You can read a lot about a person by with what they choose to decorate their walls. Photos of family members might suggest close ties, wooden carvings might point to the likelihood of a world traveler residing there. Similarly, you can read a lot of a school’s values by what the director and teachers choose to put on the walls– student art, a mission statement, inspirational quotes, bible verses, etc.
In the Dominican Republic, the Ministry of Education requires schools to have an exterior wall or fence enclose school campuses. Edify has partnered with several schools to provide access to capital to finish such walls which also help to create an environment of security and peace where students can learn apart from busy thoroughfares and commerce.
In AMO –a holistic method of teaching built upon biblical foundations– teachers learn that a Christian education can be a wall itself. Earlier in August, I sat with a table of school teachers as we discussed how a Christian education can fortify those inside to be able to be agents of love and compassion in and outside the wall. This wall is made up of individuals whose role it is to embrace and raise and educate a child–parents, teachers, administrators, neighbors and church family. These components link hands and fingers and hearts to surround a child with the nutrients necessary for growth. When the child grows, (s)he learns that this wall is not a crutch but a community. (S)he learns not to hide behind this wall but to see it as a place be fed and feed. (S)he is taught to also bring others into the fold.
When we visited a few schools in July, I paid special attention to the outside walls of the schools. Some depicted painted cartoons encouraging students to complete homework assignments and to invest in their futures. Others displayed God’s promises in beautiful script. The intentionality of the images and words tells a lot about the school’s story and the director’s vision. When I think of conditions for learning (good ventilation, light, recreation space, etc) I count the need for illumining text and images among some of the most important.