-In a survey of 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic had the lowest scores in each category tested.
– UNESCO report on Student Achievement in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“The Dominican Republic has one of the lowest investments in education of the hemisphere.” – USAID/Dominican Republic: Education Sector Assessment
“The school environment is the factor that makes the greatest difference in student learning in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
These data points neatly summarize why it is that we are here, and the last quote in particular sheds light on how Doulos Discovery School is striving to make a difference in the lives of these kids. For kids to learn, they need to be in a school setting where they feel secure and valued, and that is precisely what we provide. Every day the staff starts with prayer, and every week in team meetings we pray specifically for students and seek for ways to address issues that come up – issues ranging from standard educational concerns to broader issues relating to discipleship and counseling for students struggling with ugly situations in their homes, in their pasts, and in the community. Some of their stories break our hearts, but as you can see from the photos, even the school grounds relay a warm and inviting atmosphere for learning that makes our school a safe haven for the students.
Abby and I have settled into the routine of teaching, but the term “settled” is really a misnomer because the pace is rather frenetic. Doulos is pursuing ACSI accreditation this year in an effort to improve the school and give our students better credentials when applying to college. Accordingly, in addition to our classes and related preparation and grading, we are each developing curriculum for all 4 of our classes – and it has to be done by December. Seasoned veterans of the school often remark on how they can see God’s hand in assembling a specially equipped group of teachers for the ACSI task, and we are grateful that the work we are putting into developing curriculum will reap benefits for many years.
On another note, an unanticipated blessing has arisen from a grant we received from the Chiaroscuro Foundation. They provided funding for much needed technology items like graphing calculators and overhead projectors, and the entrepreneurial Senior class is using these projectors to aid in their fundraising. Once a month these students put on a movie night to raise money for testing, visas, and other costs associated with applying to and attending universities abroad, and the projectors enable them to put on a great event in an area where the nearest movie theatre is a 45 minute drive away – if you have a car. They are learning a lot about planning, marketing, pricing, etc., and are becoming quite business savvy.
We are confident that the love and learning being poured into these students will be multiplied many times over as they enter into the world and work to change their country and their culture. We thank every one of you for the role you play in helping to make that happen!
Harley, Abby and the boys