Published on July 24, 2018 by Sara Roman  
Terra Nova
Faculty and students at Terra Nova School in Kampala, Uganda.

When Orlean Beeson School of Education Associate Professor Amy Hoaglund decided to establish an elementary education program with a concentration in Christian missions, she was  uncertain what it would look like, but was certain that there was a need and that she was called to respond.

Her desire was to create a program that would provide the academic rigor and preparation necessary for graduates to successfully prepare children and youth scholastically and spiritually.

According to Hoaglund, there are limited academic opportunities for students that adequately prepare them to spread the gospel through the vehicle of education.

Hoaglund’s vision was to create a program that would prepare students to serve in traditional and nontraditional educational settings. Providing strong traditional field experiences in Alabama was not a daunting task, but Hoaglund desired to provide students with an internship experience abroad. Identifying an environment where students could develop culturally relevant teaching standards and pedagogy was at the forefront of Hoaglund’s mind. However, identifying a safe school, funding travel, confirming housing arrangements and ensuring that teacher supervisors were qualified were some of the hurdles she had to address before establishing a global placement.

In 2017, Hoaglund connected with Alisha Damron-Seruyange, who founded Terra Nova School in Kampala, Uganda. The Samford School of the Arts graduate contacted Hoaglund requesting help in curriculum development. “As we talked, it became clear this was the global setting we were looking for,” said Hoaglund.

In June 2017, Hoaglund traveled to Kampala to provide more than 30 hours of professional training in comprehension, phonics, English language learning and instructional strategies for Terra Nova’s teachers. She also delivered more than $1,000 in books and materials from the Alabama Reading Association. 

While in Uganda, Hoaglund and Damron-Seruyange identified five teachers who would benefit from more intensive leadership training. Upon arriving home, Hoaglund worked with fellow Samford professors to apply for the Hull Grant for Seminar Development and was awarded the grant. The funds will allow the five selected teachers to continue online training throughout the year and travel to Samford University to become trained instructional leaders.

“We had established a foundation for a mutually beneficial partnership, but we still needed to find an allocation of funds to allow for student travel,” said Hoaglund. “I felt in my heart that this was the place and that the Lord would pave a way.” 

Throughout the program’s development, Hoaglund shares that she has had Christ at the center. “I believe that I am called to prepare educators who have the desire and ability to infect cities around the world with hope by providing children with high-quality literature, instructional resources, an excellent education and the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Hoaglund. “An exceptional education and the knowledge of the love of Christ offers possibility, hope . . . life.”

Hoaglund says she has continued to pray Ephesians 4:1-4, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call.”

In spring 2018, she received confirmation that former Samford professors Carol and Joe Dean wanted to make a scholarship available for Samford teacher education students to complete internships in developing countries. Their generosity will allow for elementary education Christian missions students to travel to Kampala and complete a six-week field experience at Terra Nova.

“Field experiences like this not only develop our student’s pedagogical skills, but also empower them to go out confidently and replicate after graduation,” said Hoaglund. Throughout the progression, Hoaglund states that she stands in awe of the hand of God and is thankful to everyone who has answered their call along the way.

As seen in the 2018 summer issue of Seasons Magazine.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.