I think that I, hands down, teach some of the cutest and coolest kids in the world (or at least in the two countries in which I've taught!).
Joel and I have gone head to head and toe to toe more than once when he decides he decides it will be his way or the highway. After finding himself on the highway a few times, he's become quite a compliant student. This year I'm doing more "formal" evaluations, and have been pleasantly surprised by how much progress he's made. There's no kid I love more.
Judy, named after Judy Kerschner, the founder and administrator of Nueva Vida, is another favorite. When she first came to school two years ago, I could not enter her classroom because she would cry and hide in fear of the "gringa." Now, she runs to my room to work, and never misses a hug.
Many of our kids do not have apparent handicaps, but struggle with learning even basic concepts. While the traditional way to teaching in Guatemala is paper and pencil, with a LOT of copying, these students need to use all their senses to learn. Using activity based learning, concrete objects, and sight words are just some of the techniques we employ to access their learning styles and abilities.
A few years ago when we started this, the teachers would say, "It's time to go and play with Seño Paty." Now they are asking to borrow my materials and for suggestions of different ways to teach the kids who don't get it. These are some of the best teachers I've ever worked with in my career. They do so much with so few resources, but their creativity and commitment know no bounds.
We are privileged to have Saundra, a licensed school psychologist, working with us on a full-time basis. She works individually with children and parents as well as runs groups for children. Her expertise is sorely needed in this town with such high levels of poverty, abuse, violence and alcoholism. Pray for Sandra as she deals with the most difficult situations we face.
One of our goals this school year was to teach the students to serve each other. Below, you see a great example of this. Yamelin, our blind student, is helped to come to my classroom by two of her friends, Macaria and Roxana. It took a while for her to begin to trust them, but they have been patiently faithful in their desire to help her more more independently around the school building. It is a blessing to watch them together.
You can see on their faces how proud they are to be serving their friend.