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West Virginia Teacher Thrilled about Trip To Uganda: it’s just something I’ve always wanted to do

A teacher from Barboursville will realize one of her childhood dreams when she heads to Uganda this summer. Ashley Baylor is busy getting ready for the trip while wrapping up her first year teaching middle school.

Ashley Baylor graduated with a degree in art education from Marshall University two years ago. While at Marshall she became interested in a nonprofit organization called Invisible Children.

In her time at Marshall, a group of students joined students at colleges around the world for a program called Schools 4 Schools which helps pay for 11 schools in Africa. Baylor recently found that there is a teacher exchange program and decided to take part.

“It’s hard to explain, it’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do. When I was little I was fascinated by, in church we would have missionaries come in and talk, and it’s just something I’ve always wanted to do, to help other people and I’ve just always been drawn to other countries and do things like that,” Baylor said.

Baylor says she found through her participation in Schools 4 Schools during her undergrad work at Marshall that the standards in Uganda’s school systems are high. But war had destroyed buildings and hurt the ability to deliver an education. The money raised through Schools 4 Schools helped build new schools, purchase supplies and train teachers.

Barboursville Middle School’s cafeteria bustles with activity on a normal day as students move through the line to get their lunch, eat and talk with friends. Baylor expects the cafeterias to sound the same, but expects other aspects of Uganda’s schools will be different.

“I’m trying not to have too many expectations because I think everyone’s experience is really different, especially depending on where you’re at and what you’re doing, but I just want to be a stronger teacher and maybe, since their school system is set up so differently, maybe having knowledge of that will help me,” Baylor said.

Baylor has to pay for costs associated with the trip like travel, meals, lodging and the conference she’ll take part in. Invisible Children covers the cost of the supplies for the classrooms.

Baylor has some apprehension about being one of the newest teachers chosen for the trip.

“Yeah I definitely think, a lot of the people that are on my team have been teaching a little longer than me and that’s why when I applied for this I didn’t really think I was going to get it because I didn’t have that much experience, but yeah, it’s a little nerve wracking to think about that too,” Baylor said.

Baylor teaches basic computing at Barboursville Middle School. She said as the time to leave gets closer she’s become more eager to be a part of the program.

“I’m getting really excited because like I said, this is something I’ve always wanted to do and now I’m like, I’m doing it in like two months or less than two months, and they’ve been giving us a lot of stuff to prepare and we’re trying to learn the language and we had reading assignments to do and I’m finishing a book on education called liberation of education,” Baylor said.

Baylor will teach art when she heads to Uganda June 23. She’ll be there until August 6.

By Clark Davis

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