Associate Professor, Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations
Teresa Wasonga is grateful for ignorance.
Without it, the NIU Presidential Engagement Professor in the Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations probably wouldn’t have built and opened the Jane Adeny Memorial School (JAMS) for girls in her native Kenya.
A school is just walls, right? What else could it need?
JAMS is the result of those questions.
She remembers asking parents to have faith, that sending their daughters away to JAMS was “better than this situation – they were not in school at all – and that we couldn’t do any more harm than society was already doing to them.”
On Day One of classes, Wasonga gathered her young pioneers.
“I told them, ‘Let’s just give it our best shot. This is your chance. This is an opportunity. We will buy books. We will study. We will work hard, and we will succeed,’ ” she says. “I looked at these girls, and they were so empowered. I thought, ‘They will do whatever it takes. Now I can’t disappoint them.’ ”
The Fulbright scholar researches school leadership with a focus on democratic leadership, school improvement and social justice, as well as institutional factors that determine success or failure in Kenyan secondary schools.