From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. - Ephesians 4:16
In 1991, Brian and Mireya (mee-RAY-yah) Overcast, along with another American couple, Brett and Margaret Hespen, and the ringleader, Laurie Connolly (Henkle, set out to create an organization that will bring hope and change to Mexico. From this movement, Nuevas Oportunidades Educativas (New Opportunities in Education, NOE) was born.
As a supplementary educational organization, NOE set out to offer educational programs that are usually only available to the wealthy in Mexico. In 2017, the state of Michoacán was the 6th poorest state in Mexico with 54.4% of its people living under the national poverty rate. Having had a similar ranking throughout generations, Morelia, the capital city of Mexico, was an ideal location to help urban families through new educational options.
In January of 1992, NOE opened in a small building with 34 students. Today, we have three facilities throughout the city. The longest-standing location, NOE Primero, opened in 1992, and hosts over 400 students each week. NOE Loma Libre, where Reggie and I spend the majority of our time, has been operating for more than nine years and has over 300 students. NOE Vida West opened in 2018 and has over 150 students. Our online program, created as a result of the pandemic, still has over 200 students, totaling over 1,050+ current students from ages 3rd grade through adult.
From the beginning, NOE’s English program was their most foundational program and continues to be today. We currently offer three levels of elementary school English, along with an accredited four-year English program for middle school, high school, and adult students. In August, I will be officially assuming the position of English program coordinator, where I will be training teachers, coordinating curriculum and instruction, supervising and observing teachers, and many other facets of the English program as a whole. With the incredible reputation of our program, please be praying for me as I prepare for this transition and that I can uphold its reputation!
Mireya, originally from Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico, is an incredible artist, specializing in painting. Having won various awards for her artwork, she emphasized the importance of the arts at NOE. In addition to art classes, NOE offers music classes for voice, piano, and guitar.
Brian, having always been a big basketball fan and former player, brought a basketball program to NOE and Morelia. The NOE Cougars have developed a great reputation throughout the basketball communities throughout the city. NOE has former players that went on to get basketball scholarships and havereturned as coaches or now send their children to the basketball program.
Finally, last but certainly not least, our youth group program called Un Espacio Para Ti (a place for you) and weekly Bible studies are opportunities to share the gospel and give hope in Jesus Christ through fun games, community, crazy outings, worship, small groups, learning about God’s word, and living life together on a weekly basis.
In March, Reggie and I began directing the Loma Libre Un Espacio Para Ti group with a team of teachers from NOE. We love to see how God is moving in the hearts of the students academically, but my heart swells to see them growing spiritually as we discuss the Bible and what it means to live by faith.
Brian and Mireya have always emphasized the importance of being a team throughout this process. One of the aspects of NOE that drew me to them so deeply is the obvious longevity that is evident in their staff. Hugo Bedolla, along with his wife Myriam, have been with NOE for 28 years, the entire span of their marriage. He started out working with the youth in various capacities and is now the director at NOE Loma Libre. Myriam is his lovely secretarial assistant. Juan Peralta, graduate of NOE, current director of NOE Primero, and soon-to-be lead director of NOE, has been involved with NOE for 24+ years. Erick Garcia, director at NOE Vida West, is also a NOE graduate whose family has been involved with NOE for over 18 years. It is common for former students to return as teachers, coaches, or supports of NOE in a variety of forms. Ale Moreno, future director of NOE Primero, met the Lord on the step of NOE and now brings this love of Jesus to others through her teaching and leadership. This is the organization they sought to create.
God has blessed this organization through the vision and dedication of Brian and Mireya. Thousands of people have been touched and changed by NOE as a result of their love for God and their love for His people. Thank you for support us as we journey with NOE as it continues to grow. This is the legacy Brian and Mireya have left behind but will never be forgotten.