We Will be Known by the Problems We Solve–20 Liters

20LClean water is a problem worth solving in Rwanda. If interested, World Relief may be the organization to partner with to make it happen as they are providing clean water filtration systems to hundreds of people. Here is information about their work putting together their systems and after reading I encourage you to support their cause at https://20liters.org/give/


  • The average residence holds 6 people
  • 1 out of 7 children die in infancy
  • 2% have electricity
  • 89% attended primary school, but only 8% attended secondary school
  • 80% live on daily subsistence farming
  • Less than 1% have running water
  • 71% use the Nyabarongo River or local ponds as their primary source of water

Fly into Kigali, Rwanda on a clear day and you’ll see that the lower the altitude, the lower the income. The hilltops are the places for the newest, most expensive homes; while the valleys hold the slums. It’s like this because here there are no sewers, and there’s a lot of rain. City runoff and drainage flows down from the hills to form valley streams—streams from which the poor collect their water.

In an age when water catchment and filtration technology exists in abundance, much of the drinking water in Rwanda is unsanitary. We see its effects in the health of the most vulnerable. The childhood mortality rate in Rwanda is about 1 in 10, due to the prevalence of water-born disease.

Yet, this sad reality does not have to be. In 2008, 20 Liters in partnership with World Relief Rwanda began working in the Rwandan sector of Masaka to bring filtration solutions to those most vulnerable there. Masaka is located about 30 minutes outside of Kigali, Rwanda and was selected as the initial place to begin their work after a cholera outbreak killed nearly 500 people there in 2006. An underdeveloped rural area also hit hard by the 1994 genocide, over half of Masaka’s 35,000 residents are 18 and under—with 6% of children having no surviving parent and 22% having one deceased parent. Since 2008 20Liters has additionally added a second project at Gahanga, a small sector to the west of Masaka, Gahanga is inhabited by 19,632 people across 41 villages. Located near to the Nyabarongo River, some within this region only walk a 1/3 of a mile, while others in the Gahangan villages must walk up to 1.2 miles to the closest swamp or river to collect water—water that will make them sick without a filter. With no hospital in their district and only 1 health center, that can create a lethal situation. 20 Liters work in this region began in June 2012 and will run through September 2013, with the majority of their efforts focused on the installation of SAM 3 filters. Visit 20 Liters 3-year-plan to learn more and see how you might partner to solve this solvable problem.

20 L

Thought from Rwanda

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it.”  “Well, why don’t you ask Him?”  “Because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.”


IEE Teacher Training in Rwanda

IEE and Bend-La Pine Schools get to work.

IEE and Bend-La Pine Schools get to work.

On our way to school site visits outside of Kigali.

On our way to school site visits outside of Kigali.

School welcome.

School welcome.

Classroom observations and feedback.

Classroom observations and feedback.

Continuing on to our second school site.

Continuing on to our second school site.

Students at second school site visit.

Students at second school site visit.

Our work certainly attracted attention.

Our work certainly attracted attention.

A time of reflection at the Genocide Memorial.

A time of reflection at the Genocide Memorial.

Genocide Memorial in Kigali.

Genocide Memorial in Kigali.

Mass graves at Genocide Memorial in Kigali.

Mass graves at Genocide Memorial in Kigali.

Bend Educators Lend Expertise to Rwandans

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

Published Mar 11, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated Mar 11, 2014 at 06:17AM

A cadre of Bend-La Pine Schools administrators and teachers will make what has become an annual trip to the central African nation of Rwanda for spring break.

The self-funded teacher training mission is led by Assistant Superintendent Jay Mathisen, who first went to Rwanda in 2010 while still a George Fox University School of Education doctoral student. At the time, his goal was to help some professors with a master’s program they were developing, but in the end, Mathisen said he only made it to the school’s campus once. On his first night in Rwanda, he had dinner with another American who was training local teachers in instructional techniques to help mentor other teachers.

“I invited myself to hang out with them for the rest of the trip, and found myself on the back of motorbikes going to schools for a lot of the time,” Mathisen said. “I just really loved it.”

The trip sparked Mathisen’s dissertation, which examined the 1994 Rwandan genocide’s impact on three education reform movements. Near the end of the document, Mathisen concludes, “The impact the slaughter had on the education systems was immense, and continues on in some regards today.” He offers recommendations, but acknowledged they “do not include simple answers to the complex nature of those challenges.”

Despite these challenges, Mathisen has stayed committed to helping ameliorate some of the issues faced by Rwandan educators, in particular the lack of access to research on the latest teaching techniques. Since his first trip to Rwanda, Mathisen has become the organizer of American assistance for the organization he helped in 2010, the International Education Exchange (IEE), a Rwandan-led group that provides professional development to teachers. While there this year, Mathisen’s goal is to help train the roughly 40 Rwandan instructional coaches whom IEE sends to 80 schools serving more than 80,000 students.

“Because of Jay’s vision, we have been able to help hundreds, maybe thousands of teachers,” said Karen Stiner, a High Desert Middle School teacher who went on last year’s trip. “It’s changed me profoundly to have gone.”

Stiner describes the trips as a chance to put “research into action.” But she also noted that even the best pedagogical techniques can’t overcome some of the disadvantages faced by Rwandan educators.

“They have class sizes into the 70s, very little to no resources, and from third grade on, English is the only language taught, so there’s a high need for second language (instruction),” Stiner said, referencing the great linguistic diversity in the country.

Nonetheless, Mathisen said, “You can still work with teachers to get kids to think and talk in groups about a task even in a room with that many kids.”

“When I went in 2010, it was chalk-and-talk education,” Mathisen added. “And the lectures were in English, which plenty of kids couldn’t understand. They would copy the symbols and try to memorize them, but they didn’t grasp the content. By now the teachers who work with IEE are thinking about how to get students to think about tasks and engage in problems. You can tell the difference right when you walk in between an IEE school and one without that help.”

Going on this year’s trip are Bend High School Principal H.D. Weddel, Weddel’s wife Patty, a kindergarten teacher, and their two children; Highland Magnet School Principal Paul Dean and his wife Mary; Executive Director for Curriculum and Instructional Technology Shay Mikalson; Bend High science teacher Kathleen Yaeger; and Mathisen’s wife Shannon and the couple’s two children.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, tleeds@bendbulletin.com

The Best Idea Wins–Regardless of Who Shares It

Status and title in schools should not matter when it comes to problem solving.

That’s why we debate ideas, not people.

Because in the end, the only thing that counts is the best idea.

All Management is People (Trust) Management

Adapted for education by Robert Hess from Deming’s book: Out of the Crisis (1986)

1) Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service. Everyone in the organization must have the same purpose and work together toward that purpose.

2) Adopt the new data-driven philosophy. Everyone in the organization must adopt the new philosophy—all decisions are based on facts and data rather than opinions. All decisions and improvement efforts are based on expertise, rather than authority.

3) Cease dependence on mass inspection. It is time-consuming for managers to inspect the work of employees. Inspections do not improve quality and are not cost effective. Quality does not come from managers inspecting the work of employees—it comes from managing employees in ways that encourage them to monitor and inspect their own work. People will strive to do quality work where trust exists.

4) End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag alone. You get what you pay for. If you purchase poor quality parts, those parts affect other parts. The organization is a system. One part affects others.

5) Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service. Everyone in the system must constantly be looking for ways to reduce waste and improve quality. In education, waste includes time spent on unproductive activities or less-effective teaching strategies. Service in education is focusing on the needs of students and meeting those needs in more effective ways. Giving people time to think and talk about their work and methods is essential to constant improvem ent.

6) Institute Training. Inadequate training is an enormous waste. There should be continual education and improvement of everyone on the job—self- improvem ent.

7) Institute Leadership. Leadership is not supervision but rather finding ways to help teachers improve. Leadership consists of enabling employees to find joy in doing quality work.

8) Drive out fear. This is an essential element of Deming’s philosophy. Fear is the enemy of innovation and improvement. No one puts forth his or her best effort unless he feels secure. The inverse of fear is trust. Management must relentlessly eliminate anything that inhibits risk-taking, collaboration, and improvement. Fear keeps people from experiencing the joy of labor, which is essential if we want people to do their best work.

9) Break down barriers between staff areas. Teamwork is essential both within and between units. Teamwork requires workers to compensate each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Many minds equate greater knowledge and thus higher quality production. Trust and communication between management and employees ensures efficiency and constancy of purpose. The elimination of fear is essential to the trust that must be obtained for such communication to occur.

10) Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce. Slogans are simplistic. Targets can create fear and a tendency to manipulate the system, to strive for quantity instead of quality. What is important is promoting continual improvem ent.

11) Eliminate numerical quotas or targets for the workforce. The only proper use of data is to help employees to perform better and to take pride in their workmanship. Quotas and targets are not necessary and they tend to limit improvement to a minimum standard. The use of data must never, ever be used to place blame on any employee or group of employees. It is only to provide useful knowledge with which to consider training needs, to adjust methods and processes, and to improve on the way we do things within a system.

12) Remove barriers to pride of workmanship. Management must systematically remove anything that interferes with the pride people take in their work—the most vital but intangible element of quality and improvement. The “joy of labor” is central to Deming’s philosophy and is based on his conviction that people’s desire to do good work and improve is largely intrinsic. Poor performance is not a result of laziness or irresponsibility but rather management’s inadequacy at dispelling fear and at finding ways to ensure that employees are allowed and equipped to do their best work.

13) Encourage education and self-improvement for everyone. There is no shortage of good people—only a shortage of knowledge and skills. People are afraid of new knowledge because knowledge leads to change. One of management’s vital tasks is to help employees overcome the fear of new knowledge. All advances will have their roots in knowledge—in what people learn through training and coaching as they participate in discussion, read, and attend conferences. Ongoing training is essential to professional growth and personal fulfillment.

14) Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job: Teamwork, building consensus, and using everyone’s respective expertise is what makes the restructuring possible. People often know what to do, the problem is that we simply fail to do it. It must be everyone’s goal to make the change to quality.

Two Roads Diverge

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I

I took the one less traveled by.  

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

The following post was adapted from Chris Lemma’s 40 Mantras.

Let’s imagine I walk into a gym. I pay for three years up front – because if I do, that gets me some extra benefits. One of them is three free weeks of working with a physical trainer. They’re going to help me get fit and strong, with six-pack abs.

I see the money come out of my account. I’ve paid them. But I never get a call. And I never go to the gym. And I never work out. And as the weeks go by, people are noticing there are no sick-pack abs.

Now imagine that I complain about it all. Because I thought it was the personal trainer’s job to get me strong and fit. Imagine my friends heard this kind of complaining.

Do you think they’d agree that it’s someone else’s fault?

Not likely.

My health, my fitness, my six-pack abs are a function of the work I do. With or without a trainer. With or without a gym. It’s not someone’s job to motivate me enough to care enough to work out enough to get healthy or fit.

It’s my own job.

We all know this, right? I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But what’s so easy to see in fitness becomes harder to see in professional development.

You know who’s in charge of your own professional development? You.

I know you could give me tons of reasons why your district doesn’t give you the time, doesn’t buy you the books, doesn’t sign you up for the online courses, and doesn’t send you to enough conferences.

I don’t care.

You’re either going to have five years of experience where you keep growing and getting better, or you’re going to have one year’s experience five times in a row.

Read that again. It’s really important.

And you know who’s in charge of making sure you’re growing during each of those years? You.

Because you know who’s in charge of your development? You.

Hope Is Not A Strategy

Secondary Graphic.001

Theory of Change– Our theory of change links our beliefs, vision and mission to graduate every student college-prepared and career-ready. We are creating the conditions for success within every classroom, program, and school.

If we,

  • transform human capital by ensuring there are effective employees at every level of the organization focused on improving student outcomes;
  • give our students and parents a portfolio of high quality school choice; and
  • hold ourselves accountable through strong performance management;

Then, every student in our schools will graduate college-prepared and career-ready.

The Instructional Core– The instructional core is the very heart of our service to students; it is about the connection between the teacher, the student and the content of learning:

  • Expanding teachers’ knowledge and skill;
  • Providing academically challenging content and tasks; and
  • Fostering highly engaged and life-long learners.

Strategies– Strategies refer to the set of common sense approaches we will use to support the instructional core to help every student achieve his/her maximum potential:

  1. Transform teaching and learning so that all youth graduate college-prepared and career-ready.
  2. Ensure there are effective employees at every level of the organization focused on improving student outcomes.
  3. Provide a portfolio of high-quality schools for all youth, families and communities.
  4. Ensure a safe, caring, and nurturing environment for all youth.
  5. Operate an effective, efficient, and transparent organization in order to assure the public trust.

Teaching and Learning Foci– Our teaching and learning foci are the specific and timely actions we will take to improve student achievement:

  • Transition to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics so that content, teaching and learning is focused around concepts and skills to help students develop a deeper understanding and apply their knowledge.
  • Ensure that all students graduate with nine college credits and the option to enroll directly into a college/university and be prepared for a career by implementing our College and Career Readiness Through Equal Opportunity initiative.
  • Continue our focus and refinement of our Educator Growth and Development system to achieve our goal that every student will be taught by an effective teacher, every day, in a school led by an effective school leader, surrounded and supported by an effective team.
  • Implement a Digital Conversion strategy to ensure students have equity and access to a personal computing device and high-quality digital resources and educational content anytime/anywhere.

Supporting Elements– We serve all students and their families with a commitment to success. Our Supporting Elements hold the promise that every employee will work in the best interest of students.

  • Stakeholders – Ensure that we are engaging our parents and communities to support students.
  • Culture – Ensure that everything we do is focused on the success of our students.
  • Strong Performance Management – Ensure that we constantly review data, with a focus on performance over conformance, to deliver the promise of all youth achieving.
  • Resources & Systems – Ensure that we will run an efficient organization at every level.