Jennifer Watson

Last fall, the Teacher Leader Master of Arts program at Georgetown College moved all of their courses online to meet the needs of our geographically diverse students in Kentucky. Little did we know that a current Teacher Leader student would actually use this new format to finish her program in another continent.

Jennifer Watson carried her education and experience at Georgetown College with her to Kenya, where she teaches 10 year olds. Below is her story.

Jennifer Watson, shown here after graduating from Georgetown College, now teaches 10-year-olds in Africa.

How I Got Here
I first visited Kenya in July of 2010.  I’d wanted to come here for as long as I can remember, and I finally had an opportunity.  My aunt helps run a mission, Village Project Africa, in a small village called Makutano in the northwest part Kenya.  The mission has a school, (among many other things), so I came to spend three weeks with her just to help where I could.  During that time I fell in love with Kenya.  God had given me a heart for these people, and upon returning to the States, all I could think about was getting back here.  The staff at VPA is entirely Kenyan, other than my aunt, which is one reason it’s working so well.  But that being the case, I knew they’d have no need for me in a way that would pay a salary or warrant a work permit from the Kenyan government.  I figured if I could just get inside Kenya, and find a way to provide for myself, it would provide the chance for me to visit the village more frequently than I’d be able to if I remained in Kentucky.  So I began to look around.  Oddly enough it actually took me a while to realize that teaching could be my way in!

After inquiring with some people who had connections here, I was told of Rosslyn Academy.  I applied in October of 2010, prayed about where God wanted me through November and December, and was hired in January 2011.  I arrived on campus on July 16, 2011 to teach 5th grade.  (Prior to being here, I taught six years in the Fayette and Clark County districts in Kentucky.)  Rosslyn is an international Christian school in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.  Nairobi is a city of roughly 4 million (give or take a million or two–the census counts aren’t real accurate), and Rosslyn is a private school with over 600 students from Pre-K through grade 12.  Our students are children of missionaries, diplomats, aid workers, and international business men and women, just to name a few.  Their religious backgrounds are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist…the list goes on.  However, Rosslyn is an outstanding school for academics, and even though we are unapologetically Christian in our approach to everything on campus, families of other religions are choosing our school, which makes my classroom a whole new type of mission field!

As a side note, while I completed my first year of teaching here, the professors at Georgetown were so understanding in enabling me to complete my degree.  There were missed Town Hall meetings, occasional internet outages, and a 7-hour time difference, but all were so gracious and encouraging in their approach to helping me.  That really meant a lot.

This year I have 18 students in my class, and collectively they’ve lived in 23 countries–by the age of 10!  It has been an amazing place to work, and I’ve been privileged to be able to travel within the country, visiting Makutano four times last year, the Masai Mara game reserve, Mt. Suswa, the coast of the Indian Ocean near Mombasa, and Garissa near the Somali border. I’m beginning the second year of my three-year contract, and I have no idea what God has in store for me next.  I do have the option to renew my contract here, so we’ll just wait and see!  For now I’m thankful to be in a school whose administrators and parents value and support their staff, where the focus ISN’T on high-stakes testing, and where I can have meaningful conversations about my faith with students every day!

That is the short version of the how and why…if you’d like to get a bigger picture, the first post of my blog gives a lot more detail.