A teacher with deep roots in Killeen is getting a chance to share her knowledge around the world.
Sarah Crawford, an agriculture and floral design teacher at the KISD Career Center, is set for a short-term mission project later this week that will take her to a remote village in India for seven days. Following her first overseas flight that will span about 19 hours, she will spend a week living in a school with no electricity or running water.
Friends and family who share her calling to assist teachers living in deep poverty have fully funded her trip. She is using personal leave time to go on what she considers an opportunity of a lifetime.
She will be working with teachers who are Indian nationals with little or no formal training in a field that she knows well.
The 1995 Ellison High School graduate and 16-year Killeen Independent School District teacher began her trek last year during the Killeen Livestock Show.
A professional livestock photographer she has known for years, Willie Gomez of Waco, pulled her aside and began telling her a story that intrigued her and ultimately drew her in.
“He started telling me about his trips to India and his desire to build relationships with people and to start a school. I was caught up in what he was saying,” she said.
Gomez is the president of the board of directors of Global Banjara Baptist Ministries International, an organization that oversees a school of 300 Banjara students roughly from kindergarten through fifth grade.
The Banjara people are descendants of European gypsies and number about 70 million worldwide. They work as subsistence farmers, living in extreme poverty and not officially recognized in the country’s caste system.
Crawford is one of two educators on the trip. In contrast to the teachers she will be serving, she is highly educated. She earned a degree in animal science from Angelo State University. While teaching agriculture, first at Shoemaker High School, then at Ellison High and finally at the Career Center, she earned another 30 hours college credit to become a certified teacher.
Crawford teaches advanced animal science in the Career Center’s veterinary assistant program and floral design. She is also a KISD mentor teacher.
The trip to India, she said, is connected to her passion for education and to her Christian faith. “I am excited to see how the classrooms are run,” she said. “I know the system is completely different. It is so rudimentary and I’m excited to see that and to do something I’ve never done before.”
She expects to be able to instruct teachers in skills like taking attendance and tracking student progress to help the school better document its operation and be more accountable to supporters. “I’m nervous not knowing what to expect. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” she said. “I’m honored I was asked to go. For someone to say ‘I think you can help us’ is very humbling.”