Education in the Time of Ebola: Interview with Katie Meyler, founder of More Than Me
Katie Meyler’s resume reads like the task list of a superhero.
Start a school for girls in Liberia — check.
Fight Ebola — check.
Spearhead a national educational reform movement — check.
Meyler moved to the western African nation eleven years ago and founded More Than Me, an organization that helps girls get off the streets and into school. The girls asked to be educated, so Meyler opened Liberia’s first all-girls academy, which became one of the top-performing schools in the country.
Then Ebola hit.
Meyler was on the front lines of the disease, transforming the academy into an outreach center for six months. With the help of 500 staff but less than a million dollars in the budget, the school took in children orphaned or abandoned during the crisis, reduced ambulance wait time, and saved thousands of lives.
“Nothing in the news really portrayed what the reality was on the ground,” Meyler recalls.
So she used Instagram to tell the story of the devastation, attracting international attention to Ebola stories and drawing praise from the mobile app’s CEO. When TIME chose Ebola Fighters as the 2014 Person of the Year, the magazine called Meyler “a tornado of energy.”
But after the health crisis subsided, Meyler wasn’t done fighting for the well being of her students
“If our girls lived in Liberia, they were in danger,” she realized. “They were vulnerable because Liberia is vulnerable.”
More Than Me is now managing an additional six schools, and has partnered with the Liberian government to replicate their program across the nation
In this interview with Hannah Nyren of EdTech Times, Meyler shares the challenges of working in schools with no electricity, combating scams that drain teacher payroll, and bringing internet access to schools. At the same time, her joy and pride in the transformation of Liberia’s infrastructure is palpable. Of her most recent time in Liberia, she says, “Every day was like magic.”
Previously an academic adviser at her alma mater, Texas A&M University, Adelia has contributed her editorial skills to The Eckleburg Project, Redivider, and Texas A&M University Press. She recently moved from Texas to Boston to pursue a master's degree in publishing & writing at Emerson College. She devotes her free time to reading fantasy novels and spoiling cats.