From August 10th to 18th, the Take Root Center will welcome the next Visiting the World participant, Amber Collins, a native Texan turned New Yorker. A former public relations professional and 2011 Miss New York USA, Amber decided to transition to a career that focused on children, and she earned her master’s degree in early childhood and special education at New York University. Now, Amber is a special education itinerant teacher and a broker specialist at Trump Tower, two professions that allow her to express herself as a “people person.” An avid traveler and foodie, Amber will be visiting Ethiopia for the first time. Prior to departing for her trip, Amber shared her plans for her workshop at the TRC, her expectations and experiences in education.
I learned about the Visiting the World program at Seeds from its founder Atti Worku. Her passion for the children of Adama and her program is truly inspiring. What attracted me to the education program at Seeds was the emphasis on creativity and problem solving. The Seeds program is amazing because it provides children with a learning e
nvironment that nurtures their intellectual, social, and physical growth through hands-on involvement with materials and subjects that have meaning for their lives. My teaching philosophy centers around respect for the individuality of each child. I LOVE how Seeds uses individual education plans for students, and their teachers create concrete development goals that allow each child to actively participate in reaching his or her own potential. I am inspired by those who inspire others—the givers of the world. As a special education teacher, I am very passionate about giving every child quality education in the least restrictive environment that will allow them to maximize their full potential!
I am planning to do a lot of fun things with the kids at the Take Root Center!! I love early childhood literacy so I will conduct several read-alouds, introducing exciting new books to the kindergarteners and first graders with corresponding creative thinking lessons. I’m also planning to share some phonics activities that will benefit emergent readers. And because my expertise is in special education and behavioral management, I plan to meet with the Seeds teachers and share some of my tricks and special tools that make managing a classroom or dealing with difficult behavior much easier.
I can’t wait to meet the students and experience the culture of the school by seeing the Take-Root Center in action! I hope to discover many things from the teachers and students. I really want to see how the curriculum and lessons relate to their daily lives. Teaching is not just about filling the listeners’ minds with information; it’s also about helping them apply it to their lives.
I went to Africa for the first time last summer on vacation with my family. I was captivated by the modest beauty and uniqueness of the South African culture. Everyone I met in my travels around South Africa exuded so much pride for their home, and their optimism was inspiring despite the adversity many of them faced. One day, we visited a small village by the Safari Reserve and I had the opportunity to see a beautiful little school funded by the reserve that also served as a community center. It was a vibrant happy place with amazing African art on every wall, a huge green garden in the back, and plenty of friendly faces and laughter. It was truly the light of the village. I heard stories of how this school was changing the community by reducing poverty and promoting economic growth. I knew in that moment that I needed to go back to Africa one day and teach at a school like this because education truly enables people. This learning center and the TRC are a mecca of hope for a lot of African communities.
For me, this trip will also be about self-discovery since I am always looking for ways I can develop or improve my teaching skills. I have done a lot of reading but I think my life experiences as a teacher and my previous travels have prepared me for this trip. I am going with an open mind and excited to not only teach but learn and grow.