A group of people stand round a desk
Todd Jordan

Michelle Potts meets with educators (from left) Mubika Mundia, Oscar Sitali, Geoffrey Mwiinga, Peter Bwalya, Phane Hachizibe and Memory Munalula at Macha Central Brethren in Christ School.


Name: Michelle Potts

Hometown: Abbotsford, B.C. (Alder­brook Community Church)

Assignment: I work with teachers in Brethren in Christ (BIC) schools in Choma, Zambia, to learn more about their challenges and develop training opportunities. We’ve focused on phonics workshops and resources for early literacy skills, a need that fits my background and education. Zambian teachers have much more experience than I do with the challenges here — including few books, no photocopier and classes of more than 60 students — and I hope to bring them together to learn from one another.

Typical day: Workshops start with “The Alphabet Jive,” a song I used to teach letter names and sounds to my kindergarten class back in Abbotsford. We sing in English and a Zambian colleague leads the song in Chitonga, the local language. We play bingo with beans to mark the cards and talk about how teachers can use bingo for letter sounds, sight words or other material. At 2, we eat together, and by 5, I am home with my husband Andrew and our two children. We read to the children before bedtime, then read books ourselves or play board games.

“I am humbled that God is allowing me to be here and walk alongside teachers as they teach children to read.”

- Michelle Potts

Joys: Watching teachers play the phonics game we used in workshops with their students and seeing their creativity in putting together materials and games to teach other subjects. Also, the teachers have been so welcoming.

Challenge: Before January, students in second grade and up were taught in English instead of a local language — here it’s Chitonga. Now classes through fourth grade are in a local language. I’m learning Chitonga but don’t speak it well enough to teach a class using it.