Second-grade Teacher Focuses on Empowering Students in Kenya and Philadelphia

Second-grade Teacher Focuses on Empowering Students in Kenya and Philadelphia


Twenty-one-year SCH veteran Mary Ann Domanska, a 2nd-grade girls teacher, recently returned from a professional development and service experience in rural Kenya where she worked with the Maasai people of Lemong’o and students at the Belgrove Primary School. Her trip was funded through a grant from the Agnes and Sophy Dallas Irwin Foundation (ASDI), which supports teachers in any pursuit that provides opportunities for renewal, reflection, and personal growth outside the classroom.

Thanks to a fortuitous encounter with a Springside alumna, Domanska learned about The Lemong’o Project, a nonprofit “dedicated to empowering the Maasai people of Lemong’o in rural Kenya through the improvement of nutrition, access to education, health support, and employment opportunities.” Having met the founder and executive director of the organization, Carolyn Tague ‘80, during Alumni Weekend 2023, Domaska drew on her previous service work and more than two decades of teaching to support the Maasai people.

“I wanted to have the opportunity to travel to the village of Lemong’o and spend time at this school getting to know the children, and offering my own teaching experience,” she said. “I also wanted to find a way of helping the school by potentially providing funding for teacher salaries, art materials, and appropriate teaching resources that might be lacking due to funding constraints and availability.”

Empowering the Lemong’o students, she says, will also help her guide and empower her 2nd graders at SCH in the years ahead. In fact, it’s already happening: Teacher Eliza Culp's CEL Gifts For Good project this year with 2nd graders raised over $2,000 for The Lemong'o Project with the help of families. The funds will help to pay the yearly salary of another much-needed teacher at the primary school. 

“Finding meaning and purpose helps sustain us as passionate and motivated educators,” she says. “Exposure to cultural differences has widened my perspective and provided memories to last a lifetime.”

Above: Mary Ann Domanska (center, right) with Belgrove Primary School teacher and students.

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