By Stephanie Abney
Colombian School Invites Arizona Educator to Train 36 Teachers
Vicki Massey began her career in education as a much-beloved classroom teacher 26 years ago. As her skills and love of teaching increased, she continued her education at NAU, graduating with a Master of Arts in Science Teaching. Vicki went on to become a Science Specialist with Mesa Public Schools. She retired from the district last year.
Meanwhile, in Bogota, Colombia, husband and wife, German and Fabiola Rodriguez, started a school. Both former science teachers, they wanted a school that would produce more scientists for Colombia. They named their school The Marie Curie School, hoping to encourage more girls to enter the field.
The Rodriguezes knew their teachers needed additional training to promote science. They heard about a Sci-Tech Festival put on by Mesa Public Schools and traveled to Arizona to attend, so they could learn how to put on a similar event in their country.
As a key member of the festival committee, Sister Massey was introduced to them. When the Rodriguezes said they had no one qualified to instruct their teachers, she perked up.
“I said I would come to Colombia and do a training seminar. German Rodriguez, the principal of the school, looked at me and got tears in his eyes. What could I do? Immediately his wife got out her calendar and set a date. Gulp. I was committed,” Vicki says.
But, then, Sister Massey already knew a great deal about commitment and following her passion. She and her husband, Grant, members of the Val Vista Ward, Mesa Mountain View Stake are the parents of six and have three grandchildren. A convert to the LDS Church of 30 years, Vicki has served as Laurel advisor, Primary worker, Primary president, stake Primary leader, Scout leader, Sunday School and Relief Society teacher and librarian. She loves to quilt, garden and play with her grandchildren.
Sister Massey says her experience in Colombia this past summer, which included eating chocolate-covered ants, was successful in many ways.
When she arrived, a classroom had been set up as per her instructions, with the supplies she requested, and she was provided an interpreter. Her course was billed as “’Engaging 21st Century Learners,’ a hands-on professional teacher development seminar, by Vicki Massey, MA,” and 36 teachers, from preschool to high school level attended.
Sister Massey taught the Colombian teachers new ways of reaching their students, including how to use cooperative table groups, 5E lessons (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate), inquiry teaching in all subjects and the Engineering Design Process, among other things.
Principal Rodriguez sat in on all the trainings and participated with his teachers.
“How can I know what my teachers are to do if I do not do it myself?” he says.
Sister Massey says, “I received a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I was impacting teachers who would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn the best practices in teaching. I loved it so much that I am planning to go back to Bogota in June of 2015 to do another professional development training.”