sábado, 26 de octubre de 2013

Stats for the New School Year

The school year successfully started on September 9th! Pre-school through 3rd grade have class in the mornings and 4th, 5th and 6th grades have class in the afternoons. Several volunteers, teachers, and a director, worked on registering students for this year. Below are some stats taken from those registrations. 27 of our students are sponsored so far, which leaves around 73 left we need to get sponsored! We have a new fundraising software to facilitate support for the school. Click here to view the new page which displays our goals, progress, and deadlines.

Lastly, the pictures in this post were taken toward the beginning of the year by the landlord of the building we rent. He asked if he could take pictures to show to his family in Austria, as he is proud to be renting his building for the use of a school! You can see that most students were not in uniform at this time. Many students unfortunately wait to get their uniforms to come to school, although we encourage them to come in colors. This can be frustrating to observe for those of us who went to high quality schools without uniforms, but here it is completely the norm, and we just have to go with it. But this is another reason why it is important that we get our students sponsored!

One last thing to clarify before you read the stats is that where you see K for Kindergarten, it actually encompasses 3 years of schooling, following the Haitian school system, so this somewhat coincides to two years of pre-school and one year of kindergarten, with students entering as young as 2. You will also notice that we have students at low levels but older ages, who have never had the opportunity to go to school before. And we have two adult classes at the basic levels that we started holding at night this year, which are not included in these stats.


There are 100 total students listed on the spreadsheet. Some of the information is incomplete, so these averages are slightly inaccurate, but should give an overall picture of the school roster.

21 students report being at the school last year, plus 2 who started but didn’t end the year. One student reports having attended the P.E. school in Muñoz last year.

91 students reported their current grade
Average grade of all students: 2.8

K: 25

1st: 11
2nd: 21
3rd: 15
4th: 9
5th: 7
6th: 3


Average age of all students: 9.74 (age range 1.5-24)

Average age by grades:

K: 3.7 (age range 1.5-7)
1st: 11.8 (age range 5-21)
2nd: 11.5 (age range 5-20)
3rd: 10.6 (age range 6-15)
4th: 12.6 (age range 6-18)
5th: 15.8 (age range 11-24)
6th: 15 (age range 13-18)


(89 students reported their age)

1 – 1.5 years old
6 – 2 years old
6 -- 3 years old
7 – 4 years old
3 – 5 years old
7 -- 6 years old
7 – 7 years old
4 – 8 years old
3 – 9 years old
10 – 10 years old
5 -- 11 years old
3 -- 12 years old
5 -- 13 years old

4 – 14 years old
3 -- 15 years old
3 -- 16 years old
2 -- 17 years old
6 -- 18 years old
2 -- 19 years old
1 -- 20 years old
2 -- 22 years old
1 -- 24 years old


49 students reported how long they had been in the D.R.

18 were born in the D.R.

3 – less than one year
7 – one year
3 – two years

3 – three years
3 – five years
5 – six years
5 – seven years
1 – eight years
1 – 9 years


69 families listed the size of their household.

Average household size: 4.3

7 households of 2
18 households of 3
15 households of 4
11 households of 5
9 households of 6
9 households of 7

Thank you for your support!

sábado, 10 de agosto de 2013

A New Building & New Directors for a New School Year!

We have been blessed with a new building! All summer we searched for a new school building as we knew that the one we were in last year was a little expensive for the amount of space it provided. It also was in an area of the community where the water pressure is so low that it doesn't even rise from ground level up into the taps. We found an apartment for a bit less rent money and a bit more space with better access to water, but the downside was that it had no yard area, whereas the one from last year had at least a little. Plus, it was not a house, but an apartment connected to other apartments and on the second floor. Nonetheless, we were going to go for it. 

As time neared to pay the deposit and move, Willy, our first grade teacher, told me of a great house he found in a neighboring community that is a little.. actually quite a bit wealthier, which means better access to water, electricity, cleanliness, and peace in general, not to down talk the barrio by any means. One day during summer camp we left the group to go check it out. While on the way, we passed a yard and building with a playground that used to be a restaurant. I had noticed it before. It had a large "For Rent" sign and a phone number. I pointed it out to Willy. We immediately stared at it and commented at how perfect it would be for the school. I quickly called the number and spoke to the landlord who told us the rent - about $40 more per month than our current building. 

The landlord's wife was next door and would come to open it. Once I got off the phone, we celebrated and expressed our disbelief that a building with a yard so big and beautiful with a playground could cost just $40 more than the building we were previously in. Willy, who had just been talking about the persecution he was facing and health problems he continued to experience, which he believed to be a result of his involvement with the school and effort to advance it despite of jealousy and competition among other community members, something that has unfortunately come up a bit among our teachers and I believe falls under the category of spiritual warfare, said, "I think.... I think it's God that is giving us this building." I (Caitlin) agreed. He didn't mean literally giving it to us to own, but led us to it to use for the school.

After checking out the building, we saw that it didn't have enough space inside to house all of the classrooms, but it had adequate porch space in the front, side, and back, and with the Caribbean climate, this is perfectly fine. I ran back to camp and after it ended and local campers were dismissed, led volunteers, teachers, and the campers who travel to camp with us to check it out. Everyone was pleased with it. The landlord said that someone else was looking at it and deciding about it. After missing out on great houses in such situations before, I shared this with the volunteers and let them know that the deposit money was not yet available from organization funds. Three volunteers generously fronted the money so that we could move in that weekend! So English camp had a new home for the last week! 

We quickly discovered that a big lesson kids would have to learn was playground etiquette. It was heart warming yet also heart breaking to watch teenagers pile up on see saws, swings, and a slide, as though they had never been on a playground in their lives, and maybe some of them had not been. So we did demonstrations of waiting in a line behind the slide, having just one camper on a swing at a time, and taking turns. The first day before we sat them down and talked about this, we were lucky that the most serious injury was a busted lip!

One last announcement is that we have a new morning director and new afternoon director. Wanbert, school co-founder and director since 2010 has stepped down as director and will be working as a teacher in the
morning and afternoon. Pastor Milien has proposed a man named Vladimi as morning director and one of our teachers Met Prosper will be serving as afternoon director. Spreading out the responsibility in this way will undoubtedly cause the staff to work more in a team fashion and will make the overall effort more productive. We had a meeting this morning that ended up lasting 3 hours! After spending the summer with volunteers, teachers have learned a lot about the life of a volunteer and therefore a little more about the base of the organization. We will be visited by a volunteer placement organization the week of August 19th in hopes of establishing a partnership where they send up to 200 volunteers a year throughout the year to work with us! We have high hopes for establishing this partnership as it will be a great opportunity to work with more folks, as well as with the trip fees volunteers will pay, it will be a steady source of income that will hopefully allow us to make some improvements such as an increase in teacher salaries. 
 Don't forget - we are starting a new school year and need sponsors for each of our students. We have had around 100 register so far and have 11 sponsored for this school year. School starts September 9th so we need more sponsors before then as it goes much better when we can get books and uniforms before the start of the school year, rather than throughout! It's $100 for the year. E-mail Sponsor@EsperanzaMeansHope.org for more info. 

Thank you for your support!

domingo, 23 de junio de 2013

Lots of Meetings!!

Teacher Judith Cadet and her kindergarden/pre-school class.

Throughout the spring, we had a series of meetings with educators in the community of Padre Granero. Some of these educators work in our school, some work in another school that popped up nearby this year, others are parents of students in our school, and others are hopeful employees. Everyone expressed one desire. To work in collaboration toward the cause of providing the best education possible to the children in the community, as well as to illiterate adults. They also expressed the need for educators to stop putting money first when providing social aid, but to put the advancement of the school first. We hope that teacher salaries can increase in the future and their standards of living can improve, but putting money first will not make this happen.

There seems to be a phenomenon that often occurs when a local group of educators receives foreign support. Rather than using the support as a boost to do more than they could've done before, they sometimes put money first and hold back, refusing to do certain basic tasks unless more money is given to them. They aren't motivated to visit the houses of children who are not in school and encourage their parents (who are unschooled themselves and don't always give school the value it deserves) to send these children to school. They are more concerned about their monthly paycheck and don't seem concerned (or at least enough to act) that at the end of each year, attendance dwindles significantly, or some students who register and receive free uniforms don't actually attend school. This group whom which we held a series of meetings largely criticized this phenomenon and spoke passionately about their collective desire to create a school where this is not the case. Educators who act in that way are producing much less fruit than is possible to produce, and they/we want to produce as much fruit as possible.

So in response to this, we began forming a committee to govern the school. This committee is still in its formation stages. I am happy to announce that we have joined forces again with the first educator we ever worked with in Padre Granero, a pioneer of Haitian education in the community, Pastor Milien Dieufils. Also as a result of this series of meetings, the man who has served as the school's director from January 2010 to present, was asked to step down and work as a teacher. If he does not accept peacefully, he will not work with the school at all. It was determined that his practices do not represent the ideal practices stated above, but more so the negative practices that lead to a less fruitful school and effort.

Tomorrow we will begin a volunteer run English immersion camp in the school. This summer we will also execute a soccer team for boys in the community ages 7-14, which boys in our boys' home will also participate in. We are searching for a new school building to rent as the previous director declares too much authority over the current building, and also because we believe we can find a better location with better access to water. Volunteer Chloe Bootstaylor and teacher Willy Previl spent a week and a half walking all around the community and surrounding communities, motivating and informing parents and registering students for next year. Chloe has created student profiles of these students who are ready for sponsorship for the 2013-2014 school year. Remember, this is a $100 per year committment which goes toward the student's uniform, books, and some toward the general functioning of the school. If you would like to sponsor, please e-mail Sponsor@EsperanzaMeansHope.org

Lastly, if you are in the Puerto Plata area and would like to volunteer with the English camp this summer, please e-mail cambia.mis.estrellas@gmail.com.