Education promoters are on the front lines of Common Hope’s latest initiative to provide greater educational opportunities for Guatemalan children.
Ligia Pol’s work day starts early. She wakes at 5:30 a.m. to prepare classroom materials before catching a ride into San Rafael an hour later. Arriving at school around 7:30 a.m., Ligia greets all 15 teachers, checks in about where she can help, and prepares for her morning reading activity.
A teacher with Common Hope since 2000, Ligia just started her second year as an Education Promoter in San Rafael. Her days are spent working side-by-side with the elementary school directors and teachers, leading reading activities and modeling creative learning strategies.
“It was difficult at first,” Ligia admits, “but little by little I gained acceptance from the teachers and they began to enjoy the reading activities.“ Ligia says one of her biggest accomplishments last year was when one teacher embraced a new style of teaching and began to lead her own reading activities in her classroom. Another breakthrough occurred when a San Rafael teacher volunteered her summer break to help Ligia with vacation school.
Building on the foundation she laid last year, Ligia will focus her efforts in 2011 on the three first grade classrooms. This focus is based on the fact that a quarter of first graders fail the grade each year in Guatemala. Working alongside the teachers during class time, Ligia will encourage good classroom management and help kids who need extra support. After school, she will lead a program to provide more specialized attention to smaller groups of students.
Every day, Ligia strives to bring energy and excitement to the classroom, always motivating and encouraging the teachers. “Our goal this year is to model learning systems that are creative and will lead to a healthy, safe and fun learning environment for students,” Ligia says.
Ligia clearly has great enthusiasm for her work. “What fills me up is seeing the smiles on the faces of the children when you teach them something new,” says Ligia. “And receiving gratitude from the community has been really satisfying.”