A Passion for Teaching, by Coleen

Alex and Sanda
Alex and Mr. Sanda Moumouni

Many of you can remember a favorite teacher – one who motivated you, challenged you, pushed you when you needed pushing, and praised you when you deserved it. Teachers like that can make something as simple as a smile or a “Yes! You got it!” feel like a gold medal. I was delighted to find just such a jewel of a teacher in a packed CE1 (2nd grade) classroom, on a hot dusty day, in a little school in a little town effectively in the middle of nowhere. Mr. Sanda Moumouni was on fire, and it was catching.

In that crowded room at the Tsibiri Primary Boarding School, he had his students in the palm of his hand. A lesson on verb conjugations came to life through his excitement, and his energy permeated the room. His body language displayed his enthusiasm, and his voice rang loudly one moment and dropped to a near-whisper the next. Great teaching is part theater, and Mr. Sanda is a master.

Sanda in his classroom
Mr. Sanda Moumouni in his classroom.

This is the teacher who offers extra enrichment classes in the computer lab, which is outside the scope of his regular duties, because he knows how important it is to help new and struggling students. This is the teacher who provides instruction in the school garden, developing rigorous and relevant science lessons with the fruits and vegetables as his teaching tools. This is the teacher to whom his colleagues come to ask for insight about his former students: they want to know how they can get the best out of them, and Mr. Sanda remembers what makes every one of them tick.

William Butler Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” The students at the Tsibiri school are lucky – their teacher understands this philosophy, and he brings it to life for them every day.

View a video of Mr. Sanda in action: