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Rotary People in Action
Buckhead Rotarian Katie Cyphers and Education Cures

•	Katie and Mohamed, the 9 year old boy that truly captured Katie's heart and ultimately led to the founding of Education Cures.

• Katie and Mohamed, the 9 year old boy that truly captured Katie's heart and ultimately led to the founding of Education Cures.

•	Katie's mother, Shirley Pennebaker, a member of the Rotary Club of Lagrange, joined her this past trip to train the teachers on Brainjogging

• Katie's mother, Shirley Pennebaker, a member of the Rotary Club of Lagrange, joined her this past trip to train the teachers on Brainjogging

•	Katie and Richard Wernick, founder of Sierra Leone International Mission School, during a recent trip to Sierra Leone.

• Katie and Richard Wernick, founder of Sierra Leone International Mission School, during a recent trip to Sierra Leone.

When Katie Cyphers fortuitously met Richard Wernick while boarding a flight in Paris, France she had no idea that he would be a gateway to her finding true purpose in life. Katie introduced herself as the Executive Director of Academics Plus, a learning center in Buckhead focused on improving cognitive foundations and building lasting academic success for children facing learning challenges and differences, and Richard shared that he had founded a school in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Fast-forward eight months and Katie received an invitation to join Richard on an upcoming trip to Sierra Leone, a country that had experienced tremendous hardship due to the Ebola outbreak. That journey and a fateful meeting with Mohamed, an outcasted young boy with learning disabilities, resulted in the founding of her nonprofit, Education Cures.

As we all know, the only way we will ever cure anything is through education. Education Cures aims to be the connector in education and works to improve the educational programs of existing schools in developing countries. The team assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the partner school in order to determine what type of teacher training is most important for the children to become lifelong learners. They then ensure that the schools are connected with the right programs and curriculums to be successful. By empowering teachers with the training, curriculum and tools they need, Education Cures is forever changing the lives of the children who truly need our help the most. Kaitie says, “In developing countries, the priorities of schools are first the building, then desks, toilets, and teacher salaries. By the time these needs are met, the schools are often out of resources to truly focus on education.” Education Cures partners with schools that already have met these basic needs in order to improve their educational programs through training programs.

Katie’s team has built an Early Childhood Education Center on the campus of Sierra Leone International Mission School, which houses a preschool and kindergarten in the morning. During the afternoons the building transforms into the Integrated School for children who have never had an opportunity to attend school due to financial difficulties, learning disabilities, or physical impairments. The true purpose of this building is not to serve only a few hundred students, but to function as a master training center for educators to learn from the work of Education Cures and impact the students in their own classrooms. The teachers in EC’s program are trained in many multi-sensory techniques to ensure that all students are able to benefit from the teaching methods, even if they have a learning disability. A core component of the EC training program is Brainjogging, a cognitive processing enhancement program that synchronizes the cognitive processes, such as visual memory, eye tracking and attention, all of which are crucial when it comes to any learning task, especially reading. This past November, EC worked directly with the Rotary Club of Cincinnati to secure vision-screening kits for any partnership schools in order to ensure that teachers and clinicians have the tools and training they need to assess each of their student’s vision prior to entering the classroom. The Rotaract Club of Oglethorpe generously volunteered their time to program 100 Amazon Fires that were donated to EC to be used for English language learning programs and audiobooks.

“Being a member of Rotary has given me an incredible network of individuals that are dedicated to service above self. When you’re working in a developing country, it’s imperative that you have connections in the community. I am so grateful to each club that has assisted in this journey and to Rotary International for being an amazing outlet to help improve our communities around the world,” says Katie.

Katie Cyphers attended the University of Tennessee, where she obtained a M.S.Ed. in Learning Disabilities and a B.S. in Special Education. Katie’s professional career in education has led her to have a passion for serving those that need our help the most and is motivated to change the lives of children worldwide. Learn more about Katie’s work by visiting www.educationcures.org or following them on Instagram or Facebook @educationcures.

Posted by Jackie Cuthbert
December 5, 2017 12:03am

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