Natomas Cares: Teacher’s Working Vacay in Bali

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Natomas resident Joanna Greenly spent part of her summer teaching children in Bali.

Greenly, who works as an instructional aide at Westlake Charter school, had never traveled out of the United States. She wanted to experience the world and a new culture.

“I wanted to reach outside the community and get to know the world,” said Greenly who spent two weeks in the village of Penestanan Kaja.joanna5

Penestanan Kaja is an area in Bali only accessible by bicycle and motorbike. While there, Greenly taught kindergarteners the alphabet, colors and how to relate to someone from an English speaking country.

“Children, no matter what language, are looking to adults to teach them anything,” she said.

Greenly left corporate America a few years ago to pursue a career which would allow her to work with children and fit better with her own childrens’ schedules.

She has worked at Westlake for three years, teaching first grade reading and intervention kindergarten through third grade. Greenly helps students who struggle with the curriculum and those with learning disabilities or behavioral challenges.

After her 40th birthday, Greenly said she decided it was time to give back to the world. She researched volunteering in South American countries before choosing International Volunteer HQ’s kindergarten program in Bali.

While in Bali, Greenly spent her time lesson planning, developing a curriculum and working in the classroom for three hours each day. Students’ parents would stay and watch the lessons, turning it into a community classroom, Greenly said.

“Giving back to others gives you more happiness than anything,” she said.

Greenly raised more than $1,000 in donations to pay for supplies before her trip. She took with her educational toys, classroom supplies and decorations, and an iPad for the students.

Being in Bali was also an adventure for Greenly.

“It was work hard, play hard,” she said. “I dove with Manta Rays, and climbed a volcano at 2 a.m. then taught at 10 a.m.”

Greenly is considering trip to Costa Rica next year with her 12 year- old son, Jordan, to help with a special education program there.

Westlake’s executive director Kate Burwinkle gave a personal donation to help fund Greenly’s Bali trip. She said the school focuses on cultural appreciation and celebrating differences, and that Greenly leads by example.

“Her trip inspired a lot of people to step out of their box and to help others in need,” she said. “She is passionate about global awareness and reaching out to those in need.”

Greenly’s friend Michelle Ellis contributed money for classroom supplies.

Ellis said she was not surprised to hear about Greenly’s trip, “She’s very self-less, it was as much a trip for her, as it was to help others.”

Erin Page also donated to Greenly’s trip saying it was “clearly for a great cause.”

Page said she hopes Greenly’s trip will inspire students to also give back to those less fortunate.

“She is a champion of very personal causes on a regular basis,” Page said. “I am very privileged to call her my friend.”


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