Our first step included surveying children’s families to understand their needs and get a handle on the potential obstacles to remote schooling. We also assessed our teachers’ needs. We sourced laptops and tablets for our teachers to prepare lessons. That was the easy part! Few of our children’s homes have a TV, and even fewer have a computer with WIFI. Some can’t even afford a cell phone.
The solution wasn’t ideal, but it had the maximum reach to the students. Our teachers developed weekly study lessons and assignments, packing them with food rations to be delivered to the children’s homes, or to be collected by their parents from Kids Alive sites. Those with cell phones got their study resources via social media along with instructional videos.
“A recent study showed that in some of our communities, less than 10% of students graduate from high school before age 20,” says Vic Trautwein, Country Director, Kids Alive Dominican Republic. He adds, “In sharp contrast to this, Kids Alive students have a graduation rate of over 80%, despite the fact that our kids come from the most challenging circumstances.”
As COVID-19 continues to loom large going into 2021, our teachers have redoubled their resolve to counter its impact on education.
We are grateful to you, our supporters, for continuing to walk alongside us, even as our teachers walk alongside our children.
Isa serves as an education specialist while studying at the university. She is a part of Kids Alive’s Independence Program and lives in the neighboring Casa Ester program.
What do you like about your job?
Before everything else, I like to serve with love doing God’s work. I also like being able to help children develop new skills and watch them grow up learning new things in a fun way. Using the blessings that I have received from Kids Alive ministry, I like to help others.
What has been difficult about this time during the COVID-19 pandemic?
It has been difficult to adapt to the new methods of teaching during this time and the changes we have faced have been very significant. For children right now, figuring out education is the most difficult part. COVID-19 has completely altered our educational system and that change directly affects every student.
Have you noticed any positive changes during this time?
COVID-19 has unified our team within Casa Monte Plata. The rapid changes and the isolation of children forced everyone to be creative and watch out for each other.
As a teacher, what have been the challenges or difficulties for you during the pandemic?
A major challenge at Casa Monte Plata has been preparing adequate space to teach all the children within the campus walls as well as preparing good lesson plans. We also started from “zero” and so are new at this. However, students living in communities have bigger challenges. At home, they probably have fewer resources, and their parents with limited education may struggle to understand and explain the school assignments.
(Isa is one of a team of five who will focus on tutoring and education assistance with Casa Monte Plata during this time of distance learning. By early November, we will have in place 15 computer stations for our students).
Ark Jarabacoa academic coordinator Romery circulates among the multigrade classrooms to give extra assistance and guidance. Many of our residential children arrive in our care behind in their schooling, this is a great opportunity to provide some "catch-up" education as well as forge deep connections.
Palo Blanco office staff Raquel, sorts through completed assignments that are ready for grading. The reviewing and grading of classwork has required detailed and creative planning. Our teachers trained in Trauma Competent Care, approach students struggling to complete their work with an awareness and understanding that there may be larger issues behind delayed assignments.
Palo Blanco School teachers Hember, Eric, and Ana Alba enjoy a moment of comradery while planning lessons and devotions for their students. Although held on the school campus, discipleship “Club” is an important time for students to connect it helps prevent at-risk teens from pregnancy, alcoholism, and drug abuse, as well as school dropouts.
Rosanny , teacher, Santo Domingo East, visits her 4th graders as she is concerned about their wellbeing. *Amanda presented her with a beautiful letter full of love and a desire to be back at school. Home visits challenging as the Dominican government has curfews in place as well as a mandatory mask requirement and a prohibition of students on school campuses.
Director Luz Angela, Constanza School, and her staff created detailed COVID-19 safety protocols for parents to visit the school campus for parent-teacher meetings and exchange of completed and new schoolwork assignments. Hand disinfection, masks, and proper distancing are all enforced to ensure everyone’s safety.