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Paying It Forward

Kaqchikel educator Jerónima with students Magdalena and Amelia; Photo by Mary O’Connor

Educators at the Impact School teach students in dynamic and engaging ways to help them learn and grow. For most girls at the school, the attentiveness and dedication of their educators is a new experience. In Guatemala, teachers at public schools often lack the skills and training required to instruct effectively. Jerónima, Kaqchikel educator at the Impact School, shared, “In my experience, public school teachers are often not concerned about the students’ education. Whether students pass the class is not the teachers’ greatest concern. The students often just copy from the board, rather than actually learning. If a student only has a definition but does not receive an example or the chance to practice, what more can they do?”

The Impact School is challenging the status quo of education in Guatemala, redefining what “learning” and “teaching” look like. Teaching in Guatemala is a job often associated with passivity and adherence to traditional standards. We use the term “educator” because our staff is different. The educators receive extensive training through internal professional development to ensure that they teach their subjects in the most effective and intentional way. Early on, Girl Pioneers recognize the quality of the education they are receiving and admire their educators for their “respect, ability to explain content, and fun activities.”

Inspired by educators at the Impact School, students Magdalena and Claudia Marisol want to be teachers one day to provide others with the academic support and instruction that they are currently receiving.

Photo by Yihemba Yikona

Magdalena is the 5th child in a family of seven children. Her father studied until 6th grade, and her mother only attended preschool. Her dream is to be a math teacher in her community. “I want to teach young children because in my community there are teachers, but they don’t teach well, so the kids do not learn. They only give directions and don’t explain anything else. Sometimes the teachers don’t even come to class.” Magdalena’s vision of teaching is different. She wants to lead classes well and provide young people in her community the opportunity to learn and have a robust foundation of knowledge to build on in future schooling.

Photo by Carly Piersol

Claudia Marisol is the 5th child in a family of six children. Her father studied until 3rd grade, and her mother studied until 6th grade. When she thinks of the future, she dreams of being an English teacher. “Right now, not everyone has the opportunity to study,” she says. “In my community, the teachers mistreat the students and do not teach well. They do not explain the lessons and concepts. This makes me upset. I want to teach things well to students so that they can get a good education.” English is not commonly taught in Guatemala, but Claudia values the opportunity to learn it at the Impact School. “I want more people to be able to learn English, and that’s why I want to be an English teacher.”

World Teachers’ Day reminds us that the right to an education means the right to a qualified teacher. Impact School educators stand before the class as role models, demonstrating the importance of high-quality instruction and support for students. When students are well supported by their educators in an academic environment that encourages them, challenges them, and causes them to grow, they can begin to dream of how they can do the same for others.

Posted on October 4, 2018 in Starfish Impact School

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