Sunday, June 13, 2010

90boxes of books, 15 ready to ship. One more week till Ghana

So, one more week till I fly to Ghana (leaving on the jet plane, but I know exactly when I will come back again, August the 12th). Red eye flight (zzzzzing...and some book reading). Anyways, it total, this spring, about 90 boxes of books were donated, approximately 75 of them from Sutherland alone, teachers, students, and the library collection. Which means, from Sutherland Middle, there were about 3100 books, with 1003 books from just one teacher's classes, Mrs. Benham. Thank You Rachel Benham!
The rest were donated from younger students at my Karate academy and kids from my church. Of these 90 boxes, I will be shipping about 15 today, Monday the 14th to arrive first week of August. The 9 boxes I shipped early April will be arriving this week to join the ones I sent in last fall November. Which means, when these 15 boxes arrive in the summer, there will be a total of approximately 28 boxes of books sent across the ocean.

Here's a picture of some of the boxes. 90 boxes roughly equals to 4500 books. I also collected school supplies, pencils, pens, color pencils, crayons, notebooks, things the Ghanain students and teachers could use that students here are giving up for the end of the year.
Have a great summer and thanks for the donations, SMS SCA and several colleagues! I'm certain the students of Nana Kwaku Boateng primary and Junior High will be very appreciative.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Summer 2010 (and the future: Daniel Torkornoo Memorial Library)

This summer of 2010 I will be returning to oversee the project. There are currently 22 boxes for the library. I will be helping to organize the books, but first I need to buy some bookshelves. 3 will not suffice.

My goal was to collect more books, especially elementary level as the studens showed such passion during the dedication. I had started for the Junior high but the little ones seem very interested as well.

In comes Sutherland Middle School, my new teaching location in Charlottesville. When I shared the news with the students and teachers, they generously donated several of their old books. In one week, I gathered 25 boxes from students, teachers, and parents. One class was shooting for 1000 books, which they reached in their second week. As of now (June 1), I have over 40 boxes of books over a duration of 3 weeks (just from the Sutherland community). With 2 more weeks left of school, I can only imagine the number of books that will be flooding in. My guest room is being inundated with children books.

My challenge is now finding a way to send them. Of course all these won't fit in the small metail trailer and the 3 bookshelves so I called the principals (with whom I talk quite frequently). We've decided to move the location to a bigger structure (albeit not built yet). I've also decided to share some with the public library which servees more students. As of now, the school has more books than the public library itself and perhaps even the private schools.

How about the naming of the library. I've refused to put my name on it, but agreed to put another's. I've decided to name it after my grandfather who fought in WWII and who introduced me to the school in the first place.

The library will now be called "Daniel Torkornoo Memorial Library." This next part I usually keep to myself. After deducting the two carwashes and donations, the library cost me a little over $1500 to establish.

Throughout the summer I will be updating the blog with new stories and new pictures.

Summer 2009 (The beginning)

A little background about libraries in Ghana. This is an estimation. The town of Koforidua (where the school is located) has a few public schools perhaps 20 and about 5 private schools. To my knowledge the private schools have libraries but not the public schools. There is also one central library. The public library (with about 15 shelves half-filled with books) serve the whole region. I was determined to make the Nana Kwaku Boateng my alma mater the first public school to own a true library.

So...when I returned to Virginia I collected some books in my middle school (Amherst Middle). I gathered approximately 12 boxes of books and after a successful car wash (with the help of a parent of and 6 dedicated Algebra students) I was able to mail 2 boxes of books, very expensive by air. There were 10 boxes left here but too expensive to mail so I sent money for them to buy books in Ghana and a book shelf.

In the summer of 2009, I returned to Ghana with 6 boxes worth of books, total of 8, but without a book shelf, nor a structure for a library. I looked around and found a metail trailer they were using for storage. After 2 weeks of requests and petitions, we were granted permission to use it. With less than 4 weeks left, I hired carpenters, electrician, and a painter and they transformed the decrepit trailer into a library filled with a carpet, tables, chairs, 3 book shelves, electrical system with lights, 4 fans, 3 computers (bought with the help of another car wash), and a few good locks to secure it. They now had a complete library with 8 boxes of books (about 300 books), painted and decorated with educational posters.

Before I left, over a period of 2 weeks since construction finished, they had checked out and read 80 books. My next goal was to bring more books, buy more bookshelves and computers.
When I returned, I sent 5 more books in the fall, then 9 more followed in the spring. That's a total of 22 boxes.

Going back in time (Rewind 3 years to summer 2007)

In the summer of 2007, I visited Ghana. It had been 10 and half years since I left. The last school I attended before leaving was Nana Kwaku Boateng Junior High School. It was the top public school and a magnet, very hardworking students and dedicated teachers. I left while still the school prefect.

When I returned, I decided to visit the school and teach some lessons in Math. At the end of one lesson, I realized some students were done with nothing left to do. I thought to myself, "what did I use to do when I completed my work?" I would borrow books from my friends and I read a lot. I borrowed so often and read so much that my old friends would get upset and exclaimed they weren't a library. So, I asked them if they had a library to which they replied no. I then had the idea to send them books and start a library. Needless to say, they were very excited as were the teachers.

P.S. Gifty was then a science teacher at the school. Little did I know 3 years later, she and I would be the VIP's of a beautiful Gold and blue themed wedding!

Introductory Post

Hello friends. My name is Louis Torkornoo, an Algebra teacher at Sutherland Middle School in Charlottesville, VA and formerly Algebra 1 teacher and soccer coach at Amherst Middle. Just recently, a parent of one of my students suggested I create an online blog where people can follow the progress of the library I started in Nana Kwaku Boateng school in Ghana, Africa. Enjoy and thoughts/ideas are welcomed.