When Robin Strickler, an American educator, married Rev. John Rustindintwarane, a Rwandan Lutheran pastor and community organizer, they began to think about what work they would do in Rwanda. In 2004, conversations with Rwandan Lutherans and educators planted the idea in Robin’s mind for a secondary school.
- The Rwanda School Project incorporates as a non-profit organization in the USA.
- We begin to learn about Expeditionary Learning (EL).
- Robin walks 60 miles in Virginia to raise the first funds for the school.
- Lutheran leaders in Rwanda meet with Dr. Karl Smith, treasurer of the Sierra Pacific Synod (region of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—ELCA) and discuss a site in Rwamagana that would bring the school into partnership with the Lutheran Church of Rwanda (LCR).
- Land for the school and the local congregation is purchased in Rwamagana through funding from Karl’s church, Bethlehem Lutheran in Santa Rosa, CA, and other donors.
- Robin teaches a free English class in Rwamagana for 9 months.
- Our first volunteers come to help and library books begin to arrive.
- LCR and ELCA partner to support Robin as an ELCA missionary in education.
- Dr. Elaine Kasimatis, Sacramento State University, volunteers for a year in Rwanda to help develop the school.
- A committee of Rwandan leaders, including Lutheran Church of Rwanda members, begin to visit government offices and develop strategies for starting a school.
- Robin and Elaine visit schools, architects and biogas sites. We offer teacher training and begin recruiting.
- With Moses Mufua and volunteer Jean Helmick to coordinate the office, we start an English Enrichment Program with a staff of 3 teachers in rented rooms at African Evangelical Enterprise and serve 23 students, all of whom have either stopped school or were disrupted from attending.
- Lutheran Educational Development Association is formed as a non-profit in Rwanda to administer the school.
- Licensed by the Ministry of Education, we start Secondary Form 1 (equivalent to 7th grade) with 24 students.
- The first four rooms of our 10-room classroom building are completed in October and we move in. The building is completed by the end of the year.
- With help from Wheat Ridge Ministries and Rotary International, we build 10 latrines, renovate a small house for our kitchen and build a chicken project.
- We have 43 students in Forms 1 and 2 and 5 teachers; we hire a bookkeeper.
- Four students are part of a Lutheran Youth Delegation that visits the USA for 2 weeks.
- We build a girls’ dormitory (Sorenson Dorm) and Wheat Ridge funds two biogas digesters.
- 72 students in Forms 1, 2 and 3 study 10 O-Level subjects with 6 teachers.
- All 16 of our Senior 3 students pass national exams and 80% are in Divisions I and II.
- Peter Mutambarungu (our history teacher) and two students are invited to visit Silverton Public School in Colorado for a month to study, teach and learn with their EL program.
With 87 students and 9 teachers, we begin our first A-Level combinations: History – Econ – Geography (HEG) and Math – Econ – Geography (MEG).
- Our Parent Teacher Association is formed.
- We build a school cafeteria (Kitao Hall).
- We begin a partnership with Segal Family Foundation.
- With the help of ELCA, we increase our water catchment and introduce a tutorial program.
- All 28 of our Senior 3 students pass national exams, with 85% in Divisions I and II.
- 8 students attend Rwanda’s first international college recruiting fair in Kigali.
107 students and ten teachers participate in Forms 1-5.
- We built a science lab building (Tally Labs).
- Girl’s Faith Encounter, a person-to-person delegation from U.S. to Rwanda.
- We began working witha Princeton in Africa fellow to develop a sustainability curriculum.
- 129 students were enrolled in Forms 1-6.
- In January, we dedicated Kitao Hall (Cafeteria/Kitchen, completed in 2013), Sorensen Hall (Girl’s Dorm, completed in 2012), and Tally Labs (completed in 2014).
- Celebrated the first graduating class of 16 students in November.
149 students, 13 teachers and a staff of 20.
- We built a 100 bed boys’ dormitory.
- Established a LEARN. EMPOWER. LEAD. Fund to help in the transition from Rwamagana Lutheran School to a university.