Evolving and Devolving

February 8, 2014

The Education and Economies’ of North and South Americas’ Growing Likenesses 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        by Kelly J. Dwyer


Years ago when I first began teaching in Peru, I vividly remember the culture shock of returning stateside that year.  A small nearby town was celebrating the opening of their very own private prison. I couldn’t believe their glee. Did they not care about the disproportionate and rising prison population? I concluded that prisons would become their own mini-military industrial complex.  Once these private prisons were filled, they would become an economy dependent on the poorly educated and poor to exist.

The other issue that struck me with major concern is the growing momentum of vouchers and charter schools as a “fix” to education.  I knew immediately that it would lead to the same economic/educational structure that existed in Peru and other Latin American countries. Public  schools were for the poorest of the poor and anyone who had any avail of funds, sent their children to private schools. (Albeit not always the best in quality either).

I predicted that charter schools and vouchers would leave the majority of  the behavioral problems for the public schools.  Students who didn’t have an opportunity of choice of other schools (due to their socioeconomic status) would be denied a quality education just because they could not attend another school.  This has become the reality. And many of the children who attend these urban public schools will be the future prison populations.  

The Answer to Tomorrows Education Problem

The Future of Today’s Education Problem

In light of the New York Times article on the eroding middle class over the past weekend and folks like Senator Elizabeth Warren singing out warnings for years, I see that it has all come to pass and full circle.  The Daily Kos’ contributor Tom P contributed link and comment to both the NYTimes article and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s words. However, Richard Lyon’s comments on the blog were those that brought me back to that recollection of my certainty of where we were headed.

 This kind of bi-modal economy could perhaps be sustained if they can keep the revolution from erupting. It likely would look something like the historical configuration of most Latin American economies.

I think that a lot of the problem is that the American middle class has allowed itself to be deluded into believing that it is not an endangered species … which it clearly is.  IMG_3987_B

I struggle with the efforts to help Peru’s education system while I watch the decline from much of what the U.S. system once was. I rest assured that TeachaTeacher provides a rich experience for the Volunteer as well as helping correct a disparity.

It is certainly my desire that TeachaTeacher helps both Peruvians as well as our Volunteers with a perspective of knowing education for all, creates a far more stable economic situation and even better, doesn’t exclude the future world problem solvers, because we are going to need them! There is hope for both, we must believe.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” 

Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills  to Teachers in some of the poorest areas in Peru.   Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.

Kelly J. Dwyer is Executive Director of Teach a Teacher Nonprofit.  A native of Montana. She has been an educator in the U.S. and internationally.   We live and focus most of our work in the Ancash region of Peru.

* Some images were acquired from Google Images  Thank you Google Images!

                                                                                                                             By Kelly Dwyer

Total Class

                      Data, data, data…NOT

From perusing this new found world of kindred spirits and fellow anti-corporate educational reform bloggers and readers, I discovered the notorious, Michelle Rhee, was a rookie contemporary of mine.  Those few and only years of teaching she did in Baltimore achieving miraculous, albeit fictitious test score gains, places her second year at the same time as my first year of teaching in DC public schools.

In part two I reflected on my first year teaching in DCPS (1993-94).  My true success in those novice years came in the next two years whereupon my principal supported my desire to stay with the same group of kids for two years (looping).

Besides gaining their trust, which began about April of the first year, we began our 2 years with a goal to go to Montana, my home state.  In those two years we raised money enough to pay for just about every part of that trip.

In the meantime, I had a supportive and enthusiastic principal who advocated using DC as the classroom. So much of what we studied, was followed with a meaningful field trip to enhance our studies.


In the culminating days as a two-year class, my students went to Montana by train. They kept journals on the land forms and states, towns and cities as we passed by. They went up in the highest building in the U.S. and picnicked by Lake Michigan between train changes.  They rode horse-back up the Rocky Mountain Front.

Ride of they lives

They lay on pelts as they listened to a true mountain man and Lewis and Clark expert, in an outdoor classroom shared by students from the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation.

Mountain Man

An individual from the State Human Rights Office (brown skinned himself) drove ninety miles to share his stories and slides about African American families who settled the west and particularly Montana.

experience 001

Some of the students floated the Missouri River, others visited old forts, they climbed up to waterfalls, they got back on the horse they fell off and a few went fishing for the first time. One student in particular caught his first fish!

Pen Pals

Michelle Rhee contended in her resume and appeal for the DC Chancellor position that she and her Baltimore teaching stint were featured in admiring profiles on TV’s Good Morning America – The Home Show, as well as in print in The Wall Street Journal and The Hartford Courant.  G.F. Brandenburg, sheds some light on the real story of the admiring profiles  as being either outright lies or grave exaggerations of the mention of her and her class.

Arrival 002

This rings with irony for me, as around that time, reporting on education wasn’t nearly as popular as it is today. When the trip to Montana became a reality, my principal called The Washington Post to share what a wonderful thing one of her teachers was doing. The reply from the sardonic reporter she talked with was, “Did anyone die?” The Great Falls Tribune did however cover our visit with 4 articles and a column that still makes me teary when I read it.  The column was written by my father who was retired from the newspaper at that time.

column better

Oh, and by the way, I have the data. Although I would love to have the stats from their first year with me, I do have the CTBS data (standardized test of the time and the same of which Rhee’s students took).  The scores in the included graphs are from the beginning of their second year to the end of their second year with me as their teacher. Although at the time I was just pleased to have that as one more marker of their growth, I would have thought it absurd that one day those results would be the greatest marker of my success.

Ironically, I am certain this is what secured my rehiring by DC schools. Even more ironically in those four years I felt stifled and unable to utilize my rich knowledge and teaching skills with regularity. Not to mention, feeling devalued as one of those older, not-to-be-trusted, perhaps even bad teachers that must be replaced in order to reform education.

Math Ind Ind Lang

However, game on Michelle!  I would say this one year shines in comparison to what Brandenburg was able to recoup as evidence of your gains.

No professional would claim to have brought 90 percent of their students from below the 20 percentile to above the 90th percentile, but given the results I am curious to see how they did the year previously.

I don’t mention or show these scores to brag or even give them anywhere near the credence a “reformer,” would.  I show them because there was no teaching to the test, no test prep, no exact formula teaching that fits inside the rubric of the new teacher evaluations but there was trust by my superior in my abilities as a professional.

Individual Total Change

  Some of my students had losses (according to the test), some had terrific gains, there were chronic absences or other obstacles and problems. Yes, there were and are problems that a teacher could not and cannot fix!

Of course I continued to acquire skills and knowledge, through varied professional development opportunities and my own studies. I know that good professional development helps tremendously. That is why we are doing what we are doing here in Peru.

No telling how well my students would have done with that greater experience.  But there is really only so much a generic test can tell.

It is merely entertaining to go back and look at these scores in light of the last 4 years under the testing crazed Michelle Rhee regime.  Under that regime, I was ranked Effective for the first two years and apparently Developing this final year, which, despite constant changes in roles and expectations and plans, the last was actually my most effective year of the past four.  Every year the evaluation process was rife with discrepancies and inconsistencies.

I have caught up with students of that looped class and most seem to be well adjusted adults.  I’d like to think I had a small part in their successes… and more importantly in how they deal with their challenges.

going home bigger

Education is not the filling of a pail,

but the lighting of a fire.
William Butler Yeats 

Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills  to Teachers in some of the poorest areas in Peru.   Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.

Kelly J. Dwyer is Executive Director of Teach a Teacher Nonprofit.  A native of Montana. She has been an educator in the U.S. and internationally.   We live and focus most of our work in the Ancash region of Peru.

Teach a Teacher Nonprofit:

So inspiring, so correct:

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Some months ago, I added Steve Nelson to the honor roll of this blog because everything I read by this remarkable man made so much sense. He is the headmaster of the Calhoun School, a fine New York City private school.

Yet he isn’t looking out for the self-interest of the private schools and their pupils, but for the good of American children and our society.

In this article, Nelson surveys the media moaning over PISA scores and says that the critics have chosen the wrong target.

Our schools are not broken, he writes.

Our society is.

Here is a sample of his thinking, which I share and admire:

We don’t have an education problem in America. We have a social disease. It is as though we are starving our children to death and trying to fix it by investing in more scales so we can weigh them constantly.


View original 428 more words

Teaching… no more Part II

October 18, 2013

                                                                                                                                                                                By Kelly Dwyer

I realize I am a tad bit late to the table  for participating in the Michelle Rhee debate, but that is because I was actually working under her dominion in DC.  While she had time for increasing her public image, I had no time nor energy for blogging, reading or being the life-long learner I had always hoped I was inspiring my students to be.  I was hardly learning anything excepting the harsh realities of the change in a system, ultimately limiting my ability to work effectively with a student population which had changed drastically in the years I had been abroad.

Perusing the exquisite chronicle of Michelle Rhee by Mercedes Schneider, I realized the quintessential TFA legacy herself, was a contemporary of mine.  Michelle Rhee was doing her first years, or I mean her only years of teaching in the same years I entered the profession in Washington D.C.

I went back to school for teaching credentials in my late twenties and felt like many of the original TFA recruits, “I was needed and could make a difference.”

When she was supposedly doing all the miraculous things with her student’s: their test scores, taping their mouths closed and forgetting emergency contact information for her students; I was also a beginning classroom teacher in the next city to the south.  Ironically, I most recently received a score of developing, by the very system of teacher evaluation Rhee put in motion. (I’ll save that for another post!)

My first year teaching was not my best and this is to be expected. However, as the only white female teacher in my school, I was determined to prove I could do well by my students.  After having been purposely given ALL of the most difficult students in the fourth grade, they soon became known for their respect and quietness when passing in the hallways (without tape on their mouths) and took several trips around DC on the public buses without incident.

In the woods

A trip to Audobon’s Woodend was a turning point.  At that time, securing a school bus or federally funded bus to take students anywhere was nearly impossible.  In order to get to Woodend, less than 5 miles from the school,  public transport provided options that took over 2 hours in travel time!  However, I discovered if we walked 5 blocks to the Georgia Avenue bus, we would only have to make one transfer and walk through Rock Creek Park to get there. woodendThe trek, through the woods to get to Woodend turned out to be the best possible complement to the activities at Woodend.  Screams of excitement over their discoveries mingled with the birds and rushing water sounds.  All were trying to compete with one another for what they had discovered and what they were observing.

A couple of them found a tree gnawed away by beavers.  We all stopped.

“What do you think happened here?” I asked.  Eventually they arrived at the answer themselves.

 The discovery for me was what they needed most, the closeness of nature, the opportunity to wonder and question, and more opportunities to run through the trees.

on a rock 001

Now our resourceful teacher hands are tied. My teaching partner from this past year commented, “They think they have it down to a science and can account for what a teacher’s performance is only in data and charts.  They have forgotten about the Art of Teaching.”

In one school I taught since the reforms, we were expected to teach entirely in test prep mode from beginning of year. This was criminal to the point of bumping lower achieving kids from support programs because they were not on the cusp of making the school’s test scores look better. The cluster chair (the overseer of several schools in an area) literally banned field trips until the test scores rose. This is in DC, the home of the world-renowned Smithsonian! While students come to DC from all over the U.S., students of DCPS are staying in their 5 block radius, searching for reasons to learn and pass a test.

Peru, on the other hand, is a mixed bag of perplexing ironies.  There are aged people with plant knowledge that is unsurpassed by university Biology graduates, yet failing to have value to most or be passed down to younger generations.

We live in a virtual paradise. However mining, growing at leaps and bounds, offers many locals the only employment for economic gain.  Huascaran National Park, just a stone’s throw away, is overrun with cattle herds, throwing the delicate ecosystem (where wildlife is exiguous) in a strikingly imbalanced state.  And countless mining petitions are threatening it’s borders.

 Children I have conversations with, are unaware of the animals that are dangerous or not and so the entire population learns, “kill it if it crawls,” mentality. The lack of humanity towards the even domesticated animals leaves my heart heavy.

The educational system, until recently has been militaristic in a sense of the teacher dictates, the students listen, write, memorize and respond without question. This creates citizens who question very little and accept the status quo.

However, with an emerging economy, the country’s top officials are realizing the need for an educated populous.  How one begins that, is of course messy and slow.  Some of the advice they are getting is coming from the very “reformers,” and educational leaders from developed nations that have squelched the critical thinking/ life-long learner curricula of literally yesterday.

At Teach a Teacher, we hope to begin with one region and help teachers realize the more tools they have, the more they will enjoy their profession and their students the learning process.

We hope to attract volunteer teachers that love teaching and we hope to add value to their practice by showing our volunteers  how much they actually do know and have to give.

By making a difference in the quality of education  in this one region of Peru, perhaps we can show, most all teachers do desire to teach well.

…stay tuned for Part III: How my class matched up against the Michelle Rhee’s data and teaching experience (thanks to G.F. Brandenburg’s findings) from 2011

Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills to Teachers in some of the poorest areas in Peru.   Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.

Kelly Dwyer is Executive Director  of Teach a Teacher nonprofit. She is a former teacher both in the U.S. and Internationally.  A native of Great Falls, Montana.

Title TFA

                                                                                                                        By Kelly Dwyer

For the past few years I was trying to get to the place I am now, working on our non-profit to promote better teaching in Peru, raising organic fruits and vegetables, and helping my partner build a sustainable restaurant and inn. I am finally on my way to being here full-time to work on all of these worthwhile and meaningful projects.

DSC_0101DSC_0108Copy of back yard

I blew off the eloquent resignation letter so many fine professionals were writing and publishing as of late (in defense of their professions and against the war on education) and went instead for the bonus my district was offering if we resigned early. The district reneged on a technicality (which was never mentioned in their list of requirements for eligibility) and I was appropriately shamed by one of the many “kindergartner,” HR officers and former Teach for America (TFA) recruits when I called to question the decision.

I have been back in Peru for over three months and many times have thought how I need to get back to the blog. Mac has done a great job, but, as the educator in the family, I really have more of the material. Today, spurred on by The Atlantic  article, I Quit Teach for America by Olivia Blanchard, I break my silence and vow to continue to update this blog more often.

In 2008, after 9 years, my stint as an international educator in Huaraz, Peru dried up. We had already decided that we were going to do something that would give back to Peru and its public education system. Teach a Teacher plans were being made but not without the sacrifice of returning to work in the states for a few years to fund our projects here and attempt to finish my doctoral program. I was hired over the phone for my returning post in DC and had only remotely heard of the “great” transformations happening in my former school district. From a distance, it all sounded too good to be true.

My first thought on my new colleagues (mostly TFA recruits) was of their energy, enthusiasm and can-do spirit. Most of them were great people with good intentions. This was from the bottom all the way up, the same. My first sense of the unpreparedness of my NLNS (New Leaders for New Schools) trained administration was my mentioning to my new vice-principal many of the techniques and programs I had worked with over the years and how I might be able to help the inexperienced staff. Her answer was, “As long as it fits with balanced literacy that is fine.” Shortly thereafter I had heard the term balanced literacy from her so many times that I began to ascertain it was the only literacy buzz word she knew. The students of that school ran her as well as the principal and not at all the other way around. The place was a circus.

I was never allowed to help. To the contrary, was given a low rating on my first teaching observation, despite the fact that I had one of the chronic “hall-walkers” attention and a two middle-school students commented to me afterwards, how much they enjoyed the lesson and how they now understood the difference in writing a news article and other writing.  I was asked to teach the journalism elective in addition to my duties as an English Language Teacher.  I was also threatened by DC’s certification board as not being highly qualified for teaching that class; although I ran my own bilingual newspaper for 4 years in Peru, received my first BA in communications and grew up in journalism with my first job at the local newspaper). Please explain to me again about alternative certification!

The TFA’s on the subject of testing, data based instruction and teacher evaluations were great head-nodding believers and some of the second year TFA teachers were downright smug. This was during and right after the infamous Michelle Rhee had fired 266 teachers without due process from the teaching staff of DC public schools.

If I so much as mentioned the ruthlessness of the firings, I was told, “Well, something had to be done!”  The TFA teachers were there to save the day, until they started struggling with their incredibly difficult-to-manage classes.

Another observation I had upon returning, after having taught in the pre-TFA, pre-Testing, pre-Rhee DC; was by the massive TFA hiring, the district had gone back to predominantly white teachers. I thought,

Rethinking Education

Rethinking Education

“Where were these minority students going to get the idea that they too could become professionals, when they were confirming on a daily basis that their familial adults didn’t work or worked a menial or several menial jobs and all their teachers were mostly Caucasians and Asians?” The first thought I had as a back-up plan was to go teach in a community college and make certain more African American and Hispanic young adults became teachers. But that isn’t how it works, oh yeah; they are actually being replaced with these young 5-week TFA prepped teachers!

This is more than likely unique to a few cities in the U.S. such as DC and Atlanta where the populations are predominantly black and therefore in the 70’s and 80’s began to have a population of minority teachers. Please tell me again how the motivation to learn and achieve comes from a naïve graduate of a top university (whose four years are quite possibly already paid for) who hasn’t the slightest understanding of the lives of their new students, to the point that they buy into the fact that all of the students in DC can and will go to university, just like themselves. Perhaps they should have a look at this Atlantic articlefor a little reality check.

I and most all the professional teachers I know are fans of good professional development opportunities. It is the kind of useful knowledge and techniques that were perhaps missed or have since been developed in the education world that one can learn from and take something back the following week to utilize in their classroom or educational setting. One of the reasons I was motivated to return to DC as an English Language Learning teacher was the amount that was being spent on education in the district during Rhee’s reign.

I looked at the calendar full of PD (professional development) dates and was thrilled to return to a District with such bountiful opportunities promised. Unfortunately in my first two years I can count three events as the number of meaningful professional development sessions attended:

• One weekend well spent was presented by my marvelous and gracious coach and mentor, Dara Feldman. Her dedication to the Virtues Project is testament of an understanding that we cannot truly educate until we once again instill humanity and respect in our students.

• The second PD that I found educational and useful was again on the subject of character and violence prevention, called Second Step. The presenter was dynamic and convincing on the value the program. And she also gave us an education on the points of working with each of the generational groups in our staff. But alas, we were never supported to continue the use of the materials we spent the money on. I didn’t know of one classroom teacher who was to carry out and continue with the Second Step curriculum.

• The third was one I sought out sponsored by the Bilingual Education Office, which in my tenure of the last four years, continued to offer the best opportunities for true professional development in the entire District of Columbia Public Schools.

The scheduled professional development days were long drawn out and extremely mind numbing sessions mandated and created by the central office which concentrated on how we would be evaluated when the master teacher or administrator came to observe us and not at all about providing us with more tools to meet those benchmarks. FrameworkThe first week of preparation were spent learning about this Teaching and Learning Framework when every teacher should have been prepping entirely for the year to come.

There were 9 points on the rubric and each session throughout the year centered on one of those and what that meant. They truly expected to observe all nine points during each of their 30 minute observations even if you were possibly conferencing, tutoring or actually allowing the students to take charge or project based learning style, which would throw negate and contradict most of their rubric! 

The structure and demands of the Framework worked in contradiction of any sort of integrated style but instead took instruction back to the process of one skill at a time instruction, which often led to disjointed lack of  engaging materials.  As a second language teacher, I am a big believer in themes, project based learning and continuity which allows the language learner access to the material through interest, exposure and scaffolding the material.

My point being that if these TFA and other teachers were to become Super Teachers, turning the tides of the achievement gap, why wouldn’t DCPS not at least make its own quarterly lesson plans to teach the teachers highly engaging  and why would you not give them something to take away from the session to use? Instead the heavy thumb of the mighty handed central office just wanted you to know on what points you would be judged, but offered no actual techniques and tools one could use to work towards highly effective in their mandated evaluation system.

The turn-over that TFA creates is a problem as well for achievement and motivation. Most TFA teachers are on a two-year contract and can’t wait to move on to bigger and better things once they have finished their short-term commitment.southern desk Did you, at school age, watch the teaching staff change so abruptly every year that you did not recognize over half the school staff every new school year? I doubt many of you can answer yes to that question. And yet, most of the students in the schools I taught in these last few years were well accustomed to the massive exodus each year. It reaffirms their expectations of the absence of caring adults. I applaud the few TFA teachers I have had the privilege of knowing, who have decided to actually hone their craft and continue teaching.


This last year in the last school I taught, a teacher announced she was leaving a month and a half into the school year. Her third graders sat in tears and bewilderment, while their thoughtless “professional,” packed up and left. It threw a wrench in the year for many classes and teachers that were affected by her departure and a position for which a replacement was not found.

Many years ago, when I taught my most effective years of teaching in DC, I requested Looping the years 4th and 5th with the same group of children. class loopFrom those two years I could easily draw the conclusion that we not only need to get teachers to commit to a longer stay, but that the same teacher or group of teachers stay with the same group of students for at least 2 years. In the Waldorf  system the same teacher, ideally, stays with a group of students for 8 years. I guarantee you would be able to legitimately evaluate teacher effectiveness.

One criticism of this is the fact that students would be failed by having an ineffective teacher for several years. But I believe that human nature would take hold and require most adults to step up their game or get out. And they wouldn’t need the draconian chant from the omniscient voice of a fraud like Michelle Rhee of, “Go hard or go home!”

Also, if it were a group of teachers, the team itself could evaluate each other and provide peer pressure to work harder or possibly smarter. As an alternative to making the absurd demand of raising test scores of a class that a teacher has inherited from a long string of possible sorted histories like the year of the third graders just mentioned; we could allow teachers to actually follow through with the same group and we could demand results with some authority (not entirely based on standardized tests)!

In his post, Why I did TFA and Why you Shouldn’t; and TFA’s Three Biggest Lies, Gary Rubenstein points out the major defects of the organization and how a once good organization with noble intent went bad. And Katie Osgood’s An Open Letter to New Teach For America Recruits is the most thorough and hard-hitting description of why the organization has lost its way. It seems we are catching on to what was reported by Great Schools for America in May of 2012, linking ALEC, Stand for Children and Teach For America. Perhaps they should change the name to to Teach for Corporate America (This is yet another example of not reading the subtext or fine print on Education Reform, who want’s it and why.) Salon.com offers some more recent trends in Minnesota and more underling information.

As for me, I am no longer teaching for (The U.S. of) America and its corporate agenda. It isn’t just TFA that is to blame and it certainly isn’t the well-meaning, albeit naïve and uninformed, recruits. I often rail against the test drivers who forever have been claiming that we didn’t do as well in math and science as many Asian countries. But until just a few years ago, there was no such test that was even similar!

Bottom line is that the corporate agenda is to no longer produce critical thinkers for which U.S. schools were better known. They want the uninformed drones that can fill their low-paying jobs. Why else would Walmart be one of the top supporters of TFA? On the upside, with the publishing of Diane Ravitch’s recent book, Reign of Error the voices against the current, reform are growing louder. There is still hope.

In the meantime, I am hoping many of you fine professionals whom have enjoyed a long list of professional development opportunities  feel that you have something to share with teachers in Peru. Give us a holler! We welcome retired teachers with time on your hands, as well.  We value experience! The knowledge you have is valuable.

Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills to Teachers in some of the poorest areas in Peru.   Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.

Kelly Dwyer is Executive Director  of Teach a Teacher nonprofit. She is a former teacher both in the U.S. and Internationally.  A native of Great Falls, Montana.

Teach a Teacher is proud to be a member of a great Organization …

Council for Elementary Science International



We would like to share this information that they have shared with us!

The Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy is accepting applications through October 31, for the 2013 program. Please encourage third- through fifth-grade teachers to apply for this all-expense paid professional development program.


Teachers apply here for the 2014 summer session


Children can also nominate their teacher here 


Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills to Teachers in some of the poorest areas in Peru.   Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.

Mac Wooten is President of Teach a Teacher nonprofit and really likes CESI!  :)  A native of Greenville S.C.   We live and focus most of our work in the Ancash region of Peru.

                                                                                                                        By H Mac Wooten


Title #1 Hey mom           Look      ….     No Hands!

Title #2  Uh  Hello   Uh Hey Dear….   I might Have Just

Lost the Employee of The Month Parking Place

Title #3 Hey  Boss    Someone stole the truck   Really   But I’m ok.  

Title #4  Hello DDDDDear, Could you bring me a chchange of ppppants and uuunderwwear?

Title #5  It’s Not my fault      The gearshift says this  is FORWARD

Title # 6  NO I wasn’t sending a Text

Title #7  Final Score     Karma 1   Truck 0  

Title # 8  Theres also the conventional “Rear Dump” method

I’ll bet you can come up with your own title!


Just when you thought your social calendar was full ….. the circus comes to town.  I generally blog about the problems with  education in developing nations and specifically I blog about education here in Peru.  In these blogs I often talk about pollution of the environment and garbage thrown everywhere but now, I can add one more topic with regards to these problems.   Occasionally the good guy (Karma … in this case ) wins.    _SC_0011p

This truck was dumping  a load of soil into the river for the municipality and tumbled into the river.  Here, dirt, garbage and raw blood from the slaughterhouse (run by the city) is dumped into the river.   The EPA (in the US)  lists Dirt  as the number one cause of pollution in our rivers and streams. When rain washes dirt into streams and rivers, it smothers the little critters in the stream and kills any fish eggs clinging to rocks. Dirt can also clog the gills of fish, suffocating them. Have you ever walked into a pond or lake and noticed  muck rising up and clouding your view of the bottom? Well, if the plants that use the sun to make food (yes, that’s right, you remember photosynthesis from maybe science class ?) can’t get enough sunlight because the water is murky, they die and the river dies.  Camal

Education is failing at the highest levels of government here when the government is responsible for dumping dirt, garbage and raw blood into the rivers.  


I have often observed local schools spending weeks having the children make banners and signs regarding protection of the environment and proudly marching through the streets for hours displaying their signs.  And with the sign/banner in one hand, they’re throwing trash into the street with the other hand.   A vital ingredient is missing from the education when the children are spending time to make the signs and banners and practice marching …. for weeks but don’t learn or understand the message and it’s quite evident the teachers don’t understand it either.

Ironically, I  watched last week as the municipalidad had a painter paint the message, (a loose translation) “We don’t misuse our resources of health” on an adobe wall.

When he finished painting, he threw the empty buckets of paint into the river.  As this post winds to a close,  the driver was unhurt and will probably get fired.   There was another dump truck waiting with another load of dirt to dump into the river and the bulldozer actually pushed more dirt into the river building a ramp to pull the truck out.  So at the end of the day, it was a lose, lose situation for all.  It is highly doubtful that they will add Drivers Ed. to the curriculum in public schools in Peru. 

Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills to Teachers in some of the poorest areas in Peru.   Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.

Mac Wooten is President of Teach a Teacher nonprofit and occasionally teaches Drivers Education.  A native of Greenville S.C.   We live and focus most of our work in the Ancash region of Peru.

by H Mac Wooten


This isn’t a “real” post  but a quick picture I took today.  These  are my neighbors and they are playing (like I’d like to imagine) all kids do   …..  but I suspect kids today in developed nations don’t do as much of this anymore.  Sadly, they’re(kids in developed nations) are in front of the cable TV or XBox or some other video game and getting fatter by the minute.

It’s good to observe and understand the change in times.   These children are having fun and using their imagination.  Go out and try to take a picture of this in your neighborhood.   Yeah … I thought so!


It’s the beginning of winter in the southern hemisphere and the price of flowers is soooo low that the people can’t afford to pick them.  (another problem with an economy filled with uneducated people).   However  it makes a perfect playground and hunting ground for the elusive butterflies for impoverished children in this region.   DSC_0018p

Has it been a while since you’ve seen brothers and sisters actually playing together instead of being force fed by a television or video game (your electronic babysitter)?  Maybe poverty has some advantages after all.  These kids are happily using their imaginations and just being children.  What did your kids do today?  Ask them to go catch butterflies and go with them.   It will do all a world of good.  Spend some time with them and share your childhood.

Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills to Teachers in some of the poorest areas in Peru.   Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.

Mac Wooten is President of Teach a Teacher nonprofit and occasionally tries to catch butterflies and watches/notices times gone past.  A native of Greenville S.C.   We live and focus most of our work in the Ancash region of Peru.

                                                                                                                                                                                         by H Mac Wooten

First, I’d like to say thank you to all our new followers.  It is somewhat gratifying to know others are interested in educational issues that don’t just encompass their neighborhood.   In my blogs, I try to tell the story and a few facts, reasons, and my personal experiences here living and working with the people and Teachers in Peru (a developing country).  The title I’ve uses comes from my wife.  She tells everyone when she asks me what time it is, I start by explaining to her how the watch was made. watch I  am, quite often guilty of doing this.  I occasionally use a wide brush when painting a picture of how I perceive a situation.  I often cover most of the canvas with my wide brush, but occasionally paint things not especially relevant to the intended discussion.

Not so much my living here, but actually, getting involved and working here (with Teach a Teacher) has really illuminated the differences and importance in education.

 “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” 
― William Arthur Ward

How Watches are Made part:   I have an ex-cousin-in-law who taught in a Catholic school in St. Louis.  She had a student who was working as a cook in the kitchen of a very successful Italian family  owned restaurant.  She tried desperately to get him to study, apply himself and LEARN.  He told her, he didn’t need to because he was going to work in the family business and make about $ 75 – $ 100,000 a year.  His reasoning was stronger than her reasoning to get him to learn.  When the kid graduated high school, his salary would start higher than her salary.

There aren’t too many Italian restaurants here in Peru, nor are there too many good paying jobs for the majority of the population.  Education IS the key for a better quality of life here.  I look at male teenagers in my neighborhood and see most of them growing up and maybe driving a moto-taxi. …… not  much of a bright future.  Many have finished their primary education and now (if they have the money and can pass an exam) can go to university.  University here is at best, similar to a high school but may offer a much narrower curriculum or very narrow field of studies). University here is in no way equal to College or a University in a developed nation.  The future for a typical female teenager is far more destitute and despairing.  Statistically, there are several children in her near future as she works in the field all day.

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”   ― Nikos Kazantzakis


This picture ( I took on 4/20/20123) is typical scene.  The woman is 19 yrs old and has 2 children ages 13 months and 3.  One of them plays in the dirt while the other is usually carried on the mother’s back while she plants her lettuce in the poor soil.  Lettuce isn’t a major food staple here and it is beyond my ability to comprehend a profit margin after the labor and fertilizer and pesticides …. yes they spray the lettuce with pesticides because they think they need to?

We have an immediate need for your consideration.  We have some Volunteer Teachers coming this summer to help with our Teach a Teacher Nonprofit.  Volunteers pay their own transportation here as well as food and lodging.  We don’t require out Volunteers to speak perfect Sp. and certainly not Quechua. We have to hire translators for each of our Volunteer Teachers to work with Teachers here. Would you / could you commit to paying for 1 translator for 1 day (about $ 14.00). Several of you have made donations and we’re truly thankful and many of you seem to be putting off making a donation. WELL it’s after TAX DAY and you know that BIG Refund is coming now …. so Please consider helping with a donation or coming here to help personally. The picture here is a school we work with and they’re only one of many.  Thanks for helping.   

The School Cafeteria

The School Cafeteria



Operators are standing by ! :)  If you think you’d like to come to volunteer, please contact us at www.teachateacher.org

Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills to Teachers in some of the poorest areas in Peru.   Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.

Mac Wooten is President of Teach a Teacher nonprofit and occasionally explains how watches are made and forgets to adjust for Daylight Savings Time.  A native of Greenville S.C.   We live and focus most of our work in the Ancash region of Peru.

* A special thanks to Google Images one of which I used in this post.

                                                                                                                        By H Mac Wooten

This is yet another face of the Education here in Peru.   This particular face  of education (these pamphlets) were being thrown by the thousands into the streets as an advertisement for CESAR VALLEJO Academy.   Cesar Vallejo Academy Educational Excellence Now in Caraz Ensures Your Income Dual System  Vocational Guidance  Counseling Drills Psychology   Permanent scholarships and half scholarships to our best students.

Litter in the streets

 Yes, litter as we know it.  The taxi had a huge loudspeaker and a recorded message soliciting new students for the school.  I was actually picking up accumulated daily trash thrown into the street in front of our property in Caraz when the taxi drove by throwing more trash ( handfuls of the advertisement) into the streets.  I watched in sadness and disbelief as the new litter was being blown by the wind down an empty street.  My first thought was to collect a handful and march down to the school and deliver (throw them into someones office) them in person to whoever was in charge, but sadly, I truly don’t think they would have understood my constructive criticism.

Yes, we, in the U S and other developed countries had a huge litter problem many years ago (still not perfect   but better) and our educational system started teaching  “Don’t Litter”.    How many of you old people remember this commercial?  Keep America Beautiful.litter

It certainly is engraved into my memory.  In the 60′s, the Elementary schools (in the U S) started teaching    “Don’t Litter”.

The more recent version is “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute”.


Here, (in Peru) the problem of dealing with pollution and litter needs to start at both ends of the spectrum being,  the children and the government.   Yesterday I saw a city worker dumping a 55 gallon drum of the garbage she had collected from the street into the river. The local governments here don’t want to deal with the trash either.  They, as a normal practice … dump it into the river.  Litter is dropped /thrown everywhere by everyone with no second thought.

I used to give our own workers packs of cookies and a drink everyday and they would throw the wrappers on the ground with no thought.  I would reprimand them and then explain that I didn’t want the trash here and then pick it up and properly dispose of it.  After a week of continueing to pick up the cookie wrappers, I stopped giving them cookies.  They didn’t learn or change, but I did!


I haven’t given up.  The workers we employ now are slowly learning … as am I. The general public and  the children here see this as an acceptable practice of advertisement or acceptable way to deliver a message or news.  In my opinion …. it isn’t and I wont be able to change that!

In the whole scheme of things Education is one of the most important ingredients  needed to change the quality of life of any people.  Peru and it’s people ultimately have to decide it’s role and importance.  Peru’s level of education should not be the decision of non-Peruvians ….. however I do believe it is incumbent of Developed Nations to show them that there is  a better quality of life directly linked to quality education.  All I can do is to lead by example!  If any of you would like to study abroad …. maybe Cesar Vallejo Academy is for you!  As for myself,      I’ll be signing up for classes in the Spring!

PS   The children at the top of this post are real children

at one of the schools we work with   (NOT paid actors)   :)

Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills  to Teachers in some of the poorest areas in Peru.   Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.

Mac Wooten is President of Teach a Teacher Nonprofit and Chief Litter Picker-Upper for the street.  A native of Greenville S.C.   We live and focus most of our work in the Ancash region of Peru.
* Special thanks to Google Images

                                                                                                                            By H Mac Wooten

It really IS up to you.

The bystander effect or Genovese syndrome is a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases where individuals do not offer any means of help in an emergency situation to the victim when other people are present. The probability of help has often appeared to be inversely related to the number of bystanders; in other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help. The mere presence of other bystanders greatly decreases intervention. In general, this is believed to happen because as the number of bystanders increases, any given bystander is less likely to notice the situation, interpret the incident as a problem, and less likely to assume responsibility for taking action.  help

Do you recall the story of Kitty Genovese?  On March 13, 1964 Genovese a  28 year old woman, was on her way back to her Queens, New York, apartment from work at 3:am when she was stabbed to death by a serial rapist and murderer. According to newspaper accounts, the attack lasted for at least a half an hour during which time Genovese screamed and pleaded for help. The murderer attacked Genovese and stabbed her, then fled the scene after attracting the attention of a neighbor. The killer then returned ten minutes later and finished the assault. Newspaper reports after Genovese’s death claimed that 38 witnesses watched the stabbings and failed to intervene or even contact the police until after the attacker fled and Genovese had died.

This example may be somewhat disturbing, but the point I’m trying to make is: YOUR individual help is often needed.  Don’t think others are going to step up to the plate and take action.  Get involved when there is help needed.

Consider making a small donation to Teach a Teacher Nonprofit.  Help us help others. Your donation will make a difference.

You can go directly to the “DONATE” link here:  If you click on this link you will be taken from our site to a SECURE connection with Paypal.


If you make a donation , we will thank you by sending you one of our postcards with a hand written “thank you”.   Please send us your snail mail address or your email address if you would prefer a Virtual Postcard.  The choice is yours.Langunaco

Please check out our website and see what we do and where we do it!  Thank you in advance :)

If you read this more than once, you can donate more than once!   We will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you have.

Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills to Teachers in some of the poorest areas in Peru.   Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.

Mac Wooten is President of Teach a Teacher nonprofit.  A native of Greenville S.C.   We live and focus most of our work in the Ancash region of Peru.


March 4, 2013

Hello all

We finally got the “DONATE” button working on        Teach a Teacher Nonprofit website  www.teachateacher.org 
Please take a minute and check out our website and see who we are and what we’re doing and consider getting involved or making a small donation.  A little goes a long way here in Peru, a developing country.  We all know how important education is and you can help.

If you make a donation, please drop us an email and include you Snail mail address and we’ll thank you by sending you one of our postcards OR if you would prefer a Virtual postcard, please give us your email address …  Please indicate which postcard you’d prefer to receive   Your choice!

  DSC00063When you click on the “DONATE” button you leave our website and go directly to a secure connection with PayPal and have a choice of several options.  It’s quick, easy and painless and you’ll feel good, become better looking, lose weight and help us help others.

Click here to go directly to Donate.      http://www.teachateacher.org/index_files/GETINVOLVEDdonate.htmLangunaco
I’m not picking on anyone, I’m picking on everyone    …. I’m sending this to everyone :)   Help Teach a Teacher and forward this to your friends, colleagues and contacts  and  “Like” us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/teachateacher
Thank you in advance and you have our sincere appreciation
H. Mac Wooten

If you read this more than once, you can donate more than once

Teach a Teacher and our Volunteers provide Professional Development and help teach basic teaching skills to Teachers in some of the poorest areas in Peru.   Please visit us at www.teachateacher.org and www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and at teachateacher on Facebook.

Mac Wooten is President of Teach a Teacher nonprofit.  A native of Greenville S.C.   We live and focus most of our work in the Ancash region of Peru.

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