Presenters at the Transformational Education Albania conference included four from TeachBeyond. Pictured are David Midwinter (right) and Becky Hunsberger (second from right). Not pictured are Cheryl McDonald and Andy VanderLaan.
By David Midwinter | UK National Director
Transformation comes in many forms. Sometimes it explodes on the scene, drawing attention to the radical change that it has brought. More frequently, however, transformation happens in small increments. A shift in perspective that seems small and insignificant in itself can, over time, change the entire course of one’s journey. This is the kind of transformation that TeachBeyond presenters saw happening during the second annual Transformational Education Albania (TEA) Christian Educators’ Conference last month. The conference attracted nearly 200 Christian teachers, most of whom work in public schools.
As one presenter, Becky Hunsberger, coordinator of Teacher Education Services, relates, “I always embed Christian values and perspectives into my workshops, and find ways to highlight these as I am talking with teachers. During this conference, several of the participants approached me to tell me that they had never considered the Biblical implications of their practice. They were inspired by this approach, and amazed at the way that even instructional practices could be vehicles for living out their faith.”
TeachBeyond members from GDQ International Christian School in Tirana also were presenters at the conference.
Transformational Education Albania, TEA, began in 2016. A group of Christians in Albania came together to pray about starting a Christian school, but out of their planning meetings came a vision to begin a movement that would start Christian schools across Albania to transform the nation. Albania is beset by problems of corruption and so transformed hearts are greatly needed.
Peter Regez, Regional Director for Europe and Africa, was involved in the first planning meeting and he then asked me to become TeachBeyond’s representative for this movement because I have a long association with Christian ministry in Albania. The first step was to plan a conference for Christian teachers. A small group of us met in Tirana in January 2017 and as we planned this first ever conference for Christian teachers we hoped we might attract 30-40 people to attend. The event was held in April 2017 and 105 people came. Others were refused a place because the venue could not take any more. Becky Hunsberger presented some workshops at that first conference which I was unable to attend.
The development of Christian schools has been slow because the director of TEA left Albania but now things are moving ahead again with pace. The second conference was held on April 13 and 14, 2018. In the light of the 2017 experience a larger venue was booked and 190 people attended which indicates the hunger among Christian teachers in Albania for professional development. Becky again presented three workshops and two other TeachBeyond members, Cheryl McDonald and Andy Vanderlaan, who teach at GDQ school in Tirana, presented workshops as well. I had the privilege of doing one of the keynote addresses.
TeachBeyond’s work in Albania is growing rapidly. We have had a long-time partnership with GDQ school and in 2016 we signed a recruiting partnership with a soon to be open school in Luzhne. A school in Lezhe approached us for partnership two months ago and this will soon be finalised. In addition to this we are heavily involved in the startup of a new school in Durres which we hope will begin in 2019.
These are exciting times for the development of transformational education in Albania. TeachBeyond will be working very closely with TEA. We have the same vision for Albania and therefore will seek to work together as things develop.
Please pray for God to guide and lead all who are involved.