Joanne Allan: A Heart for Missions
Our incredible Trinity teachers continue doing incredible things over the summer. While school is not in session, many spend their time diving deeper into their fields of expertise, giving back to their local communities, and pursuing missions abroad. One such person is Trinity Lower School Math Specialist Joanne Allan. This summer, she is working with Teach Beyond, a Christian organization that partners with teachers and schools around the world to provide Christ-centered education to poor communities.
Mrs. Allan volunteers specifically in the Teacher Education branch of the organization where she is currently co-leading The Sparrow Project, a seven-module curriculum for teacher education at under-resourced schools. Mrs. Allan has been working with a group of five other individuals from around the world on this project, and the first cohort of teachers is set to launch in Ethiopia this November. In Ethiopia, many schools are without basic resources such as chairs and pencils, and there is almost no pedagogical training available. The Sparrow Project aims to fill this gap.
“We try to be missional without hurting. That means we don’t go in with a godlike complex, but instead, try to see what they need and help them discover how to help themselves,” Mrs. Allan said. “So, for this particular project, we’re going in and offering teacher education, with the goal to alleviate poverty. If we can train them in a way that is culturally appropriate, then they can take the bare nuggets of it and start training out, and it multiplies.”
Mrs. Allan has been an associate member of Teach Beyond for a few years, but her heart for missions began long before that. In the 1980’s, she taught at a missionary school in Ethiopia during the Ethiopian famine. After that, she met her husband, and the two of them went on to live in seven different countries where she served as director of a missionary school in Nicaragua, got involved in missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and led mission teams to the refugee camps on the Thai-Burmese border. Even this summer, apart from her work at Teach Beyond, Mrs. Allan started another mission project called “Sew to Grow.”
She had received a note from her sponsor child in Ethiopia saying that she would have to drop out of school to forage for her family so they could afford to keep their house on the dump heap. Mrs. Allan knew that dropping out of school would not only leave the 13-year-old girl uneducated and in poverty, but it would also increase her risk of falling victim to human trafficking. That’s when she had the idea to begin a sewing project to teach young girls how to earn money by sewing and selling their goods. This idea expanded to include baking, haircutting, woodworking, coffee roasting, and more. Mrs. Allan’s church, Christ Church Vienna, eventually picked up the project and now owns and funds it.
“Ever since I became a Christian, I’ve had a heart for missions,” she said. “I’m not afraid to travel and I have a passion to serve. I see the potential, and God has given me the desire.”
Mrs. Allan’s passion for service extends to her Trinity classroom, where she seeks to prepare students to go into the world and serve too.
“Trinity is a discipleship school, so it’s about preparing and equipping students to do God’s work,” she said. “I always intentionally say I’m serving as the math specialist. I don’t see my work at Trinity as a job, and when it stops being missional then I have to recheck and recalibrate. I am preparing these students for a life of service that’s how I see it.”
About the Author
Jo Wilbur is a Marketing and Communications Specialist at TCS and proud JMU grad who loves writing, shopping, and making new friends. She and her husband live in Paeonian Springs and spend time together cooking plant-based meals, singing worship songs, and volunteering as Young Life leaders in their community.