Volunteer Karen Cotter keeps it UP from a distance


Universal Promise calls on scores of supporters, both in South Africa and in the United States, to carry out the mission of education for all in Nomathamsanqa, South Africa. At this very moment, staff on two continents are all abuzz collaborating on a kitchen renovation for 750 students as well as the designing, furnishing, and purchasing of materials for four unprecedented spaces in the brand new Academic Centre: a library, science lab, arts studio, and music & dance space.

On top of that, as the infrastructure renovations wind down at Vusumzi Primary School (after a crazily fruitful seven years that brought an impressive range of improvements, from a state-of-the-art computer laboratory to clean water), the professional development focus is ramping UP.

Educator and student mastery of the Internet, hands-on lessons plans, and differentiated learning are taking center stage in the VPS evolution, and we are devoted to supporting the educators and learners 100% as they take on these increasingly creative and rewarding methods. So, to whom did we turn for support as this exciting movement unfolds? Career educator and administrator Karen Cotter!

Karen traveled with UP in March 2017 as a triple threat: an Uphuhliso sponsor, a crafter, and a professional development expert. Based on her impact in 2017, we thought Karen would have a wealth of knowledge, and we were right. In short order, Karen created a VPS Google Sites domain, which highlighted an immediately applicable collection of interactive classroom activities and teacher-support websites. VPS educators have already begun to utilize the site to move outside the classroom to explore the nuances of soil and the qualities of water. Those online resources will only expand in August 2018, as UP volunteers work with VPS educators to add to the VPS Google Site Karen created. In the name of sustainability, that is, in fact, UP's and Karen's wish: that the educators take control of the site and put their thumbprint all over it.

UP offers its sincere thanks to Karen for immediately saying "YES" to our plea and to going beyond the call of duty. Karen has clearly kept the South Africans in her heart, and we are grateful for her ongoing volunteerism, even from thousands of miles away. Now we will turn to her for an Ilizwe Empowerment crafting project. That is the beauty (and danger) of being a triple threat, dear Karen.