Born and raised in Kenya, Robert Ondere's impoverished community still managed to hold school for its children. As a young student, Ondere was responsible for sweeping the dirt floors before classes began. These early educational experiences did nothing but spur on his respect for learning and a belief that all children deserve access to a good education. Thousands of miles away from Kenya, Ondere has honored these commitments as an outstanding high school mathematics teacher. Currently at Lugoff-Elgin High School in Lugoff, SC, Ondere shares his experiences in Kenya during his classes, often offering up cliffhanger stories of his life in the beginning of class, and not finishing them until the students have completed the day's assignment.
Ondere's classes stand out from a typical math course for other reasons as well. He has adopted technology-enriched lessons with wireless writing tablets, interactive whiteboards, Powerpoint, Excel, flipcharts, Interwrite software and virtual calculators. Ondere says of his chosen career: "Teaching is a noble profession in which its members are able to reach out to young people by trying to help them acquire the principles, tenets, and skills necessary to succeed in the modern world." To keep his students on track, Ondere creates weekly progress reports for them and spends extra time before and after school to offer tutoring off the clock. For his endless generosity, Ondere is beloved by both students on faculty alike. When his fellow teachers discovered that Ondere had never celebrated a birthday before, they raised $500 to throw him a proper celebration, complete with a party and birthday gifts.
2000 Kenyatta University, B.S. University of South Carolina, M.Ed (Teaching)