International visitors from Africa visit Muskogee Early Childhood Center

Godwin Chirambo, right, director of early childhood education for a school in Malawi located in southeastern Africa, interacts with Aria Newell, left and Amaya Lewis on Monday at the Muskogee Early Childhood Center. He is being hosted by Presbyterian congregations in eastern Oklahoma for several weeks visiting a variety of institutions.

Staff photo by Mike Elswick

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Educators around the globe face many of the same challenges of coming up with creative ways to engage youngsters in the learning process while stretching the funds their institutions allocate for the teaching process.

That concept rang true on Monday as educators from two continents met in Muskogee to share ideas and learn from each other at the Muskogee Early Childhood Center. Center Director Malinda Lindsey, her staff and students played host to educators from Malawi, located in southeastern Africa.

International visitors from Africa visit Muskogee Early Childhood Center

Godwin Chirambo, an early childhood educator from the southeastern African country of Malawi, visits with Muskogee Early Childhood Center teacher Geri Bryant and Malinda Lindsey, center director, on how teachers at the school use a variety of recycled materials in the classroom for instructional projects.

Vincent Kalua is director of education at a school in Malawi, while Godwin Chirambo serves as director of early childhood education. Both are associated with the Church of Central Africa and are visiting for several weeks in eastern Oklahoma visiting a variety of spots, said Jeff Cranton, pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Muskogee.

Cranton was playing host to the African educators and said in addition to visiting schools in eastern Oklahoma, the pair also has visited museums, ministries and other locations.

International visitors from Africa visit Muskogee Early Childhood Center

An example of recycled items parents of students at the Muskogee Early Childhood Center provided line a shelf in a hall at the school. The items will find use in a variety of instructional projects, from art to learning how to count.

Lindsey told the guests that parents often bring items from home and donate to the school for student recycling use. Those items vary from plastic soda bottles made into colorful chandeliers to an artistic rendering of a Christmas tree constructed from an old stepladder decorated with used lights and topped with a star made of the cardboard tubes from used paper towels.

"We like to share because that makes us all better," Lindsey said. 

She guided Chirambo and Kalua through a typical day at the school with teachers starting the day out with required learning with the Muskogee Public School's literacy rotation tasks and then moving on to other interactive learning activities.

International visitors from Africa visit Muskogee Early Childhood Center

Malinda Lindsey, director of the Muskogee Early Childhood Center, shares ideas on using recycled materials in instruction done by the center's teachers with Godwin Chirambo, center, and Vincent Kalua, both visiting from the southeastern African country of Malawi.

Lindsey said to help stretch the school's budget, teachers share a variety of learning tools by rotating instructional materials and moving students from a variety of areas. The rooms vary from a music room to one focused on learning basic science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM topics.

"We share a lot. We don't buy resources for every single classroom. We've grown beyond that and know we can stretch our budget better by sharing among classes," Lindsey said. "If we had to buy all of this for every classroom, we'd never have enough money to go around."

Reach Mike Elswick at (918) 684-2954, @melswickMPhx or


This Week's Circulars