Aula Mágica Guatemala Update, April, 2014
New faces, new possibilities
2014 marks a new chapter for Aula Mágica. There are new faces, more children, new community partnerships and we now have a Facebook page (Aula Magica Guatemala). Most importantly, we are proud that our unique educational model promotes creativity, innovation, language, cognitive development and social skills for children of low income and rural communities in Guatemala.
In the month of February, Aula Mágica welcomed Jhonathan F. Gómez to the team as general coordinator. Jhonathan has many years of experience working with community and non-profit organizations in Guatemala and the United States. He has worked in various projects that promote youth arts education, immigrant and human rights. With the support of the Aula Mágica team, he will help structure the program, design and implement a documentation and evaluation strategy, and move forward a formal six month program that will begin this May. He looks forward to seeing the program grow and is particularly looking forward to the program being translated into Mayan Indigenous languages.
At the end of February, we held a week-long training for new teachers and we are happy to report that eleven people participated. Lucy Días, an experienced and accomplished teacher and longtime collaborator of Let’s Be Ready designed and facilitated the training. It was a wonderful gathering, full of unique experiences where teachers learned new skills, shared their knowledge and their experiences about preschool education. Many more teachers are interested in participating in the program and we are in the process of planning another training at the beginning of May.
San Pedro La Laguna, Sololá
Following our February training, we began a five-week pilot program with the participants. The goal of the trial period was to document and evaluate new educational materials and activities, which complement the Aula Mágica audio recordings that are used to teach preschool children. In addition, we created and implemented a new process of evaluation and documentation through written evaluations and regular meetings with the teachers.
San Pedro La Laguna in Sololá, on the beautiful Lake Atitlán has become our base, due to the fact that the majority of the teachers live there. Five teachers successfully finished the five-week program with an average of seven students per classroom. There has been so much interest in the program, that a teacher from San Antonio Chacayá, a village an hour away from Santiago Atitlán, who was not able to attend the training, joined the program. Zeneida Dolores Ixmatá, one of our star teachers, as well as the other teachers in the program, trained the new teacher so she could become a part of the pilot program.
The month of May is looking to be our most promising and productive month yet, as we prepare for a three-day new teacher training in San Pedro. We are expecting over twenty participants that will come from the areas of Quetzaltenango, Totonicapán, San Juan La Laguna, Santiago Atitlán, as well as San Pedro. Following the training, the participants will start a formal six month program beginning in May and ending in October. Also in May, Zeneida Dolores Ixmatá, or Lola as she likes to be called, will join the Aula Mágica staff as regional coordinator and will work closely with Jhonathan to grow and implement the program in Lake Atitlán and other areas. We are grateful that Lola has accepted the invitation to join the staff and are looking forward to working with her. She will continue to work as a teacher in order to guide the program with first-hand experience, as well as coordinate the teachers in the Lake Atitlán region.
Language translation into Indigenous languages is in its early stages but with the support of the San Pedro teachers, we have begun to evaluate and edit the scripts of the audio recordings. The community library Rijatzuul Naooj in San Juan La Laguna is one of our strongest supporters and collaborators with the translation. We are confident that in the upcoming months and with their support, we will successfully translate our programs and materials into Maya T’zutujil. We believe that once we have a few audio programs recorded, their scripts and the corresponding educational materials translated into an indigenous language, it will help us understand the process and make the translation into other languages easier.
We have many more things planned for 2014 and are delighted to be meeting the goals we have set for ourselves. Our interactive and dynamic program encourages teachers and children to move beyond the four walls of the traditional classroom. Aula Mágica is proud to be an alternative educational program created by people from Guatemala for the people of Guatemala. As we grow, we continue to seek opportunities for collaboration with communities, organizations and individuals who are committed to improving preschool education.
There are many ways you can support the work of Aula Mágica in Guatemala. One very important way is by making a monetary donation through Global Giving. To find out more about the program or to learn about other ways you can support, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your support.