Sunday, June 11, 2017

It Takes a School by Jonathan Starr

Somaliland is a separate country from Somalia, though they share Somalian people in common. Jonathan Starr's uncle is from Somaliland so he knew about the country and its problems. After running a successful hedge fund firm, Starr retired and earmarked a half a million dollars with the intention of establishing a boarding school in Somaliland.

He planned an education system based on critical thinking skills and preparing students for higher education abroad. The Abaarso school faced many obstacles, from identifying teachers willing to work for room and board to learning the intricacies of clan-based social systems. That he was able to establish the school at all, nonetheless be a success, is a testament to his ideals and ambition and unfailing belief.

It Takes a School is the story of Starr's struggles to build and run the school.

But the book's heart is the stories of the students. Children who were goat herders with little education or English pass the admission test, and then give 100%, achieving remarkable success in a short time. Starr was able to place his graduates in MIT, Harvard, and a host of top-tier liberal arts colleges.

I kept remembering the old commercial, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste," for these children, boys and girls, were doomed to lives as goat herders and teenage brides. And what a loss it would have been for these children of such high intelligence, dreaming of becoming a doctor or an engineer, had they never had a chance. We root for them and are inspired by them.

I received a free book through a giveaway by the publisher.