Honoring the Legacy of Bill Safström Visionary Educator and Beloved Friend

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Nicolás Fund for Education’s Vice-President and Chair of the Education Committee, Bill Safström, on February 25, 2024 from a brief neurological illness. Bill died of  CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), which is always fatal and for which there is no treatment.  Bill’s visionary spirit and unwavering commitment to education have left an indelible mark on Nicolás Christian School and the entire Ixil region of Guatemala.

With his extensive experience founding Christian schools in the United States, Bill played an instrumental role in establishing the Nicolás Christian School as a beacon of hope with full-day, high-quality education for impoverished Mayan children in Guatemala’s Ixil region. His forward-thinking approach led to the development of diverse educational programs, fostering excellence at the school’s junior and senior high levels. 

A passionate advocate for digital literacy, Bill introduced innovative educational technology to students and teachers. This included facilitating access to digital books and educational curriculum via tablets, implementing digital record-keeping for teachers, and creating a tutoring program for sixth graders to prepare them for Nicolas Christian School utilizing RACHEL devices—portable repositories of educational content available offline. 

Beyond the school’s premises, Bill’s passion was creating nine village community libraries, collectively housing over 7,000 books to encourage a love of reading amongst the Ixil community. He also initiated annual teacher professional development workshops for Ixil region primary and secondary school educators, covering pivotal topics from classroom management to teaching strategies. Bill’s commitment to inclusivity and expansion of knowledge throughout the Ixil region led to hosting these workshops virtually, thus broadening accessibility. More than 150 teachers attended these annual workshops in a region devoid of teacher professional development resources.

Bill’s insatiable curiosity about the world, and his compassion, humility, dedication to teaching, and profound Christian faith defined his life’s work. He was an education innovator and a lifelong learner, leaving behind a legacy that will continue to inspire.

Survived by his wife Janet; children Michael (Dani), Juliana (Peter), and Gregory; and beloved grandson Bridger, Bill’s memory will live on through the countless lives he touched and the community he so fervently served. His family, friends, and everyone at the Nicolás Fund for Education and Nicolás Christian School will dearly miss him.

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