The stories of first grader Javier and long-time elementary teacher Seño Carolina help illustrate the needs that our new School Partner Initiative will address. To read more about the initiative, check out our Winter Newsletter.
Meet First Grader Javier
This year, eight-year-old Javier is repeating first grade at the public school in San Miguel Escobar. Last year, he showed confusion over certain letters of the alphabet and had extreme difficulty learning to read and write. Common Hope psychology staff evaluated him and concluded that, although Javier appeared to have problems understanding and retaining information, he showed no signs of having a mental disability.
Mirna, Javier’s social worker, noted that some of his difficulties might stem from the lack of encouragement he received at home from his father. But the crowded classrooms and lack of individualized attention Javier received at school were holding him back as well; last year, Javier’s first grade classroom had 35 children. ¨The teacher isn’t able to give him the attention he needs because there are so many kids,¨ says Javier’s mother.
Overcrowded classrooms are just one of the challenges that both students and teachers face at public schools in Guatemala. Some students have difficulties speaking and hearing, others are malnourished, and many have difficult home lives–all which might require extra encouragement in the classroom. Combined with a lack of educational and social stimulation before entering school, kids have a tough time getting a good start in first grade. About a quarter of kids fail first grade in Guatemala, and only slightly more than 50 percent of kids graduate from sixth grade.
As a part of the School Partner Initiative, Common Hope’s education promoters will help facilitate early detection and intervention for at-risk students like Javier. They will also provide access to tutors, classroom volunteers, and after-school support so that students can receive the individualized attention they need.
Meet Long-time Teacher Seño Carolina
Seño Carolina has been teaching in the San Miguel Escobar public elementary school for 23 years, and she has high hopes for the School Partner Initiative. She was excited to see the commitment and enthusiasm of Renato Westby, head of the initiative, and after working with him, she says, ¨I knew [Common Hope] was an institution dedicated to the children.¨ With the support of Common Hope and the new partnership, Carolina anticipates strong achievement from her students this year. ¨I am sure they will overcome their difficulties. Many students will benefit from this [partnership].¨
[Newsletter, School Partnership Initiative]