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Iles kindergarten teacher spends a month working in South Africa

Posted: Aug. 10, 2018 9:35 am

QUINCY — Stories told by her grandparents of their missionary work in South Africa stuck with young Hannah Javaux.

Looking for something different to do this summer, the Iles kindergarten teacher followed their footsteps to work with students a world away from Quincy.

Javaux spent July working at a private Christian school on the campus of a Bethesda Outreach orphanage, a site her grandparents visited in Hammanskraal, located north of Pretoria, serving some 250 K-8 students.

“They are, in a lot of ways, a lot like any other kid. They want your attention. They want help. They have the same struggles,” Javaux said.

Javaux tutored some students behind in their work during the school's winter break, then worked in a kindergarten classroom when the English-speaking school resumed.

“It was so neat to learn about the culture, to see different ways kids learn. Some of it was the same. Some was different,” she said.

“I worked a lot with one little girl one-on-one who just had a lot of trouble focusing and trying to help her keep on task — similar to any other kid I'm going to work with here,” she said. “The teacher was grateful for any help. Any one-on-one aide is wonderful.”

Javaux taught a couple of math lessons, including one on three-dimensional shapes, a literacy lesson and a Bible lesson for students.

“It was so much fun,” said Javaux, who taught at the Early Childhood and Family Center before moving to Iles for this coming school year. “It got me excited about coming back to get my classroom ready and start teaching.”

She'll bring with her some of her “summer vacation” experience ranging from children's books and stories to share with her students to the South African teacher's style.

“She had grown up at the orphanage, gone through the academy, graduated, went to university and now is a teacher there. She knew where the kids were coming from and treated all her students with fairness and compassion,” she said.

“I liked her academic style. It was very relaxed. She gave her students plenty of time to work on whatever activity they were doing,” she said. “I hope to be able to somehow work that into my classroom so we're not rushed. I learned a lot from that teacher. I could tell she cared about her students.”

But academics seem more of a priority in the United States.

“I'm used to public schools pushing academics, parents pushing academics and having such a priority on academics here in America,” she said. “That's not the same way in South Africa.”

Weekends provided Javaux an opportunity to visit some nearby sites including a game park, outdoor markets, a township church and the largest mall in Africa.

“I don't have plans to go back, but if the opportunity arose and I was able to go again, I would,” she said. “It was a great opportunity to learn so much about the culture and a great experience to see another kind of academic setting.”

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