10 12 2010

grad·u·a·tion  (grjshn)n.


a. Conferral or receipt of an academic degree or diploma marking completion of studies.
b. A ceremony at which degrees or diplomas are conferred; a commencement.
This Tuesday was the Graduation Ceremony for the teachers I have spent the past year and half working with in the Literacy Continuing Professional Development Course. This course has been one of my primary projects since I arrived at my site at the beginning of May 2009. The course was designed and developed by a VSO volunteer who had previously held my position, her aim and goal for this course was to train trained teachers (teachers who have completed and graduated from teacher’s training college) to become Literacy Resource Teachers at their schools and Cluster (schools are clumped into clusters with 2-3 other schools located nearby and meet once a month to conduct staff development sessions).  These teachers spent the past 18 months receiving in-depth training on how teach Phonics, Reading Comprehension, Conventional Spelling, and Writing Compositions to their students and fellow teachers. They also spent time looking how to help students overcome reading difficulties. The teachers were required to attend day long workshops where they learned specific content knowledge as well as practicing new teaching techniques and methodologies. They then took the new knowledge and skills and applied them to classroom lessons and staff development sessions, afterward they  recorded their lesson plans, session plans, and personal reflections into a journal. The journals were turned into me at the end of each school term and I wrote feedback and suggestions for them. At the end of the course participants worked in groups and gave presentations on how to write different types of writing compositions, as well as completing a take home phonics test and written final exam.
The participants successfully completed the course in October much to the relief of everyone involved. However, I was still in charge of organizing a classy graduation ceremony. Event planning in Guyana is a serious pain in the ass! Instead of receiving a budget and knowing exactly how much money you have to work with, I had to get quotes from 3 different venues, submit them, and then wait to find out which of the three would be approved. In addition I had to submit requests for donations from local businesses before I could purchase medals and trophies for the top performers in the course. I have been in Guyana long enough to know that NOTHING goes as planned, so I did everything in my power to be as organized and on top of things as possible. Alas, all my efforts were in vain, the day before the graduation, the food had not been ordered, the person in charge of ordering the trophies hadn’t received the notice, and one of the donors forgot they had agreed to donate. No sweat….I ordered the food, rushed and got the trophies handled, and just rearranged donations from a business that hadn’t forgot. Needless to say I was a nervous wreck by Monday night.
Luckily the actual graduation went off without a hitch. Besides starting 25 minutes late (which in Guyana is pretty much on time), the whole things was quite lovely. The graduates all wore burgundy gowns and were dressed to the nines in pretty party dresses and sparkly, strappy heels. Head teachers, friends, and family came to support the graduates and both the Primary Education Officer and the Regional Education Officer made speeches. The media was there and we were featured on the local evening news and local newspaper. Apparently it made a bigger impact than I had anticipated, besides everyone I knew letting me they had seen me on TV, I received a phone call at the office from a teacher in the next Region, who had seen me on the news as well, asking how she can implement the program at her school and in her community. I gave her the name of the Peace Corps Volunteer in her region who is planning on starting the program after the New Year.
After all the hard work that the teachers and I had put into the Course it’s nice to be able to celebrate and recognize all that we have accomplished. It’s also nice to know that I am making a greater impact not just on these incredible, amazing, dedicated, and creative teachers, but on inspiring others who are encouraged and inspired to improve literacy in their community.
top performers of the group presentation and their trophies

posing with the 2009-2010 LPDC Graduates




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