In August of 2016, Principal Ronnie Bradford asked his Leadership teacher EK Slaughter about partnering with a school in a third world country. Slaughter took this idea to his Leadership One class and discussions and exploration of possible areas started.
On September 5, 2016, our community was hit hard with the tragic death of one of our own. Katie Beth Carter, class of 2016 and former leadership student, was killed in a car accident on the way back to Jacksonville State University Alabama, after spending the Labor Day weekend with her family and friends. The Heritage family was in shock and the grief was crippling. Katie was a light to so many and that is what we tried to stay focused on as we mourned the loss. Katie’s heart to serve others along with her passion for children and dream to be an educator would become her legacy.
The leadership class knew of some work that Lamar Brown, Director of Student Services in Catoosa County, had been doing within Nicaragua so we reached out to Lamar and asked for some guidance. Through the relationships that Lamar had with people in Leon, Nicaragua, Lamar directed us to a local, Jeremy Barcenas. At that time, Jeremy had just began working with one of the poorest communities in Nicaragua, Tomas Borge. Tomas Borge sits just a few miles outside Leon, Nicaragua on what was formerly the site of Leon’s city dump. Approximately, 6000 families live in Borge and like many other impoverished areas, they lacked the basic resources needed to rise above their circumstances. Jeremy was trying to help the people of Borge but the needs were great.
We learned that just weeks before Jeremy and Nicamerican Missions had purchased 9 acres in Tomas Borge. By the end of October a new relationship was started and Impact 2 One was created. We discovered the first need for the community was a school. We inquired if we provided the funds to build the school if we could have the honor of naming it. Jeremy enthusiastically said yes and the dominoes began to fall. The leadership class got busy creating their mission statement and raising financial support from our community for this endeavor.
By the beginning of January of 2017, we had raised $60,000. On February 17, 2017, ground for Katie Beth Carter Memorial Institute was broke. Throughout the year we watched s construction progressed and relationships were formed. HHS brought its first team of teachers and students on April of 2017 and another in December of 2017.. By the end of 2017 the department of Leon MINED (ministry of education) had approved the school license but we still have to go through the necessary steps with the national MINED. With the lengthy process required to acquire the school license the decision was made to make the official opening date for the school be February of 2019.
In January of 2019, the Katie Beth Carter Memorial Institute opened it’s doors to two grades and over 55 kids! With a talented staff and a heart for the Lord, the Katie Beth Carter Memorial Institute has seen success in 2019 and has partnered with other programs to provide special education services through Stanley’s Kids and job training through One Mission Mercantile.