Photograph by Jill Anderson
Noteable: Nneamaka Enechi
Nneamaka Enechi, Ed.M.'11, currently teaches at Brooke Charter School in Boston. She is founder of Edvigor, a nonprofit teacher-training program launching this summer in her home country, Nigeria.
Program: Learning and Teaching
Mission: To quietly empower teachers by deepening their content and pedagogical knowledge-base through targeted, hands-on professional development.
It's a familiar story: A child of educators aims for a different career from her parents only to realize that her path is leading her exactly where she thought it never would.
"I was positive I didn't want to be a teacher," says Nneamaka Enechi, Ed.M.'11. Still, after college, she found herself teaching elementary English in Lagos, Nigeria, as part of the National Youth Service Corps, a compulsory year-long program for new graduates in Nigeria. "You wouldn't believe my surprise when I caught myself actually enjoying teaching!" she says.
And it grew far beyond that. "I developed a deep sense of responsibility not only toward my students but towards the greater education system in my country," she says, noting her belief that many social issues plaguing Nigeria can be addressed through education reform.
Enechi came to the Ed School to refine her understanding of teaching and learning, and to learn about what makes a successful school system, all with an eye toward bringing her knowledge back to Nigeria and building her own school. But one school, she came to realize, wouldn't accomplish the larger goal of improving Nigeria's education system as a whole.
"The key [to reform], in my opinion, lies in the right type of teacher training and in ongoing teacher professional development," she says.
So she founded Edvigor, a nonprofit that aims to provide Nigerian teachers with the mentoring and professional support they are lacking. The idea — professional development summits organized in different parts of Nigeria and taught by experienced teachers from around the world — stemmed from Enechi's own experience as a new teacher at Brooke Charter School in the Mattapan section of Boston, where new teachers prepare for their own classrooms by spending one year learning from experienced educators. "I took part in this program and cannot overstate how beneficial it was for me," says Enechi, who currently teaches second grade at Brooke.
This summer, Edvigor will launch with seminars led by a group of visiting master teachers — including Enechi — in two states in Nigeria. The theme will be "Teaching Literacy in Lower Elementary" and will aim to enhance the participants' understanding of fundamental literacy concepts and also to give them strategies that will improve their teaching of literacy in their classrooms.
"These teachers, who have no professional support whatsoever, are motivated by a remarkable commitment to improve the lots of their students," says Enechi. "My goal is to provide these unsung heroes with the professional backing they need to improve their teaching."
If successful, Enechi's long-term plan is to create a network of lab schools with immersion programs in which aspiring teachers learn through working closely with experienced teachers within the schools, similar to the program she participated in at Brooke.
"Good teaching is the key to a child's success," she says. "And the truth is that, with the right training, good teaching can be replicated; great teachers can be made."