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Liberia Literacy & School Project – School4Schools Foundation

Liberia Literacy & School Project

The story of the “Terry and Michael Academy”

The below is our side of the story, in photos, of the “Terry & Michael Academy,” a new K-6 school in in Lower Johnsonville, Liberia.

The more important side of this story is told by Sonnie Lawrence, Founder and Director of Agents of Positive Change and of the Terry & Michael Academy. This story and project are all Sonnie’s inspiration and doing. The organizations and donors who have sponsored and supported Sonnie’s work are simply proud to be part of Sonnie’s amazing journey.

For current status and plans, please see Terry and Michael Academy status, December 31, 2022 update, which includes the goal to complete a new school house with eight classrooms to accommodate more students.

Rule of Law Literacy Program

In late 2021, LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation shipped a 40-foot container with school and library supplies to the Agents of Positive Change in Lower Johnsonville, Liberia. in order to promote literacy, education and civic participation in Liberia.

The idea started when Sonnie Lawrence of Agents of Positive Change met Teresa “Terry” Jennings at a conference in Washington, DC.  Sonnie was in attendance as a Fellow in the Mandela Washington Fellowship For Young African Leaders, a U.S. State Department program. Terry was amazed by Sonnie’s personal story and her dedication to developing literacy and supporting young women in Liberia.

Their first joint project was publication of the “Rule of Law Coloring Book,” created by LexisNexis volunteers and distributed to ten schools in Lower Johnsonville, Liberia.

Rule of Law coloring book created and donated by LexisNexis volunteers and LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation

Terry next proposed shipping a container with books and supplies to open a library to continue the work started with the coloring books. The container, per the below story in photos, was shipped in October 2021 and finally arrived to its destination in Lower Johnsonville, Liberia, in May of 2022. In addition to the books, paper and writing materials, whiteboards, tables and chairs, the shipment also included laptops, solar panels, power converters, water bottles, tote bags, and other common supplies we Americans take for granted but that are a rarity for most of these students and schools in Liberia.

LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation additionally funded construction of a utility and storage building, and School4Schools Foundation has run remote mentoring and training programs with teachers from area schools.

In June, 2022, Terry visited Liberia to see the site and discuss next steps with Sonnie. While there, local residents explained to Terry that their children were unable to attend school, as it took 1-2 hours — each way — for them to walk to the nearest schools. They asked if the container couldn’t be used also as a school for local residents. The school opened with 5 children in September, 2022, and quickly grew to over 50 students.

Terry Jennings, William Lawrence (brother to Sonnie), and Sonnie Lawrence, Lower Johnsonville, Liberia, June, 2022

Meanwhile, School4Schools Foundation raised over $7,500 from generous U.S. donors, which has funded construction of a permanent foundation and roof for the container, a perimeter fence, a 4K projector, classroom supplies, and, the foundation for a new 8-classroom school house. We will raise another $4,000 by early February to fund completion of the building, which will accommodate several hundred students.

Please contact School4Schools Foundation with your ideas and offers for assistance of this special and important program. Or go to our donation page for links to PayPal and GoFundMe donations or send a check to School4Schools Foundation, 116 S. Hudson St., Arlington, VA 22204. All donations are tax-deductible.

Here’s the story in photographs

School’s open, Sept 20, 2022!

Students and teachers in front of the shipping container/ brand new school, Sept 20, 2022

It started back in Sept. 2021:
Collecting supplies to send to Liberia for to promote literacy and education

Arrival of 40-foot shipping container to be filled with school supplies and then used as the library/school facility in Lower Johnsonville, Liberia

Getting ready!

Painting the container white to reduce the heat & adding fun graphics to it!

Loading the container w LexisNexis volunteers

Inventory, lifting, stacking and sorting

Next, literally picking up the container to ship to Liberia

Arrival to Liberia

The container site in Lower Johnsonville, Liberia

Students using the container as a classroom

Students working outside of the container
(which is why we need to construct a permanent school structure)

Placing the container on the raised, permanent platform, Oct 2022


Our generous donors paid for a permanent roof for the container and a perimeter fence around the school yard, Oct/Nov 2022

The school officially opened September 2022

Groundbreaking ceremony, Dec 19, 2022 for new, 8-classroom school house

Construction materials for foundation of new school house:

Jan 1 2023, Good news on the New Year: Foundation complete!

March-May, 2023: building up the structure

A special milestone: On Apr 25, 2023, students from the Terry & Michael Academy participated for the first time in the West African Examination Council standardized test for grades 3 & 6

June-July, 2023: finishing the interior foundation


On July 19, the Terry & Michael Academy held its first graduation ceremony for children having completed kindergarten and 6th grade.


We are thrilled to see the school thriving. While off to a slow start in September, as of late October, the school had over sixty students enrolled!

The new building, while unfurnished, is being used for classrooms, with great anticipation of arrival in early January of desks, chairs, dividers, and other school equipment.

In the autumn of 2023, Terry and Michael collected donations and raised funds to send materials to be used in the school — and, now, place of worship on weekends for the community. We received the most remarkable generosity and assistance…

What a joy it was to collect and send Bibles, Catechisms, Rosaries — and old pews from our parish that is undergoing a renovation — a piano and guitar, along with school and building supplies such as floor tires, classroom dividers and binders.

On December 5, we loaded a truck at a storage unit in Gaithersburg, Maryland and at St. Martin of Tours Catholic School, which generously donated desks, chairs and other supplies for use in the new building:

The truck loaded, Michael drove it to a warehouse in Baltimore where Mike and his team managed to stuff it all into a 20ft shipping container. They used dexterity and care, even saving a little piece of Mr. Potato Head that had fallen on the floor — “I know what that is,” declared the man, “My daughter loves Mr. Potato Head!” (With thanks to the Ladds for the Mr. Potato Head set.)

The Maersk MSC Everest VIII sailed on December 16, and arrived to the port of Monrovia on January 28. A few stumbles moving money through the banks, and with great skill and diplomacy by Charles Lawrence, Sonnie’s father, the cargo was kept intact and cleared customs in early February.

All items made it and have been put to use at the school. A carpenter is rebuilding the pews, a new music teacher has been hired, Rosaries are being distributed and Bibles opened on Sundays…

.. and the kids are LOVING the desks and chairs and learning more than ever.

God bless and thanks to all who helped make this happen!

We hope you will choose to help this unique and important project

Please go to our Donate page or let us know your ideas here: