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From Grandmas to Yogurt: 5 Unexpected Education Superheroes

Educators of all sorts are saving the world every day. Here are five education superheroes that are sure to surprise and inspire you.


 

Since early 2020, educators have been striving to continue reaching their students despite all obstacles. These teachers have taken learning beyond Zoom and the classroom and rightfully earned the title of “education superheroes.” Around the world, many communities are innovating to expand access to education and support the growing minds of tomorrow’s leaders. Whether it’s knowledgeable grandmas, scientific yogurt, or useful trash, we’re sure you’ll want to know about these five education superheroes you may not have heard about:

Education Superhero #1: Grandmas

An older woman with her arm around a young girl; part of an innovative education program training grandmothers as teaching assistantsPhoto: The Grandmother Project, Inc.

Grandmas in Senegal are empowered to be involved in their grandchildren’s education both at home and within the school setting through this innovative education program by The Grandmother Project. Since 2008, more than 1,500 grandmas have gone through grandmother-teacher workshops to be trained as teaching assistants. While the original goal was to infuse cultural values and traditional knowledge into school curriculum, involving grandmas has also resulted in higher school attendance and student performance, especially for girls. Read more about how The Grandmother Project is promoting education and preserving culture.

Education Superhero #2: Fruit Trees

Children gathered around a newly planted tree as part of Fruit Tree 101's innovative education program to create orchards in schoolyardsPhoto: Fruit Tree Planting Foundation

The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) is creating outdoor, edible classrooms for schools around the world. They do this by planting fruit tree orchards in school yards. Students and teachers use an environmental curriculum from FTPF that includes information about planting and caring for the trees. These orchards are an innovative way to provide schools with beauty, nutrition, clean air, and a shaded outdoor space for environmental education. See pictures from their orchards around the world.

Education Superhero #3: Animals

Young boy holding a baby mongoose; A part of DAKTARI's innovative education program teaching local kids about animals and the environment.Photo: DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage

In South Africa, the Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage welcomes eight local students each week for hands-on environmental education. Students learn about their rich natural environment through lessons and activities, including caring for injured and orphaned animals, like a mongoose or a cheetah named Martin. Through their experiences, students are empowered to protect their environment and possibly to pursue careers in ecotourism. Learn more about Daktari Bush School’s innovative program.

Education Superhero #4: Trash

A young boy holds a bag of cans and bottles by a tire wall, part of an innovative education program teaching kids to transform trash into community infrastructurePhoto: Long Way Home, Inc.

The Hero School in Guatemala engages students in 7th through 11th grade in community infrastructure projects that repurpose trash into structures that benefit local families. These projects have included dry compost latrines for safe waste management, water tanks to store water underground, and retaining walls to prevent landslides, to name a few. By participating in these projects led by Long Way Home, Inc., students learn problem-solving and community service skills, and communities have less waste and better infrastructure. See more projects using trash to fight the climate crisis.

Education Superhero #5: Yogurt

woman holding containers of fresh yogurt, as part of an innovative education program for kids with disabilitiesPhoto: Special Families Saint Julie Billiart

The Special Families Saint Julie Billiart foundation in Nicaragua supports families with children who have disabilities. While their main operation is a school for these kids, another of their programs, Yogurt con Amor, produces yogurt, cheese, and granola to feed students and to sell to support their programs. Making and selling the yogurt teaches young people with disabilities about the workplace, giving some their first experience with a job and co-workers. Learn more about how they’re using yogurt as a force for good.

Celebrate education superheroes

Education changes lives—for individuals, families, and communities. In this way, educators are saving the world every day with every lesson. Celebrate these superheroes by supporting their initiatives.

Find a community-led education project you can support.

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Featured Photo: Give a Vietnamese child a helmet; save a life by AIP Foundation

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