Part 3 in a series about the Big Truths in Assessment
Emotionally charged headlines and social media messages may get our attention by being uplifting and encouraging, or alternatively, abhorrent and shocking. But, the stories behind headlines are generally more complex compelling and far-reaching. And, so it was with Beatrice and her goat.
A small action, such as tossing a pebble into a pond, may appear inconsequential, but now and again, an unpretentious act has unforeseeable effects. More than 30 years ago, rather than a tossed pebble, a baby goat was transported to in a remote village in Uganda. A girl named Beatrice lived in this community where every day was a struggle to survive. She dreamed of going to school, but that was not possible as her family depended for their survival on the jugs of water she hauled each day from distant streams and wells.
At first, a donated goat made no sense to Beatrice. But after learning how to sell the goat’s milk and breed the goat, she and her family realized that goats could indeed be life-sustaining. Beatrice was overjoyed when she earned enough money ($20.00 per week) to attend a local school where she worked hard and excelled. In 2003 she was invited to attend secondary school in the U.S. Then, due to her hard work and determination, she earned a full scholarship to college. She tells her story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EKyIJulSRQ.
In the course of delivering her speech, she explains that her education was the result of a goal set by a youth group at Niantic Community Church. Over time, the group worked hard to raise enough money to donate one goat. On this particular year, Andrew and his friend Steve set out to raise the most money. Although competition was not encouraged, their fellowship team raised enough money collectively to send a goat to Africa. At the time, they didn’t know it was Beatrice and her family who received this gift.
You may be wondering what this has to do with pebbles, ripples, and connections. Here are a few insights:
- Today, Beatrice is a community engagement coordinator with Heifer International, helping families like hers to become self-sufficient.
- Today, Andrew and Steven, who met in preschool in 1983, are still best friends, who continue to challenge each other to achieve their goals.
- Today, the Youth Fellowship at Niantic Community Church continues their Heifer outreach.
In relation to teachers, students, and assessment, we can never know how far a droplet of kindness, encouragement, insight, or assistance will spread. In the classroom, it may mean taking a moment to clarify learning intentions, providing an alternative resource, offering purposeful feedback, or encouraging diverse ways for students to demonstrate their learning. How will you start the ripples?
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Watch Beatrice’s speech after graduating from Connecticut College in 2008 and beginning her graduate studies at the Clinton School of Public Service. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59D4UmJHzeg.
And here’s a 60 Minute’s story about the girl who was lifted out of poverty, all because of a goat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x_HMGRa0SY