Bishop John and Helen Visit
Arriving on September 22, Bishop John Danbinta and his wife, Helen, embarked on a whirlwind visit before departing from New York on October 6.
After a day of rest, the Bishop joined the AEP Board for an all-day meeting to discuss progress and next steps. Board members Angela Dimezza and Paul Frank joined us, having driven up to Connecticut from our sister church in Akron, Ohio. Aside from being a wonderful reunion, it was a great day of fellowship and dialogue. We were able to outline a clear vision of our next steps and determine costs and a possible timeline.
After meeting with the Board, Bishop John and Helen attended churches in New London and Bloomfield, leading weeknight bible studies. Free-will offerings were collected and connections made for possible partnerships in the future.
A potluck dinner was held at St. Peter’s Church, our home base, to serve as a meet and greet for supporters from both St. Peter’s Church and Trinity Church, Tariffville. About forty guests were in attendance. A wonderful time was had by all, with time to talk with the couple and share experiences.
For the final few days, Bishop and Helen traveled to New York, where they stayed with pastor friends until their departure early on Friday morning, October 7. Connections were made for networking with another church in the Bronx. The couple returned safely to Nigeria and has taken time to settle back into a routine, after the wedding of their daughter on October 22.
AEP Welcomes a New Board Member!
AEP is pleased and proud to announce the addition of Reverend Amjad Samuel to the Board of Directors. Rev. Amjad comes to us having served as Assistant Rector at St. Paul’s Church, Akron. He was recently installed as Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Huntington.
A native of Pakistan, Rev. Amjad came to know Bishop John when they were roommates while both studying for their Master’s degrees in Muslim-Christian Relations at Hartford Seminary.
We welcome Rev. Amjad’s passion, knowledge and wisdom as an important member of the Board.
He and his wife Mollie are settling into their new surroundings as Mollie works on her Master’s Thesis in Theology.
Next Steps for Grace International School
The AEP Board met with Bishop John on Saturday, September 24, for a full day retreat. Board members from Akron, Ohio joined us. Angela Dimezza and Paul Frank made the trip east to spend time in discussion and planning during a wonderful day of fellowship.
The next steps for Grace International School were clearly outlined:
1. Finish the administration office, computer lab, and science labs on the top of the examination
2. Build the wall around the remaining property to ensure security and that encroachment does not happen.
3. Provide scholarships for deserving students.
4. Provide a source of electricity through solar panels.
5. Provide a well for a constant supply of clean water.
6. AEP has recently begun working with a grant writer in the hopes of securing funds for the large remaining capital projects. Members are working to provide the grant writer with the necessary background information that will form the foundation for the requests to different groups.
Excellent WAEC Exam Results!
At the end of April the 12th. Grade students sat for the West Africa Education Council (WAEC) exams. These are the equivalent of our SAT College Board exams and are used to gain entrance into a university for further study. All of the students passed, some with distinction! This sets a high standard and has earned Grace a reputation stat-wide as a “tough” school. Enrollment has been steady, helping the school to recover from the decima- ion as students and families left the area after the 2015 presidential elections.
We are very excited to inform you that we have now established a repeatable process to capture, track and report exam scores to the Gusau administration and other interested benefactors. While at this point it is only one set of data, we are now in a position to easily determine in which courses our students are struggling and in which courses they excel.
Over time, we will be positioned to layer-in each year`s performance to identify emerging trends from class to class. To the extent there may be other applications for this kind of information, we are happy to further explore those data needs.
The numeric values range from 1 (excellent) to 9 (fail). Scores from 1 to 3 are in the good to excellent range and what we most want to see. Scores from 4 to 6 are acceptable with the student receiving credit on the exam. Scores from 7 to 8 receive a pass; a score of 9 is a fail rating.
Summer Trip Update
AEP Board member Elaine Chagnon made her seventh trip to Nigeria from July 22-August 7. Four of the days were spent in Gusau. While there, Elaine met with school administrators to discuss concerns and needs. In addition, she presented the administrators with school supplies donated from the United States.
Elaine was accompanied to Gusau by Ven. Tom Furrer on August 1. He came to discuss with Bishop John the possibility of building a medical clinic on land adjacent to the school. (See Article on page 4). He left on Tuesday morning: Elaine remained until Friday morning.
Because Elaine was in Gusau by herself, she was not allowed to travel to the school as Bishop was unavailable to accompany her. Teacher training was held at the Bishop’s compound, with 25 teachers in attendance.
Much progress was noted in teacher participation and willingness to ask questions. The administration was supportive of addressing teacher concerns and a rich dialogue ensued. New curriculum guides, much improved over the 2011 versions, were also shared. Discussion ensued around a possible trip in February 2017 to observe teachers and students in session. Topics for possible workshops were decided upon as well.
The presence of a clinic adjacent to Grace International School.
AEP has been presented with a wonderful opportunity; one that will enhance both the school and the surrounding neighborhood. Kateri Medical Services, Inc., led by Ven. Tom Furrer, formerly of Trinity Church, Tariffville, has been in discussion with AEP and Bishop John to build a clinic. The conversations began last March, when AEP representatives met with Bishop John and a group of doctors. Ven. Tom Furrer provided the parameters for the construction of the proposed clinic adjacent to our school reinforces the connection between education and medical care. While there is not timeline for the project at this time, dialogue is continuing...stay tuned!
Based on the outcomes from that discussion, Kateri Medical Services, Inc. has offered to build the clinic at no cost to AEP. In addition, they will provide the funding to staff it for one year. Kateri Medical Services, Inc. has sought out contributors, making the entire proposal a reality for Grace International School.
The prospect of a clinic in this area of Nigeria provides wonderful opportunities on a multitude of levels. Below: Doctors and pastors together with Bishop John (second from right), Ven. Tom Furrer, Kateri Medical Services, Inc., and Elaine Chagnon, AEP Board Member.
The photo above was taken on the site of the proposed clinic. Grace international School can be seen in the background.
Granby , CT High School Fundraiser
Granby Memorial High School students sponsored a “Pennies for Peace” campaign to raise funds for Grace International School during the last two weeks in May. After viewing a presentation given by Elaine Chagnon, GMHS teacher and AEP Board member, students competed against each other in their advisory classes to raise funds for lab and playground equipment. The result was an astounding $680 which will go far to purchase much- needed equipment. Many thanks to both students and staff for the compassion demonstrated during this two- week campaign – amazing! The contribution is greatly appreciated and will go far in providing needed equipment.
Wall Fund-Raiser– Can you Help?
The property directly behind the school provides enough space to build additional classroom blocks and dormitories in the future. This is a prime piece of land surrounded by a growing neighborhood. As houses continue to spring up, there is an increased probability that the land might be encroached upon.
Even though the property has been purchased and paid for, it is currently unoccupied and can be encroached by property owners adjoining our property. Building the wall is a crucial next-step. The wall can be constructed in phases, with the perimeter established three to four blocks high. As long as the border has been established, all will be well.
The diocese has the ability to make their own blocks.
The total bill for the wall is estimated to be around $60,000. We have already secured about half of the funds needed. In order to speed up the project, would you consider purchasing blocks at $1.00 each or making an additional donation for the wall fund? Every little bit helps, especially at this crucial time.
During our visit in March, we were able to see the partially completed examination hall, built in very close proximity to the other school buildings. While construction was underway, we had concerns as to whether or not the building would be complete for the exams, scheduled during the window of March 15- April 30.
Similar to the SAT exams here, the West Africa Board Exams (WAEC) determine a student’s preparedness to enter university. Students study and prepare just like here with review sessions and practice tests.
Our Nigerian partners made a wise decision in determining the hall as a critical next step, acquiring the needed accreditation for Grace from Zamfara State. The hall was cleverly designed and reinforced to support five classrooms on a soon-to-be-constructed second floor - our next step.
Just over 30 students sat for their exams. The exam results should be available in late July.