My interest in teaching started in high school where my awareness of the difference between good and great teachers peaked. I met two teachers who really embodied great teaching. These two teachers invested their time and whatever else it took to make sure I succeeded. Their expectations were high but they made me feel like we were in it together and that I could really do anything. They sparked my interest in teaching, leading me to pursue an undergraduate and graduate degree in Education. I started my teaching career in New York City public schools and also abroad at an American International School in the Dominican Republic. My love of teaching also brought me back to Sierra Leone In 2004.
I started out teaching and later moved into Educational administration in 2007, as Director of the American International School of Freetown. This laid the foundation for me to later open my own educational center (YAS Learning Center) in Freetown.
Many years later I still love teaching and learning. Nothing gets me more excited than seeing children excited about learning. There is really no other job I’d rather be doing.
What would you say are your most significant professional achievements?
Opening my own centre of learning for children had always been a dream of mine. This idea started as just an after school program and quickly evolved that first year to include an early education component which was really a gift to my young daughter. I wanted to give her the best start, so the opportunity to design and create an optimal space in Sierra Leone for her early childhood development was a blessing. I’ve been incredibly lucky.
Co-founding the Learning foundation in 2012, helping develop over 100 libraries in schools throughout Sierra Leone, has also been a proud achievement. We have given children more access to books and improved literacy. Also through a recent partnership with Schools For Salone, we have been able to launch reading clubs in the libraries we’ve developed, and to provide intensive on site teacher training in schools. The challenges for schools in Sierra Leone are many, so making the time to support teachers and improve learning for all children is close to my heart.
How does your work contribute to Sierra Leone’s economic development?
The long term benefit of what I do has an impact on Sierra Leone’s human resources, providing the foundation for a more educated and skilled workforce. We also employ several Sierra Leonean professionals providing jobs and on going training throughout the year.
Who has been your greatest mentor and what did they teach you?
My greatest mentor has been Jacqueline Leigh. She was director of the American International School of Freetown when I relocated to Sierra Leone in 2004. When I became the school director in 2007, she was a great source of support for my transition into administration. The greatest thing she taught me was to have a clear vision and to stay true to it no matter what. This has stayed with me as I’ve navigated my career through the years.
Nominate the HeForShe champion for change who you think has had the most impact to date in Sierra Leone.
I have been following the work of Chernor Bah- a Sierra Leonean gentleman who has been making some great strides and giving a voice to issues around the empowerment of women and girls. I have never met him but he has shown some very impressive commitment and dedication in this area so I’d like to nominate him.