Meet Rashenah Walker, our new KDSL Global Manager of Learning. In this role Walker will manage projects in our professional learning portfolio for the MENA region.
Rashenah Walker is an international curriculum specialist and educational trainer. She holds a Master’s degree in Education majoring in Instructional Technology and is a dual major Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership and Curriculum Design. Rashenah began her career in the United States as special education and Advanced Placement teacher. Since then, she has worked in the areas of curriculum design, educational administration, organizational needs analysis, and teacher development. As an independent contractor, Rashenah has completed professional development training for TESOL, College Board, Edmodo, and KDSL Global making significant contributions to educational organizations within the U.S. and internationally. Currently, she is serving on the TESOL Professional Standards Council, has appeared as a guest on the radio show Myk12career.com, in addition to winning multiple Global Education Supplies and Solutions (GESS) awards for her research on using Edmodo in schools.
KDSL Global recently had an opportunity to connect with Saki Milton, Founder of The GEMS Camp. The GEMS Camp, launched in summer 2010 as a free 6-week Saturday camp, preparing urban girls in grades 7 through 9 to be well-rounded, confident, and ready for college and beyond. Since its inception, The GEMS Camp has been instrumental in inspiring more than 200 girls in STEM studies and is hosted annually at The University of North Texas at Dallas.
What was your inspiration to work in STEM?
As a secondary mathematics classroom teacher, every year I saw 1-2 kids in each class who actually wanted to learn. They were focused, studious, hard-working, and hungry for a challenge. Unfortunately, with the challenges many teachers like myself face in an urban classroom, those students are typically the ones who end up getting shafted. Large classroom sizes, disrespect, and lack of resources are issues an urban teacher faces on a daily basis. I know I did. My heart broke every time I saw a girl who reminded me of myself as a student, but wasn’t getting the quality education that every child should receive because I was too busy dealing with classroom management or catching up those who were 1-2 grade levels behind. Going home every night knowing that I wanted to do more led me to action.
In 2010, I was teaching at an IB school. I was so moved by my students’ personal projects that I decided to explore my own summer project to give back to those students in my neighborhood. That’s when I started The GEMS Camp. I started The GEMS Camp for the girls who are ridiculed for being smart. Girls who do everything they’re supposed to do, but have to stay in their environments just because they don’t have anywhere else to go. I wanted to give them what was given to me – a quality learning experience that made me curious about the world and compassionate about others in a safe environment. Over the years, my interest in STEM has grown as demands for the workforce have changed. I’ve realized the significance of preparing students for jobs of the future, especially problems facing the environment or those with disabilities.
I believe that the shortages in STEM fields can be filled by preparing more women, which currently account for about 13% of the U.S. STEM workforce. To do so, we need to prepare girls with knowledge and skills but also equip them with confidence to be successful in such fields. My involvement in the community led me to combine my background, experience and passion into forming a nonprofit organization. I encourage teachers to find ways to explore their talents and interests beyond the bell.
Tell us about the GEMS Camp
The mission of The GEMS Camp (Girls interested in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science) is to build confidence in urban teen girls in grades 7-12 through five core areas called the 5 Karat Gems – Academics, Career, Creativity, Leadership, and Service– so that they will be successful in STEM studies and careers. The Organization’s vision is to change the trajectory of generational poverty for underrepresented girls’ families.
We teach girls how to be CREATIVE thinkers and communicators – a valuable life skill to help them break away from the pack. They learn LEADERSHIP strategies through a one-of-a-kind, research-based curriculum addressing specific needs of urban girls. Third, girls participate in SERVICE to help them internalize the value of giving back to a greater cause. The camp also prepares girls through ACADEMICS by using rigorous and engaging lessons and experiments led by highly qualified instructors. And finally, The GEMS Camp addresses CAREER opportunities to its participants by inviting local, successful STEM women to speak about their professions and personal backgrounds.
The program started in 2010 as a Saturday day camp servicing 30 rising 7th-9th-grade girls held at a public library in Dallas, Texas. Since 2017, the model has evolved to a one-week residential Summer Experience program held at the University of North Texas at Dallas. The program concludes with a Graduation Ceremony and Community Exhibition, recognizing girls for completion and achievements throughout the program. The GEMS Camp continues to gain momentum reaching more students while maintaining authenticity to its mission. To date, we have served roughly 400 girls, exposing them to more than 30 North Texas female STEM professionals representing major corporations and organizations such as IBM, Atmos Energy, Frito Lay/Pepsico, Mary Kay, Inc., Hilti, Texas Instruments, HKS Architects and more.
One of our greatest accomplishments is the expansion of our mission to include helping girls build global STEM networks through travel. In June 2018, eight high school girls traveled to Italy (Naples, Rome, and Florence) to explore the “M” in STEM, studying geometric concepts of ancient and modern architecture, technology, and engineering. June 5-15, 2019, ten girls will have the opportunity to participate in a culture exchange in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) with local female STEM girls, while the Dallas camp will be held, June 21-28, 2019.
What do you see as the future of STEM?
To address the whole child, The GEMS Camp program design is rooted in the latest STEM education research, primarily STEM Learning Ecosystems (SLE’s)and incorporates best practices for bringing minority and low-income girls into the STEM career pipeline. In the future, I foresee STEM education headed more down this path based on reports I’ve read. The phrase STEM learning ecosystem has emerged from early works of human development research. SLE models include children at the center influenced directly by other people (e.g., family, friends) and settings (e.g., schools, neighborhoods) and indirectly by their environment and culture. Students shape and influence their environment and narrative via connections with other learners, community representatives, and the broader scope of world culture. I believe more funding will shift towards collaborative partnerships that are operating with this model. The emergence of newer adaptations of STEM –STEAM and STREAM will continue to take place.
However, long-term sustainability of such concepts are dependent upon the global job market. All of the data still point to science, technology, engineering and math-based positions; not the arts – though I am a firm believer and supporter of the arts. Until we see extreme shortages and disparities in the arts, as it pertains to STEM, I am not fully convinced yet that STEM is on its way out nor STEAM has enough critical mass to sustain its current popularity. But, I could be wrong; I hope it is not a fad.
Unlike the early days of STEM where emphasis was on engineering and computer science, I do believe greater increase in the sciences –biology, environment, and chemistry — will experience tremendous growth as human impact, biological warfare, and medical care are becoming macro-economic issues for both government and private sector.
To learn more about The GEMS Camp visit:
Saki Milton is an experienced mathematics educator with more than 20 years in the education industry including adult learning, curriculum writing, coaching, market development, consulting, and most importantly eight years of classroom teaching. Passionate about STEM education, Saki is known for her extensive work in the U.S. by founding The GEMS Camp (Girls interested in Engineering, Mathematics and Science), a non-profit organization whose mission is to build confidence in girls in grades 7-10 in five core areas called the 5 Karat Gems – Academics, Career, Creativity, Leadership, and Service – so that they will be successful in STEM studies and beyond. The organization has served more than 350 girls across Texas since 2010, partnering with major STEM employers such as BP Oil, Pepsico-FritoLay, HESS Corporation, and NASA to name a few. Saki has worked for Pearson Education Middle East as the U.S. Schools Curriculum Manager, delivering educator support to American international schools across the gulf region. Today, she is an independent international educational consultant working on worthwhile edTech and publishing projects globally. Saki holds a B.A. in mathematics from The University of Texas at Austin and an M.B.A. in marketing from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
KDSL Global recently had an opportunity to connect with literacy leader Jacob Sule. Jacob is the founder of iRead To Live Initiative, a non-profit organization that focuses on achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals of Quality Education in Nigeria. He was recently named one of 30 literacy leaders named to the International Literacy Association’s (ILA) 2019 30 Under 30 list.
Tell us about the iRead To Live Initiative, why it’s important, and some of the accomplishments of the non-profit.
We are a team dedicated to serving the course of humanity by giving back to the society by promoting and enlightening the community on the importance of education, supplementing government efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Quality Education in Nigeria, and inspiring students to imbibe a reading culture.
As a Non Governmental Organization, we are focusing on advocating for quality education and improved learning conditions in both government and private owned schools. This is in accordance of the Vision 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As a team, we also share the same philosophy that education is a tool with which one can change the world for the best.
WHAT WE DO
We are currently working in Ifetedo community, Ife South Local Government, Osun State Nigeria with the management and teachers of public cchools, by volunteering to teach different topics and subjects in various schools, providing students with textbooks, exercise books, writing materials and other educational materials to aid the learning process.
In promoting and enlightening the community on the importance of Education, we adopted the Parent Teacher Association meeting strategies, where parents, teachers and notable stakeholders hold meetings often times to discuss and sensitize parents and guardians on the need to enroll their children and wards in school(s) rather than using them as laborers on their farmlands knowing fully that farming is predominant in the community.
Promoting and advocating for quality and equitable education for all, connecting rural areas by organising academic and extracurricular events.
To supplement government efforts in achieving the sustainable development goals of quality education in Nigeria.
We have a desire to reach out to the Nigerian and African child that deserves quality education and self-empowerment; as well as mental alacrity but with less or no capacity to attain the feat.
As young people who are tired of continued neglect of children in rural communities, we decided to ensure that every child, regardless of their backgrounds, in Nigeria must continue to have unhindered access to quality and equitable education. As a non-profit organization, we have consistently engaged government to ensure that it does not neglect its responsibility of providing quality education to all Nigerians.
Though as a relatively young organization, we have been able to accomplish the following:
- Launch of iRead To Live Maiden Quiz Competition for Schools
- Establishment of Reading Clubs in some schools
- Purchase and donation of writing materials, textbooks and other educational materials
- Donation of a wheelchair to a physically challenged Undergraduate Student
- We hosted the Maiden Edcamp in Nigeria, 2018
- Successfully hosted several oratory and literacy competitions in 2016-2018.
The International Literacy Association (ILA) named you one of the 30 under 30 for 2019. What does it mean to be a champion of literacy?
The ILA celebrates rising innovators, disruptors and visionaries in the literacy field. As a literacy champion you must have shown commitment and continued passion and be involved in innovative ideas and adventures towards strengthening of literacy in your immediate community. For me, having been named alongside 29 other leaders globally, I have been involved in grassroots literacy campaigns by engaging students in rural communities in Nigeria, creating reading clubs, hosted oratory and literacy competitions.
Last year you were the founder of Edcamp Nigeria as a way to empower and ignite teachers in the country. What are your major goals for 2019?
My overall goal for 2019 is to scale up advocacy for literacy, ensure improved access to quality education, and professional development for teachers in Nigeria by embracing 21st century teaching approaches.
Also, I will be working with some other educators globally and within Nigeria for possible collaboration and getting students, teachers, and communities to take more actions in the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by offering solutions to societal challenges.
This is in furtherance to the proposed launch of a makerspace in Nigeria. The makerspace will be incorporated alongside anAdopt a School Program and built around the SDGs indicators and targets, so that teachers and students can be fully exposed to the SDGs targets.
The Adopt a School Program – I intend to adopt four schools through iRead To Live Initiative. We will deploy educational resources, train teachers, donate writing materials and take more actions on sanitation and hygiene.
To learn more about Jacob’s work visit:
About Jacob Sule
Jacob is the founder of iRead To Live Initiative, a non-profit organization that focuses on achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals of Quality Education in Nigeria. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and is nearing completion of his study of Law.
As a leader of Inspire Citizens in Africa, Jacob has consistently advocated for the delivery of SDG 4: Quality Education for every child, launching schools literacy clubs and campaigns, while supporting teacher training and professional learning opportunities in rural areas of Nigeria.
His goal remains empowering all students, teachers, and community members to become educated, impactful, and sustainable thinkers. Jacob is also a featured guest in the Inspire Citizens Activist in ResidenceProgram.
He joined the TEACHSDGs in 2018 as an Ambassador in Teaching the SDGs targets in Schools particularly in rural communities. His continued passion for education in Nigeria made him to host the Maiden Edcamp in Nigeria on December 15th, 2018, a participant-driven session for educators in Osun state, Nigeria for professional development and empowerment.
Jacob’s several literacy advocacies, projects, and campaigns in 2018 earned him the Global recognition as a Literacy Champion alongside 29 other leaders globally.
DUBAI, UAE, 28 January 2019 – KDSL Global today released a paper which examines the implementation of the National Core Arts Standards in the USA and in the MENA region. Published in 2014 as a result of a three-year nationwide collaborative effort, the goal of these standards is to assist teachers in developing PreK-12 curriculum that guides the enhancement of artistic literacy among learners. KDSL Global is a USA and UAE-based leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education businesses globally.
Lana Hallmark, arts consultant and paper author stated, “The opportunity to participate in telling the story of the National Core Arts Standards came at a timely moment for me. As I look ahead to the revision of the fine arts academic standards in Arkansas in the coming summer, having this fresh review of the background and goals of the NCAS will be invaluable and will certainly impact this important work for the students in my state.” She co-wrote the paper with Kevin Simpson (KDSL Global Managing Director) and Joyce Huser (the President of the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education). Huser said, “The 2014 National Core Art Standards (NCAS) for the fine arts have provided a rich and in-depth guide for meeting the learning needs of students at the PreK – 12th grade levels in my state of Kansas as well as in many other states across the nation. They have also provided a resource for preparing pre-service teachers and guiding experienced educators in developing and providing a holistic arts education. With an emphasis on process-based learning, these standards have had a great impact on enhancing learning and applying real life application to learning. Students love this. While it is a challenge for teachers to transition from the old to the new standards, the professional development that has been provided across the nation has been invaluable in meeting the goals and intentions of these standards. I am pleased to have been a part of the writing process and continue to provide quality professional development in helping teachers understand these standards and how to implement them in their instruction.”
The paper features a list of arts resources, case studies, and results from surveys that would provide data regarding the implementation process in the USA. Questions educators and leaders responded to ranged from impression of the standards, timeline, professional development, and more.
The paper can be downloaded at: http://kdslglobal.com/Arts%20in%20MENA%20American%20Curriculum%20Schools.pdf
Join us on 10 October from 6:00-6:30pm UAE time for a free webinar to learn more about the MENALearns Portal. To stay up to date email firstname.lastname@example.org.
During 2018 the MENALearns Portal will be a new resource for educators at American curriculum schools. Our KDSL Global intern had a chance to chat with the team this past summer about what the portal is, how it is different and future plans.
What is MENALearns?
MENALearns will be an online portal for educators at American curriculum schools based in the Middle East and North Africa region. This is a collaborative effort with Xblended and KDSL Global. It is for educators with resources reviewed, created, and shared by educators. Tools and resources will be related to curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional learning, and more. Six educators from six countries reviewed the initial portal and provided feedback to the team. We call this group our first educators. During the summer of 2018 we collaborated with an educator from the region who served during the month of July with the purpose of reviewing and selecting additional resources for K-12 educators on a wide range of topics. The site will launch later in September 2018. A free introductory webinar will be held on 1 October at 6pm Dubai time. Users will have the option to become a member of the community as a MENALearns Teacher, MENALearns Leader, or a MENALearns School. Special rates for new members will run from October- December 2018.
There are many online platforms and resources nowadays. How is MENALearns different from these?
This is very true! We wanted to craft a resource that was specific to educators who are based in the MENA region. Often there are resources from the states with references and images that students and educators may not be able to connect with. Educators who we spoke to openly shared this information. We wanted to have a blended approach with materials from the states along with resources provided from educators in the region. This will grow over time as we encourage educators and leaders to share resources from their schools and classrooms. Also, we asked American curriculum educators in the region where they go to online to access resources to use in planning. A plethora of websites was listed. We then asked what if there was one place where they could access most of the sites they used. All were interested and first users talked about how organized, comprehensive, and easy to navigate the portal was.
What are the future plans for this portal?
We will see what the future holds. As we receive feedback we will make changes and update information as there is always something new to learn. Our short-term plans is to make as many American curriculum schools and educators aware of the portal as possible in the MENA region. In the future we hope all will be a MENALearns School.
To stay updated on MENALearns email email@example.com. The portal will launch later in September 2018.
KDSL Global Intern
Facebook: @KDSL Global
KDSL Global is pleased to announce our new fellow. The fellowship focuses on writing, leadership and launching a new education idea.
Samantha Rodriguez was born and raised in Long Island, New York and graduated from Providence College where she studied Public and Community Service and Political Science. Being the first in her family to graduate from college, the value of education was constantly emphasized. Samantha has spent the better part of her life working with youth in different contexts. Since graduating from Providence, Samantha has taught Math in Tsakane, South Africa, was a 9th Grade English Teacher in the South Bronx, has been a College Access Counselor, and is now a Service Learning Program Coordinator for buildOn in Chicago, Illinois. She simultaneously attends graduate school at the University of Illinois at Chicago working towards an MEd in Youth Development. Samantha has always believed that all students are worthy of a strong educational foundation as well as a strong support system that helps them become successful. With her MEd in Youth Development, it is Samantha’s goal to help create spaces that intentionally provide youth with opportunities to develop their interests, skills, and abilities.
ABOUT KDSL Global
KDSL Global is a USA and UAE-based leading learning organization focused on empowering educators and education businesses globally. To find out more information visit http://www.kdslglobal.com.