Reflecting on 5 Years

If you’ve ever taken a long family car trip, you know that you eventually run out of playlists and podcasts that please everyone. During the summer of 2014, while driving from North Carolina to Michigan, our foursome discovered the art of conversation.

We started with important matters (the preeminent Ice Bucket Challenge) and moved to trivial topics (a Sharknado sequel, really?) Then our discussion turned, as our thoughts often did, to Guatemala.

Chadd and our daughter Charlotte had just returned from their second visit to a remote village in the Guatemalan highlands. They had developed a love for the teachers and students at a school in Santa Avelina. The civil war that raged for 30 years had exacted its price, but this indigenous Maya community was committed to educating its children to be optimistic about the future.


Santa Avelina’s school librarian and a young reader welcome Chadd and Charlotte in 2014

As the two of us tossed out ideas about how to support the educational goals of Santa Avelina’s families, we landed on an enormous one — starting a nonprofit.

It seemed daunting, but nobody else was doing the work we envisioned. After weeks of pondering, we still couldn’t think of a reason not to try it ourselves. We had both accumulated years of experience teaching at all levels from middle school through college. We’d renovated an old house together, moved across the country, raised two children and four dogs — how hard could it be?

Meeting the Challenges

It turned out to be terrifically challenging, but in all the right ways. The difficulties came in measured doses. We used failures as opportunities to do it better next time. We leaned heavily on the financial support of friends and family during the early years, which taught us the limitless lesson of gratitude. People with the expertise to move T2TGlobal ahead a notch would (literally!) show up on our doorstep to join the mission.

Charlotte’s new friend loved to braid her hair

What kept us moving forward despite the bumps was a deepening awareness.

In developing countries, nobody was preparing teachers to teach well.

Barely out of school themselves, teachers were placed in classrooms and expected to lecture whether they knew the subject or not. We met a math teacher in Guatemala who discovered for the first time in our workshop that 4/8 is the same as 1/2.

Five years later, we still have yet to encounter another organization that empowers teachers in research-based, student-centered best practices in mathematics education. Our impact has reached nine countries so far, and we’re refining our programs to have an even wider reach and deeper impact.

We are floored by the excitement our mission generates, and humbled by the caliber of educators who pay their way to travel with us. Our dreams for the next five years will continue to build on this solid foundation.


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