Although her official title is "6th Grade Science Teacher,"  Jamie likes to explore and implement aspects of multiple content areas into her teaching practices. Jamie is a graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University where she double majored in Biology and Secondary Education. 

 

Kimberly Hillstock

Blue Valley Northwest High School
Literature, Composition, English Language Arts & Communication Teacher

Graduated with B.S. in Journalism from KU, 1986

Received Teaching License, Certified English 7-12; 2003.

Received Master’s Degree (MAED) from Baker University, 2006.

Teacher, Topeka Public Schools 2003 to 2014:  Robinson Middle School and Topeka High School; Department Chair, Language Arts 2008-2011 (RMS), Kagan District Cooperative Learning Coach 2011-2012; Yale Educator Award, 2013; AVID Teacher and Coordinator 2008-2013.

Adjunct Professor, Friends University, 2007-2011.  Comp I and Comp II.

Blue Valley Northwest High School, 2014 to present: AP Literature and Composition; Contemporary Communications.

 

Elise Keller

Guadalupe Centers Alta Vista Charter High School
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Teacher

Elise Keller is the head ELL teacher at Guadalupe Centers Alta Vista Charter High School in Kansas City, MO. She graduated from Truman State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Master of Arts in Education: Elementary and ELL education. She currently teaches English language and grammar to newcomer students as well as provides push in support for content classes. 

 

 

Madison Mueth

Avila University School of Education Teacher Candidate
Elementary Education and International Advocacy Teacher Candidate

Madison will be graduating from Avila University in December with a major in Elementary Education and a minor in International Advocacy. Her hometown is Simi Valley, California and moved to Kansas City, Missouri four years ago to attend college. Madison's hobbies include reading, watching movies, enjoying the outdoors (especially hiking), traveling, and hanging out with friends and family.

 

Kristin O'Halloran '17

Turner Middle School 
Art Teacher

Kristin O'Halloran is in her second year of teaching 7th and 8th grade Art at Turner Middle School in Kansas City, KS. She received her B.F.A. from the University of Kansas, focusing on digital illustration. After interning at Van Go Mobile Arts and working as a Special Education para-educator in the Blue Valley School District, she discovered her calling for education and started the Graduate Teacher Certification program at Avila University. Kristin completed her M.A. in Teaching and Learning in 2017, but is a life-long learner and is always looking towards the next educational experience. As an educator, she is passionate about arts-integration, community involvement, and relationship-building with students. Kristin belongs to the Kansas Art Educator's Association and is a founding member of the Spencer Museum of Art Coalition as well. She was Turner USD's secondary certified Kansas Horizon Award nominee. Currently, she is participating in a Leadership Academy course in Principalship. The Fulbright-Hays program sparked in Kristin a desire to provide students with a deeper knowledge of cultural art, empathy, and social justice.  

 

 

Mackenzie Pritchett

Avila University School of Education Teacher Candidate
Middle School Language Arts Teacher Candidate

Mackenzie's hometown is Nevada, Missouri. She is a teacher candidate, working to finish her degree in Middle School Language Arts and a minor in English. Her passions include service, education, travel and sports. The summer of 2016, she traveled to Costa Rica on a mission trip. It was there that she truly discovered her purpose in life; to help people and cultivate love wherever she is. Education provides her that opportunity each and every day. It is her hope that through teaching and coaching she can share her experiences with others and spark a flame in youth to explore the world. Her plan is to move back to Nevada, Missouri, to begin her teaching career.

 

Emilee Rose

Central Middle School Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools
English & Language Arts Teacher

Emilee has been teaching middle school and high school since 1984. When she is not teaching she has been a restaurant manager, entrepreneurship director at a not-for-profit, and a textbook sales representative for a major publishing company. She enjoys teaching the best! Emilee has an undergraduate degree in education and a Master's in English, with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition. She is  most grateful for the guidance of Dr. Karen Garber-Miller and Dr. Cort Miller as well as for the opportunity to travel and study in Rwanda with a fantastic team of fellow educators.

 

Brooke VanHecke

Basehor-Linwood Middle School
English Language Arts Teacher

Brooke VanHecke has taught English Language Arts for 6 years in the Basehor-Linwood school district. She is passionate about building empathy in her students, and felt fortunate to have the experience of traveling to Rwanda for both professional and personal reasons. Brooke is a graduate from Kansas State University, and is currently pursuing her master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. 

Kristen Anderson

Kristin Anderson '97

Shawnee Mission East High School
English Teacher

Kristin Anderson grew up in Southern California and always had a passion for teaching.  After moving to Kansas City and attending Avila, she returned to California and taught for four years; however, cost of living led Kristin to the wise decision to return to Kansas.  She has been teaching at Shawnee Mission East for seventeen years, and she has loved (almost) all of it!  The first half of Kristin’s teaching career was spent as the sponsor of the Lancer Dancers, and the second half of her career has focused more on the academic side of teaching: Honors, AP, and IB. Overall, Kristin feels very fortunate to be able to teach students how to analyze literature, become better writers, and find pride in becoming life-long learners.

Journal Entries

Poetry

Brett Beneke

Brett Beneke '14

Raymore-Peculiar High School
English Teacher

Brett is an English teacher at Raymore-Peculiar High School. He graduated from KU with a degree in English Literature in 2009 and got his certification to teach from Avila University in 2014. Between those times he worked at a New Jersey summer camp for children with cancer, an experience that helped move him toward education. While the trip to Rwanda was his first time leaving the US, he enjoys traveling and has been to all but a handful of the states.

Allison Bertels

Allison Bertels

Bonner Springs High School
History, Geography & Government Teacher

Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas Allison's dream was always to be a teacher. She received her undergraduate degree in Secondary Education with a focus in Social Studies from Kansas State University. The first two years of her career she taught sixth grade World History at Arkansas City Middle School. A transition to high school took her to Bonner Springs, Kansas to teach United States History, World History, Government and Contemporary World Issues during her two years there. The summer of 2017 she moved to Brooklyn, NY and is currently teaching Global History at John Dewey High School. 

Lauren Bouas

Lauren Bouas

Southeast High School Kansas City Public Schools
Social Studies, Political Science & Geography Teacher

Lauren is a high school social studies teacher working for nine years in the Kansas City Public School District and is currently teaching at Southeast High School in Kansas City, MO. Lauren is originally from St. Louis and graduated from the University of Richmond. She has M.Ed from Rockhurst University and a certificate in Gifted Education from UMKC. At Southeast, she sponsors Student Council and is the head coach of the Knights Volleyball team. Lauren’s interest in Rwanda began as a part of the African Centered College Prep Program at Southeast High School. The ACPrep program is the only one of its kind in Missouri or Kansas. Students in the program have the unique opportunity to participate in a range of academic and cultural experiences centered on African-American history and culture. Her sincere desire is to increase the quality and quantity of diverse perspectives in education.

Journal Entries

Poetry

Ellen Carmody

Ellen Carmody '96

Notre Dame de Sion High School
Assistant High School Division Head of Curriculum & Instruction

Ellen has served the Notre Dame de Sion community in many capacities over the last 20 years, including classroom teacher, Director of Technology, and as a member of the Grade School administrative team. As the Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction, Ellen is excited to be working with the high school faculty to develop and support rigorous and innovative curricular goals based on essential questions and the school’s mission. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science  in Theology and Elementary Education and a Masters of Arts in Teaching and Learning, both from Avila University.

How Do We Make “Never Again” a Reality?

Journal Entries

Jamie Furnas

Jamie Furnas

Heritage Middle School
Science Teacher

Jamie Furnas is a teacher at Heritage Middle School in the Liberty School District. Although her official title is "6th Grade Science Teacher,"  Jamie likes to explore and implement aspects of multiple content areas into her teaching practices. Jamie is a graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University where she double majored in Biology and Secondary Education. 

 

Journal Entries

Kimberly Hillstock

Kimberly Hillstock

Blue Valley Northwest High School
Literature, Composition, English Language Arts & Communication Teacher

Graduated with B.S. in Journalism from KU, 1986

Received Teaching License, Certified English 7-12; 2003.

Received Master’s Degree (MAED) from Baker University, 2006.

Teacher, Topeka Public Schools 2003 to 2014:  Robinson Middle School and Topeka High School; Department Chair, Language Arts 2008-2011 (RMS), Kagan District Cooperative Learning Coach 2011-2012; Yale Educator Award, 2013; AVID Teacher and Coordinator 2008-2013.

Adjunct Professor, Friends University, 2007-2011.  Comp I and Comp II.

Blue Valley Northwest High School, 2014 to present: AP Literature and Composition; Contemporary Communications.

 

Elise Keller

Elise Keller

Guadalupe Centers Alta Vista Charter High School
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Teacher

Elise Keller is the head ELL teacher at Guadalupe Centers Alta Vista Charter High School in Kansas City, MO. She graduated from Truman State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Master of Arts in Education: Elementary and ELL education. She currently teaches English language and grammar to newcomer students as well as provides push in support for content classes. 

 

 

Madison Mueth

Madison Mueth

Avila University School of Education Teacher Candidate
Elementary Education and International Advocacy Teacher Candidate

Madison will be graduating from Avila University in December with a major in Elementary Education and a minor in International Advocacy. Her hometown is Simi Valley, California and moved to Kansas City, Missouri four years ago to attend college. Madison's hobbies include reading, watching movies, enjoying the outdoors (especially hiking), traveling, and hanging out with friends and family.

 

Journal Entries

Kristin O'Halloran

Kristin O'Halloran '17

Turner Middle School 
Art Teacher

Kristin O'Halloran is in her second year of teaching 7th and 8th grade Art at Turner Middle School in Kansas City, KS. She received her B.F.A. from the University of Kansas, focusing on digital illustration. After interning at Van Go Mobile Arts and working as a Special Education para-educator in the Blue Valley School District, she discovered her calling for education and started the Graduate Teacher Certification program at Avila University. Kristin completed her M.A. in Teaching and Learning in 2017, but is a life-long learner and is always looking towards the next educational experience. As an educator, she is passionate about arts-integration, community involvement, and relationship-building with students. Kristin belongs to the Kansas Art Educator's Association and is a founding member of the Spencer Museum of Art Coalition as well. She was Turner USD's secondary certified Kansas Horizon Award nominee. Currently, she is participating in a Leadership Academy course in Principalship. The Fulbright-Hays program sparked in Kristin a desire to provide students with a deeper knowledge of cultural art, empathy, and social justice.  

 

 

Journal Entries

Mackenzie Pritchett

Mackenzie Pritchett

Avila University School of Education Teacher Candidate
Middle School Language Arts Teacher Candidate

Mackenzie's hometown is Nevada, Missouri. She is a teacher candidate, working to finish her degree in Middle School Language Arts and a minor in English. Her passions include service, education, travel and sports. The summer of 2016, she traveled to Costa Rica on a mission trip. It was there that she truly discovered her purpose in life; to help people and cultivate love wherever she is. Education provides her that opportunity each and every day. It is her hope that through teaching and coaching she can share her experiences with others and spark a flame in youth to explore the world. Her plan is to move back to Nevada, Missouri, to begin her teaching career.

 

Emilee Rose

Emilee Rose

Central Middle School Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools
English & Language Arts Teacher

Emilee has been teaching middle school and high school since 1984. When she is not teaching she has been a restaurant manager, entrepreneurship director at a not-for-profit, and a textbook sales representative for a major publishing company. She enjoys teaching the best! Emilee has an undergraduate degree in education and a Master's in English, with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition. She is  most grateful for the guidance of Dr. Karen Garber-Miller and Dr. Cort Miller as well as for the opportunity to travel and study in Rwanda with a fantastic team of fellow educators.

 

Brooke VanHecke

Brooke VanHecke

Basehor-Linwood Middle School
English Language Arts Teacher

Brooke VanHecke has taught English Language Arts for 6 years in the Basehor-Linwood school district. She is passionate about building empathy in her students, and felt fortunate to have the experience of traveling to Rwanda for both professional and personal reasons. Brooke is a graduate from Kansas State University, and is currently pursuing her master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. 

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