My name is Dena Grushkin. I am a recently retired American public-school teacher of 36 years as well as the founder and director of The Nigerian School Project and The Dream School Foundation. My organizations support public schools in Nigeria by building infrastructure, providing educational resources, awarding university scholarships and offering guidance, mentoring and academic assistance to students in schools we’ve built and serve. My most recent project involves piloting a literacy program with SunBooks, a World Literacy Foundation initiative, that merges technology and education.
The Nigerian School Project & The Dream School Foundation
For the past fifteen years I have been purchasing textbooks, providing uniforms, awarding university scholarships and building classroom furniture, libraries and schools. My latest construction, a junior and secondary school in an underserved oceanside community will be completed and turned over to the government in early January 2020. While a portion of my work is focused on building infra-structure, I am fiercely devoted to developing programing in schools I am connected to
In 2010, the US Navy delivered 10,000 books that were distributed to twelve public school libraries built by NSP. While I felt pride in the effort, I was embarrassed by the content of many of those books: predominantly white characters and white content. Because I believe every child deserves to see their face reflected back at them in the pages of a book, I promised myself that I would work to help change that someday. Someday has arrived! Now Sun Books and their culturally relevant books and curriculum are helping to change the literacy landscape of this continent.
The school selected for the pilot program is the Ireti Girls Primary school, located in the heart of Lagos. There are approximately 150 female students between the ages of 5 and 8, dressed in cobalt blue uniforms and puffy gold hats. There are twelve teachers, small class sizes, all ideal for running a pilot program. With the literacy rate hovering at 40% most students still need tremendous work on fundamental skills. Sun Books’ 200+ stories, activities and teacher resources will do wonders to address the extreme shortage of appropriate and current teaching materials. The Sun Books Project was introduced to the administration, teachers and the head of the local ministry of Education and they are all very excited to get started.
During my week of training I will model the program for the entire teaching staff and give direct training to two teachers. The plan is to closely monitor the progress of those two classrooms before we introduce it to the rest of the school. One of the unique elements of the Sun Books program is the capability students have to write their own stories and have them uploaded into the Ebook. I will be bringing sample stories with me to model for the teachers and students. And, the students will have an opportunity to write stories that I can submit to Sun Books for publication.