East Point resident Emmalee Iden-Hackshaw has dedicated her life to education. Whether bringing opera to the Atlanta community through the Atlanta Opera’s community engagement programs, teaching music to elementary students, or training teachers in a country thousands of miles away, Emmalee strives to make this world a better place through ensuring everyone has access to education.
In 2002, Emmalee and her mother Beth journeyed to Liberia, West Africa to participate in a small humanitarian relief project. While there, they were shocked by the lack of access Liberian educators have to basic supplies and training. In a country that was rebounding from years of civil strife, education was a fundamental need in rebuilding the nation. Inspired by the dedication of the teachers and students to make education a priority, especially for orphans in the Monrovia area, Emmalee and Beth began talking to volunteers about how to help Liberian teachers get the resources they need in their classrooms. In a country where approximately 60% of the population is 24 years of age and under, 40% of Liberians cannot read or write, and resources are so scarce, many educators teach reading without access to books or instructional materials.
They founded the Liberia Orphan Education Project (LOEP), which became incorporated as a 501(c) 3 organization in the United States. Since that time, LOEP has focused on educational support by shipping books, school supplies, classroom instructional aids, and teaching materials used by hundreds of students and teachers a year. Utilizing volunteer training teams, LOEP has instituted teacher and peer training programs and created a highly successful “Mobile Classroom” that enables multiple teachers to easily share classroom instructional resources. With assistance from LOEP, the Mobile Classroom has been adapted by other relief efforts and is now being used in Haiti and other parts of the world.
Since 2008, The LOEP Teacher Training Team has traveled regularly to Liberia to work with teachers in orphan and mission schools. The Project has turned into a successful five-year professional development program of continuous training for more than 60 teachers.
LOEP has launched the “$35 Book Box” Campaign, an initiative to raise $6,600 to cover shipping costs to send a complete elementary school reading program with student texts, teachers editions and supplementary materials to Liberian classrooms. For each $35.00 donation, LOEP will send a box of reading textbooks and instructional materials directly to Liberia, where teachers struggle everyday to teach reading without books. Donations can be made by October 1, 2013 through Causes.com. To learn more about this initiative, and stories about children and teachers impacted, please visit loeproject.org.