The Excellence Academy

Creating Master Teachers Celebrates Belay Simeon,
Principal of The Excellence Academy

DSC09581-300x225Picture-005-480x300I was introduced to Belay Simeon while visiting Hosanna, Ethiopia, a rural town approximately a 6 hour drive south of Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa. That drive, as I experienced it, alternates between long, straight stretches covered at breakneck speeds to halting advances through dense clotches of meandering cows or goats.

The circumstances of our meeting and my visiting Belay Simeon’s school are a reflection of the way he approaches his mission as a private school principal. Always eager to provide his teachers and students with opportunities to expand their knowledge and experiences, Belay asked me to come to his school within 10 minutes after a chance meeting. I had explained I was in Ethiopia to visit some primary schools and share reading instruction methods. He shared with me that he wants to create a culture of books and reading in his school and he wanted to know how soon I could come to meet his teachers.

DSC09580-300x225DSC09577-300x225At 3 o’clock the next day I was on my way in a small local conveyance to the Excellence Academy, a K to grade 6 private school that serves 278 students and sits on just under 27,000 square feet of rented land. When I reached the common room the staff was waiting for me. Belay had gathered his teachers for an impromptu workshop on the teaching of reading.

1-480x300Belay Simeon was born and raised in Hosanna, the capital of the Hadiya Zone with a population of over one and one half million people. He received his masters degree from Addis Ababa University in Educational Policy and Planning. His family, particularly his father instilled in him a love of books, learning and a calling to help others. His guiding philosphy: “Think globally and act locally.” That philosophy is Belay Simeon’s call to action. While mindful of the United Nations eight Millennium Development Goals for 2015, the second of which is achieving Universal Primary education that ensures all boys and girls complete a full course of primary education, he has extended his efforts and energy as a progressive educator to include the following:

  • Invitee of Kansas State University to guest lecture at the annual conference of the Kansas Association of Teacher EducatorsPicture-006-480x300
  • Instructor at Hosanna Teachers’ College, Hawassa University and Addis Ababa University teaching courses for school directors, supervisors and teachers
  • Initiated the formation of the Hosanna Teachers’ Reading Association
  • Instituted a summer reading program at the Excellence Academy
  • Instituted an after school reading program
  • Cultivates a reading culture in Hosanna by collecting traditional stories to be shared with parents and children
  • Established read aloud programs for students with volunteers from the American and British Peace Corps
  • Partnering with the One World Club that engages students in his school with students in American schools

Principal Simeon has been recognized by the Hadiya Zone Education Department for all the efforts he has made to benefit the education of all.

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