Jul 19, 2021

Summer School, in English!

Our mission at Yspaniola is to provide high-quality education to the students of Batey Libertad. This typically looks like literacy classes, tutoring or other classes created to help students build their reading, comprehension and writing skills in Spanish. However, this summer, we decided to expand our programming to incorporate a six-week English class directed by our summer intern Emery Turner. 

Most of our students at Yspaniola grow up bilingual, speaking Haitian Creole at home and Spanish in school. Yet many of them are so ambitious that they are eager to learn a third language, like English. And in the Dominican Republic, English is a helpful language to learn for many reasons. 

In the DR, tourism is a very important industry and many of the tourists that visit this beautiful island either speak English as their first language or know more English than Spanish. Therefore, tourism-related jobs usually require their employees to know at least conversational English.   

In addition, there are almost 11 million Dominicans in the world, of whom over two million have a permanent residence in the United States. Many of these Dominican-Americans visit the island regularly or send remittances home to support their family. According to World Bank data, in 2014 over US$4.5 billion was sent homebound from the US to the DR. This close connection between the two nations also motivates students to learn English, as many dream of one day visiting or moving to the United States.

We always aim to keep our classes interesting and fun. We also try to engage as many students as possible, and that’s why these classes cater to older students who have already graduated from our Learning Center programs, or have not been able to attend class this year due to our reduced COVID-19 schedule. We wanted to provide these students with something a little different from our regular programming that we hope will help them in the long-run. 

Our older students at Yspaniola are not the only ones benefiting from the development of these English classes. One of our university scholarship holders, Daniel, is working as an assistant in the classroom alongside Emery. He is helping prepare lessons, translating when needed, and of course, practicing his English.

One of our students, Oriana, said, “I like English class because it is fun and every class I learn more things.” Like Oriana, all of our students want to learn as much as possible! We have had many students ask to join the class, but due to space constraints and COVID-19 restrictions we have had to limit the number of people that can be in the classroom at once. However, we hope to continue to provide more English classes in the upcoming academic year!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our GlobalGiving update. Here at Yspaniola we are so thankful for all of our GlobalGiving Donors. It is thanks to your support that we are able to provide classes like these in the community of Batey Libertad! We can’t wait to update you on our progress as the year goes on. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@yspaniola.org.

Warm Regards, 

The Yspaniola Team

Mar 23, 2021

Spring 2021 Report

Striving for quality and inclusion

 

At Yspaniola, we envision a Dominican Republic where all students can access inclusive, high-quality education. The difficulties and disruption of 2020 greatly impacted our work, however, in February 2021 we came back to our socially-distanced, COVID-safe classrooms with great energy, striving as always to find new ways to strengthen our preschool programming. 

 

Our preschool classes aim to help our students to develop basic literacy skills, as well as other key cognitive and non-cognitive skills such as socio-emotional, problem-solving and motor skills. All these abilities have proven to be crucial in building a foundation for lifelong learning capacities as children grow. This work all underpins Yspaniola’s aim to encourage children to become happy learners and community leaders with a will to share their learnings and be creative in overcoming the obstacles that life will bring.

 

We have also recently been working to review and update our education metrics as we strive to provide high quality literacy and skills training. Based on both our internal curriculum and international best practice standards, our newest set of learning goals will help us to better track our students' progress over time and zero in on activities to build key skills. 

 

Each Thursday, our preschoolers have “Reading Hour”, where their teachers conduct a readaloud of one of their favorite books. Followed by a related activity. In February, our students celebrated International Mother Language Day with a book entitled “Haiti Is”, by talented Haitian-American author Cindy Similien. Amazingly, Cindy was able to call in to our session and speak with the students!

 

The bilingual read aloud allowed students to discover and discuss their Haitian cultural heritage, and the beauty of haitian landscapes. For many, Haiti is the country where their parents or grandparents were born, or sometimes where they were born themselves. For others, it was an occasion to discover more about the culture and heritage of their classmates. 

 

As always, Yspaniola is deeply grateful to all of our GlobalGiving donors. Your support is critical to the success of our organization and the continuation of our programs. We will update you on our plans for 2021-2022 school year in our next report. In the meantime, we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting us and following our work!

 

-The Yspaniola Team.

Links:

Nov 5, 2020

Innovative Literacy Training During COVID

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dominican government declared that the 2020-2021 school year would be fully virtual. Although the government promised internet and tablets for all homes with children enrolled in the public school system, they have so far been unable to fulfill this commitment. In many communities, including Batey Libertad, students must rely on radios or televisions where available, or simply working from home in an exercise book. 

Students in Batey Libertad already faced great challenges to learning. The local public school is greatly lacking in both staff and learning resources, leading to many students struggling to master basic reading and writing skills. The distanced-learning plan imposed in response to COVID-19 has put the responsibility for students’ learning on their parents, asking parents to create home environments suitable for learning and to explain the tasks laid out in workbooks. This system disproportionately disadvantages the majority of students in Batey Libertad, whose parents mostly did not graduate from school, and who cannot provide their children with the books, resources, and study spaces they need to learn. Now more than ever, Yspaniola’s supplementary, literacy-focused classes are vital.

Funds from our GlobalGiving donors have been used over the past months to keep our talented local staff on payroll and work with them to design novel, proactive teaching plans that ensure that learning can continue. We have restructured our programming to provide daily, small-group literacy lessons for our youngest learners and learn-at-home competitions to keep older students academically engaged.  

Our small-group, in-person literacy program provides classes for groups of three-to-six students four times a week. Students wear masks, wash and sanitize their hands regularly, and undergo temperature checks before each class. The classes of students ages six through twelve  have been highly successful, with students regularly gaining familiarity with letters, words, and sentences. 61 students have enjoyed in-person classes since they began in late September.

The other students usually in our classes have been provided with biweekly, learn-from-home competition packets. Each student is provided with an envelope containing a series of challenges relevant to their age and reading level, and the best work each week is rewarded with prizes and certificates. Return rates of the competition packs surpass 80% weekly and reflect consistent learning for our students.

Yspaniola has not let literacy learning halt during the COVID pandemic. As always, we continue to address barriers to our students learning and assure their safety during the process. We are so grateful to all the donors who have funded these initiatives aimed at ensuring that students attain and retain literacy.

 
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