Area charter school teachers return from mission trip to Haiti

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Karen Hardy, one of six teachers from Lake Charles who just returned from a mission trip to Haiti, said one child in particular

made a major impact on her.

“Christopher would wait in one spot for

me everyday. He stuck by me the whole time,” Hardy said about the

11-year-old 4th

grader. “Come to find out, through a translator, Christopher lost

his mother during the earthquake in 2010. I actually spoke

to Christopher through a translator and he told me that I made a

difference in his life.”

Teachers from the two area charter

schools returned from Haiti Monday after volunteering at their “sister

school,” The Genecoit

School of Excellence. The Lake Charles Charter and the Academy and

Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy are operated by Charter

Schools USA, which hosts the annual mission trip to the school.

More than 40 applicants from within the

Charter Schools USA System applied for the Passion Rescue Mission Trip

to Haiti, and

14 teachers were selected. Out of the teachers chosen, six of them

were from the two charter schools in the Lake Area — three

from Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy and three from Lake

Charles Charter Academy.

Hardy said Christopher told her that he

saw his mother in her. She promised Christopher that she would return

in March for

the next mission trip. She taught technology at the school and

said the students were amazed with the iPads and digital cameras.

Her lesson showed the students how Americans use technology on a

day-to-day basis.

“The lesson went very well, and they were just overwhelmed with taking pictures,” Hardy said.

Sommer Odom taught a math lesson in which the students made a geometrical town.

“I was speechless by how intelligent they were,” Odom said.

Odom said each morning the students would greet them at the school.

“All of the kids would run out to meet us, clapping,” Odom said. “They had no clue who we were but they wanted us there and

welcomed us with open arms. It was an eye-opening experience to see genuine love and that’s what they had for us.”

Odom said one lesson she’ll share with her students at Lake Charles Charter Academy is not to be materialistic.

“I met kids who had nothing and all they did was laugh and play,” Odom said. “It was a very touching experience.”

Menka Ardoin taught fourth and fifth grade math at the school, and she said one of her most memorable experiences was teaching

her class about fractions using candy.

“One thing that really stood out with my lesson is the kids never had Skittles before,” Ardoin said. “Just to see their faces

light up after they ate the Skittles was unbelievable, but they really understood the concept of simplifying fractions.”

Anita Barker taught a lesson on hygiene.

“It was very successful, and the children enjoyed it,” Barker said. “We also assisted the teachers with their daily lessons

and we assisted them as well.”

Barker said it was emotional because everyone was so welcoming.

“We were like one big happy family out there,” Barker said.

Skye Duhon, who taught third graders in Haiti, said she was surprised by the age range of students in her class.

“I could have kids that were 8 years old or kids that were 13,” Duhon said. “It was based on ability which is way different

than it is in the states.”

After fundraisers prior to the trip, the teachers were able to raise $2,000. With that, the teachers bought school uniforms

for 225 students as well as the 12 teachers and administrators.