Patti Gilbert- Team Leader/President

Patti Gilbert joined TWJ 11 years ago. She is our amazing and fearless leader. Patti has a faith that can move mountains and encourages each of us to join her in that belief! Patti runs each of our monthly meetings, communicates and organizes the conference with our partners at Jamaica Link Ministries. Patti does so many things they are too numerous to mention! Patti’s main job is to guide the team each year as they step out in faith to follow her on this mission. She is truly a blessing to our team!

My name is Patti Gilbert. I have had the privilege to teach for 33 years. I have enjoyed teaching three year olds up to high school. I have been honored by my colleagues as Meadows Teacher of the Year and by a student as Minyard’s Teacher of the Week. Teaching so long, I have seen my students graduate from high school. Many of my students have come back to see me. That is the greatest gift of all when that happens.

My philosophy of teaching has two main facets. First, I firmly believe in and teach by the adage “It takes a village to raise the child.” Second, I strive to make every child successful through by providing a safe, loving environment filled with lots of fun and laughter, taking each child from where they are, and instilling in them the motivation to become successful life life-long learners.

I have been married 38 years to my wonderful husband and have been blessed with two great sons and two wonderful daughters in love. Also, I am very blessed this year to have 3 grandsons and another grandbaby on the way!!!!

I enjoy gardening, reading, playing handbells, and singing. But my greatest gift and enjoyment is loving on children and seeing success in their lives.

I have had the privilege and honor to be involved in Teaching with Jamaica for 11 years. I have enjoyed becoming friends and colleagues with the Jamaican teachers that have the same goal in mind as myself that all children are capable of success in life and have the same passion for teaching and loving children.

Donna Walsh- Vice President

Donna Walsh joined our TWJ 10 years ago. She is a passionate teacher who loves to see children grow and learn. As our Vice President, Donna goes and speaks to groups on our behalf to encourage them to make donations to TWJ. She works tirelessly to gain donations for TWJ. Donna also works to get our team inexpensive supplies that we are then able to donate to teachers in Jamaica. During the conference, Donna acts as an administrator, helping to get teachers registered, and making sure everything runs smoothly. She is a blessing to our team!

I am currently the English Language Learner Facilitator for grades Kindergarten through 6th in the Allen Independent School District. I help students become more proficient in the English language. I have also served in a support position to help students who struggle with reading and/or math. Prior to Allen, I taught Kindergarten 10 years in Lovejoy and Plano School Districts and also 2 years at Head Start. I began my teaching career at a private school at St. Jude’s Catholic Church, Rainbow Days, teaching Pre K and Kindergarten.

I have been married for 36 years to my husband John. We have 2 wonderful sons and daughter-in-laws, and 5 adorable grandchildren.

My years spent at private school showed me the joy in teaching young children. When I made the decision to go into public education I know I was lead to teach children not so fortunate as those at Rainbow Days. I was lead to Head Start to teach children from poverty homes and then Kindergarten to teach children from poverty or low socio economic homes. What I have learned is the hunger and excitement for learning does not change because of economic status. These children are fortunate to be given the same education as any child would receive from any household.

I have been part of the “Teach With Jamaica” team for 10 years. As I think of the children of Jamaica, I know their hunger for learning is the same as for any child in my classroom. The excitement and enthusiasm the Jamaican teachers’ exhibit is amazing. These teachers are hungry for knowledge, books and materials to help their students learn. It is a privilege to share knowledge with these teachers. Education is the most powerful tool against poverty.

Kathi Bingham- Secretary/ Library Team Leader

Kathi Bingham joined Teaching With Jamaica 9 years ago. She is our secretary and also serves as our Library Team Leader. As secretary, she manages our Facebook Page and helps to manage our Website. She works on registration of the Jamaican teachers, and helps out wherever needed. As our Library Team Leader she helps to collect, organize, plan, and prepare when we build school libraries in Jamaica. During the years we don’t build a library she guides the library team as they offer training at the libraries we have built and helped organize.

I was a teacher in Plano for 10 years. During that time I taught Kinder,1st, 2nd, and 4th grades. I enjoyed teaching in each of the grade levels and found something about each age that I loved, but found that I especially love teaching the little ones!

I have been married for 20 years to my fabulous husband Brad, and have been blessed with two children. Our son, Brandon, is a senior and our daughter, Karmyn, is a Freshman.

Throughout my life, I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I feel that God has given me a gift and that I should use it to serve Him and to help others. It is through him that I am able to reach and teach others. This is my 9th year as a part of Teaching with Jamaica. I feel blessed to be a part of such a wonderful group!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Britni Haskin Staff Liason

Britni Haskin joined our TWJ team 6 years ago. She was full of excitement and had a heart for missions. Britini handles our team attendance, and acts as a liason for the teachers and the Leadership Team. She introduced a cultural awareness speaker to our team, and is always thinking of ways to help our team keep the lines of communication open. She is also our Special Education Team Lead. She teaches special education and counseling during the conference. She is a blessing to our team.

I’m beyond elated to be a part of “Teaching With Jamaica” for my 6th year! I have 13 years of teaching experience, with six years teaching all subject areas in 3rd grade, as well as six years teaching 2nd and a year of teaching 1st grade.

Growing up, school was a struggle for my younger brother. He didn't seem to enjoy it much at all and often felt defeated at the end of the day. Seeing him have such a hard time is what inspired me to be a teacher. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and Special Education from Stephen F. Austin State University. Since then I have also become ESL, TOPS, GLAD, and First Steps certified. This past May, I graduated with my Master of Education in school counseling.

My favorite parts of teaching are figuring out what makes each child “tick”, developing steps for my students to achieve their goals, exhausting all resources and ideas to help a child be successful, and creating engaging and rigorous lessons for my students. However, I know that in order to do those things, my students I know that they are valued, loved, feel safe, and know that they are an important part of our classroom community.

I’m looking forward to the 2018 Teaching With Jamaica trip! It’s truly an honor to collaborate with such a diverse group of teachers and come together to combat poverty through education. The teachers and children I have the pleasure of working alongside while in Jamaica inspire me, as well as my students, in countless ways. I love seeing the thirst and passion for knowledge that the Jamaican teachers’ possess, coupled with their positive attitudes and warm smiles…they are infectious! I can’t wait to get this next year underway!

Becky Walsh - Administrator

Becky Walsh has been an important part of our TWJ team for the past 6 years, when she stepped in to help us with administration. Becky is our money manager extraordinaire! She collects all of our dues, pays all of our bills, schedules our housing, transportation, and handles all of our shipping. She also helps during the conference to register teachers, handles all of the meals we serve, and takes photos. She is such a blessing to our team!