Walking down the upper school corridor at the Kibera School for Girls (KSG), it’s hard to pass third grade teacher Dorothy Okwang without becoming invigorated. Her enthusiasm and warmth is exuded not only by her brightly colored clothes and jewelry—but also her smile and exuberance of spirit. Dorothy greets everyone with a high five and a huge smile, and it’s easy to see why her students are so enamored with her.
Dorothy joined the KSG staff in 2011, immediately after receiving her certificate in education from a local Nairobi college. She joined the third grade class as its Assistant Teacher, and after one year was promoted to Head Teacher. She loves our students, and especially enjoys teaching creative arts and math. “The girls have passion for learning and are very disciplined and active in all subjects,” explains Dorothy.
The difficult home lives of our students bring many challenges to the classroom—challenges to which Dorothy brings her nurturing empathy and dynamic teaching style. “In the morning, sometimes students haven’t had breakfast before they arrive, so they are moody or maybe they were quarreled by their parents so they come into class and they’re upset. They want to be alone; they don’t want to talk to anyone. You have to come in the morning and try to psyche them up, through energizing movement and exciting lessons, so that they can catch up with the rest of the class and environment.”
Dorothy’s enthusiasm cannot be stopped, even by her long commute, which necessitates she leaves her house by 5:30 every morning. “The girls are the ones who give me the energy. I can’t imagine going to a school where the students aren’t captivated. It’s such a hard time. But here at the Kibera School for Girls, when you think about the girls, taking a day off is hard to enjoy.” Dorothy says that even on Saturdays she worries about the girls and anxiously waits for Monday’s school day to come when she can see them again.
The school’s curriculum and energy makes it so unique, Dorothy says. “Students are taught in diverse subjects, and we involve students so actively in the lessons so that the students are able to learn through their own exploration and excitement. It’s not for the teacher to make them learn but for them to learn themselves.”
Dorothy’s contagious smile lights up every room at KSG, and we are so thrilled to have her on staff!