We have been concerned by the numbers of youth that we know who are struggling in school. Struggling to the point of failing subjects and at risk of repeating the school year. The school system is quite different here. The subject load is rigorous and the pressure is extreme. In many ways, I really like the system. I feel that our own daughter is getting a great education and the level of competence is high. But in others, I am saddened as a teacher. It is very much a system of ’cans and cannots’, and if you cannot… you’re pretty much sunk. There is no real system for helping students who are failing. Outside of school, there are ’academies’ where you can go to pay for outside tutoring, but it isn’t cheap. And best practices for teaching and learning styles are not the norm. Every year, several of Sarah’s classmates fail and are held back. Every year, there are fewer and fewer students in her class.
Over the past few months, Billy has been putting his teacher face back on and helping out youth who are in danger of being left behind by the system. He has been dusting off those Algebra books, pulling the Physics formulas out of hiding, and throwing his hat in the Chemistry ring. He has even been doing a little English tutoring.
Why does this matter? How does this transform lives? One of Billy’s students is an immigrant, working in his second language, and has already repeated a year. He is one of the thousands in Spain who are at high risk of dropping out and becoming part of the 30+% unemployment rate for young adults. He lives in the region of Spain with the highest rate of young male suicide. He has very few male role models in his life. Time with Billy is not only time for tutoring, but time for connection and relationship and a loving father-figure. It’s time invested in a young life, time giving hope.
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the Sarah (14) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!