During Hockaday’s first Day of Service in 2013, Dr. Tererai Trent inspired Hockaday with her story of unlikely educational achievement, perseverance and determination to better the schooling in African communities. And Hockaday’s mission to educate and empower women moved Trent in return.
“Hockaday girls have become my own giants,” Trent said. “Ever since I spoke at Hockaday, they have been in my heart.”
Just a year after having Trent speak at Hockaday, the school has done a number of things to try to remain connected with her, including community service that directly benefits her foundation, Tererai Trent International. And the initiatives have worked.
Through Tererai Trent International, Trent is advancing a “community-wide literacy boost” by means of an after-school reading program.
“We want to encourage the culture of reading within the community,” Trent said. To continue the thriving partnership, Trent asked Hockadaisies to get involved.
After Trent’s visit, Lower School art teacher Shelley Hampe created illustrations inspired by her story. Hampe and Director of Inclusion Community Tresa Wilson worked together to compile the illustrations to read like a children’s book and gifted it to Trent to thank her for her visit.
“Dr. Trent was touched by the gift and months later contacted me to see if there was a project that we could work on together,” Hampe said. “It took some time, but with the help of Mrs. Wargo and Ms. Wilson, this opportunity to have the Hockaday girls work alongside [Dr. Trent came about].”
Beginning this year, students selected through an application process will work under the mentorship of Hampe, Wilson and Trent to write poetry and create illustrations that will eventually come together as a children’s book that will appeal to children globally.
And Trent is allowing the students to take ownership of the book’s content.
“I am leaving it up to Hockaday girls, who are the authors of the book,” she said. But she revealed a goal she hopes to achieve through this book: “I would like the book to help young readers make an emotional connection with the world around them and learn about empathy and compassion for others.”
Wilson emphasized that a prevalent theme she hopes to be found in the book is empowerment, specifically in females. “It’s about becoming great women who know that they can do anything and everything, whether it be stretching yourself or creating something you never thought would be possible,” Wilson said.
Students will help through every step of the process—from brainstorming, writing and illustrating to marketing and accounting. “Through research, the girls working as marketers will determine the best methods in advertising the product,” Hampe said. “During this process, accountants will have to make sure the team stays on budget to maximize the profits [which will then be donated]…”
The book will be sold at Hockaday, in Africa and hopefully, as the program grows, in other parts of the world. Proceeds will directly benefit the Matau Primary School in Zimbabwe. Primarily, it will go towards increasing after-school reading opportunities for children and aiding Trent’s goal for community-wide literacy. Money will also be put towards constructing a cafeteria at one of the community’s primary schools. “The cafeteria will provide nutrition to 1,050 hard-working primary students,” Trent said. “For many of these children, this will be their most significant meal of the day.”
Hampe and Wilson received over 50 applications from students who wish to collaborate in this project. They hope to announce their selections today and will begin to lay out dates for production. The goal is to have the book published sometime in 2016. Hopeful for the outcome of the book, Trent said, “I know Hockaday girls will make the magic happen.”
– Sydney Yonack, Social Media Director