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Sat., Aug. 29
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Fund established by local women gets grant to improve literacy in Malawi


Founders and supporters of the Women of Grace Widows Fund will put their personal expertise to use after receiving a $34,000 grant to improve literacy of Malawian children for the next three years.

Heather F. White, a kindergarten teacher at Sherman Elementary, said the grant from the Presbyterian Women organization of the Presbyterian Church USA will show Malawi teachers effective teaching methods and tools for improving their students’ literacy.

“What we’re trying to do is share some of our reading strategies, but make them applicable in a larger Malawi setting,” said Mrs. White. “Our overall goal is to have teachers who attend our training, take tools, use them and (for us) to leave Malawi with a coordinator who will check in with teachers there every four months.”

Mrs. White said a team of teachers — three local and one from Colorado — will train between 30 and 40 Malawian teachers during a two-week trip to Malawi, beginning July 17. Mrs. White will be joined by Renee Waterbury, a first-grade teacher at Sherman Elementary; Rita Gefell, a teaching assistant with Carthage Central School District; and Sue Remington, a first-grade teacher in Colorado.

Throughout the next three years, Mrs. White said, the number of teachers from here who go to Malawi to check progress will diminish as improvements are made. Next year, only three teachers will go; the following year, only two teachers will go. Improvements to the system will be made as needed, Mrs. White said.

The focus on literacy is a first for the Women of Grace Widows Fund, which has provided — and continues to provide — grants or micro loans to help Malawian widows start small businesses and become self-sufficient.

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