Meru Nombeko-Aisha Kheop, Founder of The Taisna Group, Inc. and Executive Director of Taisna Traveling School.
Meru Nombeko-Aisha Kheop (C) with children (L to R), Princess-Mena Ifree; Prince-Michael Amaru; Princess-Makini Tamaa and Cassius Stephen.
The Taisna Group, Inc.
The Taisna Story
Meru Nombeko-Aisha Kheop, a recent member of the Board of Directors for KCPS Education Foundation (2017) has served the public school community in Kansas City, Missouri; Marin City, California; and New York City, New York in many capacities over the past three decades. Meru is a social entrepreneur who created The Taisna Group to leave a legacy of importance for her 4 children, of which, the company's name was inspired. The Taisna Motto is: Truthfulness and Intregrity Successfully Nurtures Abundance. Each letter represents the middle names of each child from the youngest to the eldest including her own: Tamaa, Amaru, Ifree, Stephen and Nombeko-Aisha.
Meru was a wife, homeschooling mother, and graduate student at Harvard University in 2009 when one day as she sat in her daughter's room with the children, she began to quietly take assessment of her life at that point, and realized that the most important thing that she could do for her children and society was to infuse all that she learned into a company that would eventually outlive her, one that her children could be proud of and continue to build as they matured. So much of Meru's joy came from the daily homeschooling adventures she created through her interdisciplinary approach to education, one that includes all primary subjects with in-class and outdoor lessons.
Prior to Meru's undergrad and graduate studies, she had a lifelong interest in travel and the study of historical culture. She often shares with others that had she been introduced to the science of anthropology in her K-12 years of schooling, she would have embraced it as a major when she first began her college career as a fresh-faced ambitious 16 year old who left the rough terrain of tenement housing and public schools in New York City to attend a small 2 year college in Santa Rosa, California. Meru's theory is that, when youth learn why groups of people behave as they do from a historical cultural perspective, they will evolve as compassionate human beings, thus, bringing forth a more peace-filled society.
It wasn't until she was in her 30's completing her MPA at the University of Missouri when she had to take two electives and chose to enroll into a "History of the Holocaust" and a "Social Anthropology" course, that she discovered the academic path that could truly feed her passion. However, because she had committed herself to the study of public policy (serving as a U.S. Housing and Urban Development Fellow), and was on the trajectory to receive a legal education, having already been accepted to law school in Boston, MA where she became a Rappaport Fellow of Law and Public Policy at Harvard's JFK School of Government, she resolved that it was too late to switch her educational focus to anthropology, even though, deep in her heart, she knew it was where her passion lay.
You see, back in 1990 when Meru was a young actress who just finished shooting the film "House Party" and was between jobs, she decided to open up a large paper map of the world, close her eyes, point to a spot on the map, and wherever her finger landed is where she would investigate two research questions: (1) Who were the people that inhabited the location prior to Columbus coming there; and (2) What form of government did these people have? Meru, then, traveled to the location. This was an organic decision she made purely out a desire and passion to learn about historical cultural groups that differed from her own. Meru had no previous study which influenced her interest and research questions. It just came to her. The place that her finger landed on was, Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles, located 40 miles from Venezuela. In 1990, Curaçao and Aruba were not the college student party destinations that they are known for today. These were uncharted waters, especially for a girl from Harlem who had never traveled outside the U.S. Meru began her research at local libraries where she discovered the Taino Indians as the people who inhabited the island prior to Columbus. She also discovered that they had quite an elaborate form of government. Her investigation led her to caves with markings, which only increased her excitement for traveling there to learn more. After making contact with professors who lived on the island, she booked her "courier" flight, which was extremely cheap, made contact with someone who could drive her around the island because she was warned to not drive alone due to the unfinished roads. Thus, Meru's first traveling school excursion was set and accomplished with herself as the student.
It is this sense of adventure combined with an interest in historical culture and interdisciplinary learning that Meru brings to the Taisna Group. Taisna Traveling School's adventurous field excursions are presently located in the United States, where K-12 youth are taught in the same manner by which Meru taught herself as a young curious person and her own children when she served as their home educator.