DBU Alumna Plans to Move to Liberia

Elaine Saba

The West African country of Liberia, founded by the U.S. as a colony for freed slaves in 1822, sits along 423 miles of coastline with beautiful palm tree dotted beaches. More recently, the nation has witnessed the deaths of hundreds of thousands in two violent civil wars (1989-1997 and 1997-2003) and was later immersed in the Ebola Crisis of 2014-15. In 2018, USA Today ranked Liberia as the poorest nation in the world. Despite ongoing efforts of national reconstruction, a major epidemic and hindrance of development in Liberia remains the lack of literacy and quality education.

DBU alumna Elaine Saba has been traveling to Liberia regularly since 2012 to train teachers to be more effective in the classroom. Her most recent visit was to set up an after school tutoring program for 12th graders who were taking the national test. Elaine tutored over 100 students, with only a few assistants, for eight days over a period of two weeks. Both assignments were at the request of the Mayor of Paynesville, Pam Belcher-Taylor, an innovative servant leader who considers literacy to be a top priority in Liberia.

Elaine started her teaching career in Houston ISD before relocating to Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Katy, Texas, where she served for 11 years. Then, moving again in 2003 she taught in Mansfield ISD until her retirement in 2016. Six months later, she began working as a tutor and mentor to teachers of Ft. Worth ISD, until this past May when she sensed the Lord calling her to move to Liberia to continue serving the improvement of its educational system through leadership training.

The tools Elaine has used in serving Liberia's deep educational deficit were obtained from completing her master's degree at DBU. "The decision to acquire a degree in curriculum and instruction was made after returning from my first humanitarian trip to Liberia. God impressed upon me that I needed more skills to enable me to help the teachers efficiently. The next step was deciding on the institute where that purpose was to be fulfilled. I decided to visit Dallas Baptist University."

Elaine was particularly struck by the friendliness of the students and staff members on her first visit to the DBU campus. "Dallas Baptist University had a culture of affinity for kindness, and I wanted to be a part of it!" Years later, with her master's degree at DBU behind her, Elaine says she now feels "fully cloaked and armed with an arsenal of knowledge to help teachers become better educators. I now have a better idea about what constitutes good teaching. During my studies here at DBU, I learned about effective teaching strategies, the various ways students learn, and how to assess students' learning from expert teachers. I plan to use the knowledge gained from this institution to help the teachers in Liberia."

As she contemplates her upcoming move to Liberia, she knows the challenges are great, the risks are high, but she is confident the reward will be worth it. "The move to Liberia will be huge for me. I have been in the U.S. for almost forty years. Kindly help me by praying that I will adjust or readjust to a lifestyle that I have been away from for a long time. As you pray, intercede for me that I will be successful in helping to change the trajectory of education in Liberia."

Written by Dr. Michael Whiting

Dr. Michael Whiting is Assistant Professor of Christian History and Leadership at Dallas Baptist University.

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