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The making of CHIPUKA


Former Lake Oswego resident opens educational center in East Africa

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Heather Nabb poses by the CHIPUKA CENTER in East Africa.A former Lake Oswego resident is rallying the community around a project in East Africa.

Heather Nabb earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Lewis & Clark College, teaching math, English and social studies in Tanzania, Africa, shortly after graduating from the Graduate School of Education and Counseling in May 2011.

After two years of teaching, Nabb found herself frustrated with how the school she taught at focused on increasing enrollment to boost tuition revenue, rather than on ensuring the students were academically successful.

She decided that if kids — and adults — needed help learning English, she would provide it to them. This October, she plans to open the Center for Helping Inspire Progress through the Unification of Knowledge and Ambition, or the CHIPUKA Center. CHIPUKA means “to sprout” in Kiswahili, also called Swahili, the native tongue of Tanzania.

Nabb had an open house in June for the educational center and is planning a fundraiser for the venture in September.

“I want to fill the gap where kids aren’t being supported, by giving that English as a second language support that we value so much in America,” said Nabb, who attended Lake Oswego High for her junior year.

The CHIPUKA Center will offer tutoring for primary and secondary grades, community language workshops, college counseling and educational assessment for possible learning impairments. So far, six students have enrolled in the educational center.

“I’m a big advocate of giving a child an individualized education,” Nabb said. For example, “if a child is a visual learner, you can use blocks.”

She said individualized education is difficult to do in a large classroom setting.

Robin Peterson, the on-site clinical psychologist, will serve as a consultant to administer relevant educational assessments. Peterson also is the mother of Nabb’s boyfriend.

“By working with children at the CHIPUKA Center, we hope to design suitable testing instruments as well as specific educational plans which will meet the needs of the children,” Peterson said. “We then intend to offer professional development workshops for teachers who are interested in special needs education, sharing our experience and knowledge to meet the needs of Tanzanian children in the academic setting.”

Nabb currently is in Lake Oswego visiting her father, and he is supporting her efforts to plan the fundraiser for the CHIPUKA Center, scheduled for Sept. 5 at Union/Pine, a Portland venue. There will be a silent auction featuring original ceramic works by renowned artist Baba Wagué Diakité and a marketplace with handmade crafts such as beaded booties for babies and beaded sandals for adults.

Heather Nabb’s father, Nate Nabb, has stood by her side, helping the fundraiser come together.

“I’m just full of enthusiasm for her, and the whole family is absolutely behind her, and I know that she will be successful because I don’t think that she’s going to back down from the opportunity and her dream,” Nate Nabb said.

Heather Nabb’s mother, Barb Nabb, also is excited and proud.

“Heather is a shining light and beloved by all whose lives she touches,” she said. “Since she was a child, I knew Heather was destined for great things, a born leader.”

Heather Nabb began her career as a student teacher at schools including Cleveland High in Portland, where she spent a year teaching U.S. history and international baccalaureate cultural and social anthropology classes.

“Heather is very energetic and passionate about teaching, which made her a good partner to teach with for the year,” said Lynne Gardner-Aller, a Cleveland High School teacher. “She was open to learning new ideas about how to teach curriculum as well as how to teach to various student learning abilities. She was also highly professional and treated her experience as a student teacher with integrity and respect.”

Gardner-Aller added that Nabb is committed to working for social justice in education.

“She saw an opportunity that she could help improve the schooling system in Tanzania in her own way and acted upon it,” Gardner-Aller said of the CHIPUKA Center. “I think it’s awesome.”

How to attend

When: 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 5

Where: Union/Pine at 575 SE Pine St., Portland

Admission: $10 at the door

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit chipukacenter.blogspot.com.