Teaching the Teachers

Teaching the Teachers

Sister Jacinta Ojilimmobe, SNDdeN, teaches modern methods of Montessori to teachers at her school in Nigeria.

Sister Jacinta Ojilimmobe is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur of the Nigeria Province. But don’t tell that to Sisters of the Ohio Province, who feel she is one of their own.

Sister Jacinta spent almost three years as part of the Julie Hall Community in Cincinnati while completing her bachelor’s degree in education at Xavier University, followed by a master’s degree in educational administration, also at Xavier. In addition, she studied Montessori education in hopes of establishing more child-centered, practical and activity-oriented education in Nigeria.

Sister Jacinta celebrates her graduation with her community at Mount Notre Dame.

Through the course of her studies, Sister Jacinta maintained the highest marks. This despite not being familiar with American educational practices as they relate to writing and critical thinking, not knowing (at first) how to navigate the expressway system of a major American city, and having to overcome the hurdles and interruptions of the pandemic.

“She’s exceptional,” says Sister Mary Ann Barnhorn, an Ohio Province Sister and close friend who still keeps in touch via email and WhatsApp. “She studied assiduously not so much to pass tests as to pass along what she learned.

“Yet she always made time for prayer. She always made time for her Sisters. We all became her friends.”

Sister Jacinta is in a long line of African Sisters participating in a 16-year partnership between the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and Xavier. The partnership allows Sisters of Notre Dame from Africa to receive a Jesuit education while residing with Sisters in Cincinnati. Through this experience, both the formal education in college and the informal education of living with teachers, African Sisters are able to bring new kinds of instruction to their home provinces, instruction that breaks with traditional rote-style learning – and rote-style teaching – that by necessity was for so long the only kind of instruction possible.

And Sister Jacinta is doing exactly this, breaking that tradition.

She is now principal of a nursery and primary school in Nigeria. But according to Sister Mary Ann, Sister Jacinta feels she is also responsible for the continuing education of teachers, especially in modern methods of education and Montessori.

“She saw her Xavier education here not so much for her as for what she could bring back to her country,” says Sister Mary Ann. “I see her as an educational leader.”

First published in the 2022 Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Ohio Province Annual Report, November 2022.