Teachers teaching teachers

We’re all learners, even though of us who are teachers. A great way that a teacher can learn is by visiting schools in other countries and watching their educators teach.

This open attitude to two-way discovery and learning is the foundation for a thriving partnership between St John’s Lutheran School, Highgate, and the schools in the Siassi Islands of Papua New Guinea. They’ve been sharing experiences, skills, faith, hope and love for over four years now.

They’ve made four exchange trips already, but that’s more easily said than done. Reaching the Siassi Islands (or leaving them) is not for the faint-hearted or for those in a hurry. It involves a long, rough and sometimes risky boat ride, which just goes to show the powerful commitment of everybody involved.

In May this year, four Siassi teachers spent eight days in the St John’s Lutheran community, hosted by school families, engaging in all aspects of school and church life.

Nancy Wells, a teacher at St. John’s, says, ‘Our visitors arrived with open hearts and minds, eager to share, learn and cultivate relationships with us. These relationships lie at the heart of our partnership, and the connections that were made will hold us in good stead in the future.’

The teachers are planning for a St John’s team to travel to Siassi next year to provide another round of in-service training.

‘We will continue to seek God’s guidance as we journey with the people of Siassi’, says Nancy, ‘and we praise him for the many blessings this partnership brings to us all’.

Colin Hayter, a volunteer program assistant for PNG, says the partnership is creating a climate for preserving dignity and maintaining ownership of professional development.

‘It’s inspiring’, he says. ‘The Siassi teachers are gaining a vision for school improvement and strengthened peer support, while instilling pride in the schools across their whole district.’

As well as developing relationships between the teachers, the partnership is also developing and broadening cultural understanding between school and church communities in both countries.

‘This is a gospel partnership’, Colin says. ‘People share their faith and worship together. Hope is renewed and strengthened, and relationships grow and deepen in Christian love.’

This story was also published in the August 2014 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

If your school would like to know how they can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission service-learning partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email erin.kerber@lca.org.au. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/service-learning/

Read more stories about school partnerships and school service-learning at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/local-partners/schools/