For the past several years Keela Dates, Executive Director of Reason2Smile and daughter of Marcellus Athletic Director Brad Dates, has visited schools throughout New York State sharing her vision and her mission in support of the Jambo Jipya School in Kenya, Africa. Reason2Smile is an organization dedicated to providing immediate and long-term financial support to the Jambo Jipya School, located in the center of Mtwapa, Kenya. The school was founded and is directed by Christine Mwende.
Mwende began the school in 2004 with one mud hut and 20 students in attendance. Today, thanks to support from organizations like Reason2Smile, and the dedication of Mwende and Dates, the school has over 300 students and 12 concrete classrooms.
Dates visited Katrina Ercole's 5th grade class at Driver Middle School on Nov. 23 and presented students from Sandy Carey's 5th grade class along with Ercole's students with an overview of the Jambo Jipya School during Dates' first session. Using power point, Dates spoke to the geography of the region, the Swahili language, the weather and the culture of the people. In addition to sharing the progress made by students at the school, Dates discussed why the school only employs Kenyan teachers, as they talked about the common language, cultural literacy, proximity, and most importantly "the Kenyan teachers provide a role model to each student that says you can achieve anything that you want," Dates said.
Dates also shared what a typical day for a Jambo Jipya student would look like.
"Students leave for school about 5:45 a.m., often walking two hours to get to class," she said. The daily schedule involves instruction in math, science, English, Swahili, physical education, art, music and library. Students receive snack and lunch and also participate in a variety of after school activities before beginning the trek home at 5 p.m.