My name is Rachel Stoney. I graduated from Xavier in May of 2010 with my degree in Early Childhood Education. I grew up outside of Detroit in the small town of Plymouth, Michigan. I wanted to be a teacher from a very young age, and studying at XU was a dream come true. During my time at Xavier I enjoyed tutoring at different schools in CPS, and being involved in Life After Sunday and Campus Ministry.
After graduating I moved to a tiny town outside of Atlanta, GA to begin my teaching career. God called me to be a part of an international missions company called Life Teen Missions (lifeteen.com/missions). The missions company has a school that is offered as an educational alternative for the local community. I live in the north Georgia mountains and teach in a multi-age classroom for children grades 2-5. I always imagined I would teach in the inner city, but God had other plans! It has been a wild adventure of teaching and learning so far. I am blessed every day with the opportunity to foster a love for discovering, investigating, and creating. I will be beginning my third year at Little Way Elementary in the fall of 2012, and I couldn’t be happier.
Prior to my field experience in Kenya, I spent my year as a Brueggeman fellow studying early childhood education in developing countries throughout the world. My research focused primarily on varying countries’ efforts to provide free primary education. Through this study, I continually referred back to the UN’s Millennium Development goals as they pertained to education.
My study led me to Hekima Place (with the guidance of past fellow Jenny Komos Hartman!)--a home for girl scholars who have been orphaned primarily by HIV/AIDS. During my stay there, I had the opportunity to observe in several primary classrooms in both the public and private setting. I was also given the opportunity to teach English and math.
Much of my research prior to traveling pertained to literacy and the need for quality literature to engage and motivate students. With the help of the education department at Xavier, I was able to bring a suitcase full of beautiful texts to share with the girls of Hekima place. I quickly acquired the nickname “Storyteller” as evening story time become a daily occurrence. I never intended for this to happen, but the stories quickly became the foundation for the beautiful relationships with which I was blessed during my travels. I was fascinated by the girls’ responses to the literature and began jotting down my observations and findings every night upon finishing our story hour. After sharing my notes with a Xavier professor, Dr. Teresa Young, we began writing an article with the hope of publishing in a children’s literature professional publication. While the article never found a place in any of our desired publications, it is an interesting reflection on the importance of authentic literature when working with children of any background.