Dream Team II

The talented “Distance Learning” team of volunteer teachers are working together to support the Distance Learning Project now underway.

“Friends of Copey is bringing 100 plus years of quality teaching experience to the “Distance Learning” project. We sought out some of the best talent we had available through “Friends of Copey” and they are ready to teach! The following is a brief bio on their skills and experience.

James Belford –

James Belford is a tremendous addition to the team of teachers supporting the Copey Learning Center. He certainly fits in with the other standout volunteers.

James was born in St. Catharines, a province of Ontario, Canada. This location is also connected to our own American Revolution as many of the original inhabitants were Loyalists who moved to Canada following our country’s war for independence. Plus, it is the largest city in Canada’s Niagara Falls region.

James received his degree from Brock University in 2017 in Philosophy with a minor in German. He also received his English as a Second Language (ESL) Certificate at the same time. He has used the ESL training as a Language Assistant in Lelpzig, Germany during 2018 thru 2019.

Currently he volunteers with “Conversations with Cambodia”, an on-line international volunteer program teaching conversational English to Cambodians. Similarly, he volunteers with Viet-Skype which is a project exchanging Vietnamese culture and English between Vietnamese students and English speakers.

James has traveled to eastern United States, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Germany, Portugal, Austria, and Greece. Somehow, he finds time to enjoy reading, jogging, and hanging out with friends.

James tells us how he feels about this project:

“I am honored to have the opportunity to work with Dream Team II. So far, my experience has been great and the students are enthusiastic and willing to learn. I hope that through this work I can help improve the lives of the people of Copey and improve my own teaching ability.”

Sonya Boyko

Please meet Ms. Sonya Boyko. She was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Her travels and educational experiences are extensive and very commendable. Long before she earned her college certificate in Early Childhood Education and a BA in Psychology, long before she spent 35 years in the field of education, long before she developed a desire for life-long learning, and long before she became a mother to three children, she traveled extensively.Sonya has traveled to the United States, Britain, Scotland, Ukraine, Mexico, Portugal and Spain, France and Germany and other countries.

She taught English at a prestigious school in Shenyang, China. Her students have represented many different countries, backgrounds, cultural differences, and even students with physical and educational disabilities.

Some of the most impressive attributes Sonya shares as a Dream Team II member includes her love of education and her devotion to having a positive educational impact on the lives and life-choices of her students. She believes learning a language such as English can cause doors of opportunities to swing open. And, she has clearly devoted her life working around the world…making a difference. 

I have observed Sonya during her class time with the Copey students. It is enjoyable to watch and astonishing to see the classroom magic she performs with her pre-school and kindergarten Copey students. Sonya wishes to say:

“Let me first say how excited I am to join this amazing and dedicated Dream Team of 2021. I have a love for teaching others new skills. I realize that my work in education has made a positive and enriching impact on the lives of many individuals. Thank you all for this amazing opportunity and hoping to meet up face to face one day soon.”

Hina Fatima –

Hina is originally from Karachi, Pakistan and now lives in California. She is a foreign medical graduate (MD) working as an online mental health coach in the United States. She is help people overcome their fears and emotional struggles in order to reach their potential. Also, she works as a community outreach officer for the Council of American Islamic Relations and has worked in clinical research for three years previously.

Her community service includes being a Kiwanis member. She is affiliated with the Girls Scouts of Southern California, and “Mom’s Club”.Hina is an avid reader and enjoys writing while also enjoying being a world traveler. She has supportive ties with welfare organizations located in both Pakistan and Uganda.

With Copey she has the first and second grade students and excels in this age group perhaps because she has two daughters currently 7 and 10 years old.

Her connection with Friends of Copey goes back to 2015 when I wrote about her in a Post to honor her for service to her community in California. I invite you to visit that Post by clicking on the link below.

Again, this project has attracted many people over the years and Hina provides a strong testimony regarding the importance and value of our work. I deeply admire and appreciate her community service. As she serves her community and the world, it is an honor that she also finds “Friends of Copey” worthy of her time and talents.


Hina shares these comments: “I am loving the experience and my passion to help people either children or adults shows in my work.”

Teresa Keller –

I am honored to introduce to the “Friends of Copey” Dr. Teresa Keller, a current “Dream Team II” member.

Dr. Keller spent 32 years as a college professor before her retirement. Her earlier careers included being a journalist, television newscaster, radio reporter, talk show host, and much more.

She was presented with the award for Virginia Professor of the Year in 2003 by the Carnegie Foundation. In 2010, the Virginia Council on Higher Education awarded her the Outstanding Faculty Award.

Although Dr. Keller is technically retired, it is retirement in name only, similar to many “Friends”. She currently hosts a weekly radio talk show, and is the author of “Television News: The Heart and How-To of Video Storytelling”.

Even with a full schedule, she finds the time to meet with Copey students each week to help develop their knowledge of English. Just as important, she shares what is in her heart…her love for students and education. There is no one better equipped to teach English and communication than Dr. Keller.

Dr. Keller recently wrote:

“I have realized that this teaching position involves quite a bit of work!  It’s worth it, though, because these young people are just as I expected them to be:  smart, beautiful, and inspirational.  It’s an honor to work with them and to be connected to Copey.” 

Jane Rutledge –

Jane and I first met during our college days about 50 years ago. Her husband Gail and I were fraternity brothers. Following college, we lived during all those years on opposite ends of the country which limited our personal contact.

Gail passed away in January 2017. In honor of Gail’s life, a scholarship was presented to the Copey Learning Center in his name. This gesture kicked off a series of events and we next find Jane with her bags packed heading to the Copey Learning Center to work for three months as a volunteer teacher.

Jane arrived in Copey in early August, 2017. She begins her work in Copey not much different than she was in the early college days. Strong, determined, devoted, and energized, Jane began making her unforgettable mark on the children and community.

She taught students to read English and the moms were taught to knit. The Jane I last saw fifty years earlier in Virginia was the same Jane now in Copey “making a difference”.

Jane completed her time on the ground in Copey in November 2017 but her work with the Copey students has never ended. She welcomed and hosted the Pathway Project students when they arrived in the United States in 2018 and hosted the 2019 Pathway Project students the following year. In the Fall of 2020, Jane was the first to join the Dream Team to take on the teaching challenges involving the start of the Copey Learning Center’s on-line educational project. And, she is the only returning 2020 Dream Team member who has joined the 2021 Dream Team.

As a retired educator, there is not sufficient room in this Post to account for Jane’s long and sterling career as a classroom teacher. Her accomplishments are many and well deserved. She comes from a family of teachers and is the key reason we can call this semester’s group of volunteers…Dream Team II, a true “servant with a heart”.

Jane was featured in our college’s Alumni Magazine, the Fall-Winter 2017-2018 issue covering her work in Copey. In the article written by Monica Hoel, Emory & Henry College Alumni Director, Jane is quoted saying, “I found the most beautiful country, and the most heartwarming people who have a tremendous love for their families. The people are amazing!”

Toby Yates

Hailing from Brighton, a small city near London, Toby is an extraordinary member of Dream Team II. He is in charge of the pre-high school students ages 11 thru 15 years old. He is a serious traveler. Some of the countries he has visited and worked in include; Uganda, Thailand, Poland, Italy, and Spain.

In 2011, Toby spent 9 months in San Jose, Costa Rica at a language school.  It is very impressive to see how much Toby and the other volunteers have traveled around the world developing unique educational experiences now being shared with Copey students. 

Toby obtained his Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) in 2007 and obviously has put this training to excellent use. Currently, Toby is working as an Academic English teacher at a small school in the United Kingdom. There he is preparing foreign students for university study and helping them meet their English language requirements.

Toby shared these thoughts recently:

“Learning on-line is not easy and so far my students have adapted really well. Teaching them has been a great experience and I am very happy to have the opportunity to help out the Copey Learning Center as an on-line teacher.

 It has been ten years since I was last in Costa Rica and I hope to be there in person as soon I can. I want to return as a volunteer as it is a country I hold dear and have been wanting to go back to for some time now.”