Meet Joel Olson, our Education Adviser and Technical Consultant to the Wellspring Academy in Rwanda! Since joining our team, Joel has revolutionized how the Wellspring Academy engages with parents to build the school community. We’re blessed to have Joel as part of our Wellspring family and are excited to learn even more from him as we look to use technological solutions to grow community in Rwandan public schools.
Joel completed his Bachelor of Education at Trinity Western University in 2005 and, as a mark of his outstanding work as a student teacher, received the Maxwell A. Cameron Award. After graduating, Joel worked in various schools in Langley before settling as a Grade 6 & 7 teacher at Fort Langley Elementary. He also studied at Simon Fraser University to complete his Masters of Educational Leadership K-12. His thesis topic was Using Technology to Increase Parent-Teacher Communication: The Smart Way to Communicate. Joel’s research, which paid attention to the rapid onset of technology in schools, communities, and society, has helped Wellspring as we seek to grow both community involvement and technology usage in schools. In August 2016, after connecting with Wellspring through his church, Joel and his family packed up and moved to Kigali.
“Wellspring began as a dream. Now, in reality, countless lives and entire communities are being transformed through education in Rwanda because of Wellspring.”
In his work with the Wellspring Academy, Joel advises the school leadership on how to build an engaged community. He works alongside teachers to empower them with the necessary skills to make a lasting impact in students’ lives. Joel also partnered with a local tech company to build a two-way automated SMS program to connect with parents. Since rolling this out, parent engagement in the school community has skyrocketed. Now, over 600 parents are engaged with their child’s education and students are supported both at school and at home. In addition to his work at the Academy, Joel works with our Abundant Leadership Institute to facilitate discussions and learning. His exposure to different experiences of educational leadership allows him to offer great insight in the ALI classroom.
As Wellspring moves forward, Joel will be playing a role in our expansion to the Western district of Rubavu. This rural region poses many new challenges, such as increased dropout rates and high levels of gender-based violence. Expanding to 75 new schools is no small undertaking, but we believe these schools can be transformed into vibrant learning communities that recognize each child’s dignity and worth. As Wellspring grows, Joel’s research in school communication, as well as his expertise as an educational leader, will be invaluable. Thanks for being such an integral part of our team, Joel!