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Teacher leads team in creating sister school in Senegal

Local residents celebrate as the first walls of a new school are installed.

A few years after Massiga Seck arrived in Indianapolis from Senegal, the special education teacher now at the Newcomer Program for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), began dreaming of partnering with his new employer to create a school in his native country.

That vision of creating a sister school in partnership with IPS in the western African nation is coming closer each day as Seck leads the planning process with a contingent from the Newcomer Program, which provides newly arrived English language learners with a unique learning experience designed to fit their academic and language development needs.

“I am helping build a modern school that will allow Senegalese youth the same academic chance as most developed countries,” said Seck, who taught in his native Senegal before immigrating to the United States and enrolling in the Indianapolis Teaching Fellows program. “Having served both teaching settings and environment, I have realized that Senegal’s education system is far behind, as far as technologies and teaching resources are concerned, to promote an equitable chance for success as in developed countries.”

The unsuitable learning conditions have made it so difficult for the students to find a career path which led to mass immigration and drop in overall enrollment. Plans call for the new school to start later this year or in early 2023.

“When I was a teacher in Senegal, I met a very smart kid who had all the chances to succeed and, who knows, bring his brick of change to the world,” said Seck. “Unfortunately, poverty, lack of resources, not being in the right school setting, demotivated him. He left school at an early age and ended up as a welder to support his family. Many children like him discontinued their education for situations like this.”

In addition to creating a GoFundMe page, Seck’s team also is partnering with Feed the World Save the World, a non-profit organization that wants to uplift humanity to a better lifestyle by providing food and shelter to those in need and prioritizing good education in most remote areas of Africa.

Teachers joining Seck from Newcomers is Mirac Ozkir, math; Tracy Prescott, music; and Shelia McPhearson, physical education. Members of the group ventured to Senegal over the winter holiday break to review the site of the new school.

Seck believes that the partnership with IPS will benefit both student communities by creating intercultural awareness, debunking the stereotypes about Africa, increasing global awareness, building a deeper understanding of one’s own culture, creating cultural program exchange and providing opportunities for foreign exchange between the two schools.

“Our project will provide students authentic learning opportunities through engagement with students from other cultures, to build language and intercultural capabilities in a purposeful way,” he said. “This will also impact IPS students by realizing that they are given a great chance of success in their studies compared to third world schools and they should be grateful for this.”