The Faces of Resilience: Meet Philomene

Meet Philomene, a highlight hire of 2020, Wellspring’s first Early Childhood Education (ECE) trainer, and one of our Faces of Resilience!

Philomene joined our team at the end of 2020, and has blown us away by her resilience, brilliance, and passion for pre-primary education, even amidst the challenges of the pandemic. She has been a key piece to the development and supporting our Early Childhood Education modules that we’re looking forward to.

In the meantime, meet Philomene in this exclusive interview, where she shared how she’s been working towards getting our ECE workshops up and running, her passion for education, and how she’s shown resilience through the ups and downs of the past two years.

Wellspring: What do you love most about teaching?

Philomene: There is a lot to love in teaching. I love interacting with students, having fun with them, and learning from them. I love helping them learn and understand the world through various courses and games. I love watching kids grow and change over the course of the school year, and perhaps seeing them the following year in school. We know about developmental changes that happen in the age groups we teach, but I love seeing how that plays out in individual students. It feels great to make a difference by caring about students as people, seeing and responding to them as individuals, and building safe, respectful places in our classrooms. I also like supporting teachers. I consider this as a dual impact—impacting teachers who will impact learners. 

Wellspring: What has been your experience as an Early Childhood Education Trainer since starting with Wellspring at the end of 2020?

Philomene: Teacher’s training is a journey that I have enjoyed from the start. Throughout this journey, I carried out a number of activities that upgraded my skills, knowledge, experience, and training techniques. The journey supported learning on my end, but I also supported the learning of teachers in a number of activities we completed together. Here is a summary of the experience gained since I started:

I conduct capacity-building of teachers and education leaders on different levels. 

I deliver training focusing on the improvement of teaching and learning practices. I help teachers and school leaders best use daily routines to enforce learning outcomes and manage learning in early grades. I also prepare documents, training toolkits, and contents. For instance: I work on Early Childhood Education training modules. 

I train, coach, and mentor early grade teachers on multiple topics. The first is childhood teaching methodology. The focus here is teaching through the process of interactive activities and play in play-based learning and considers all learning areas: numeracy, literacy, the discovery of the world, art and culture, physical development and health, social and emotional development, and language (Kinyarwanda and English). Second, I train ECE teachers on how to make teaching aids by using local and non-cost materials, and on how to use them in the lesson to foster the learning of young children.

My experience has not been limited to doing data collection for me to make data-informed decisions. The data is merely about people I work with, the support that I give them, the impact of training, and the support that they still need. Reporting has also been a part of my experience. I work on reporting activities that are associated with teachers’ training. This is for record-keeping, tracking improvement, and informing my management about completed activities. 

Wellspring: What are some of the lessons you have drawn from this difficult time as a teacher trainer? How have you displayed resilience?

Philomene: All people all over the world have been struggling to continue with their work. This period has not been allowing us to meet and do our work as normal. Since it has started, all public and private institutions have shifted some parts of their face-to-face operations to virtual working. The pandemic has brought us many changes and troubles, but all in all, I have learned to trust in Jesus. I got to understand well that there is a controller of what takes place on the earth. With this difficult time, I also got to learn that every situation should have a plan B to adapt to it. I have done my best to learn technology skills, to be tech-savvy, and deliver when working online, virtually, and remotely. 

Because of your support, trainers like Philomene, along with school communities across Rwanda, have not come down. Instead, they adapted to the challenges, rose to the occasion, and continued toward their goal of providing quality education to every student. They have displayed resilience against all odds and have continued rekindling the flame of resilience within school communities—all thanks to your constant support and partnership.

Thank you for standing with Philomene and our team of trainers in 2021 as they continued empowering healthy and resilient students, school leaders, teachers, and parents! And thank you for joining us as we prepare to support pre-primary teachers to build a healthy learning foundation for their little learners.  

None of this work is possible without you. Thank you!