The International Educator
Jodi Lefort is an educator who has made a name for herself in the international scene. Lecturer, Writing Coordinator, President, Student Support Head, Assistant Director, these are some of the titles she has had as she has impacted education throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.From founding MENAWCA, setting up numerous writing centers and working with university students to innovating with the Takatuf Scholars Programme, Jodi has had a hand in taking education to new places in the region. She has currently made a transition in her career from Assistant Director to consultant with the Takatuf Scholars Programme. She holds degrees from Exeter University, University of New Orleans and Stephen F. Austin State University. She moved to the region as an enthusiastic 30 year old fresh out of graduate school.
Writing as a PassionJodi has a passion for writing. One of her biggest successes has been through opening writing centers. Her background in learning support led her to develop writing instruction across the region. She is a founder of MENAWCA (Middle East North Africa Writing Centers Alliance) which began ten years ago and just had its sixth conference. She has been a key component in starting from five writing centers in the region to now over fifty. As Jodi puts it, “writing centers have come up in a grass roots way.” When Jodi first began in the region, some universities did not include writing as part of the curriculum. She has helped build that and the theoretical side, establishing a culture of writing here. “It is so linked to people’s success, especially when studying English as a second language.”
Her Work at Sultan QaboosAs the Head of Learning Support at the Language Center, Jodi developed an extensive reading program using technology run through Moodle. This program was for university students learning English. “It was a tremendous experiment that worked,” she stated. As a result of running this program through the use of technology, Jodi saw students who were reading far more than required and students hanging out in the library together centered around books.
The Takatuf Scholars ProgrammeThe Takatuf Scholars Programme in Oman brought Jodi on board due to her work as Head of Student Support at Sultan Qaboos University. The Programme was started by Oman Oil company to develop leaders for the country. Jodi stated, “it is human capital development at the earliest stages.” Jodi’s main role with the program was curriculum development for the summer residential program which brings in faculty from all over the globe. The summer resident program is focused on developing 21st century skills and competencies.
Innovation in the ProgrammeThe CEO of the program has stated that the programme, “reflects the Takatuf Oman values of diversity, respect, innovation, responsiveness and creation of value.” Jodi sees innovation as “creative thinking in the programme and thinking outside of the box.” This is seen in the resident program that she has developed where students:
- Look at community and define their community.
- Begin looking at issues or problems within the community, however they defined that community.
- Define the problem and view it from different perspectives.
- The end product of this process is that the students develop a creative solution to the problem through investigating how it would be resolved in different parts of the world and coming up with a uniquely Omani solution.