Children are children, no matter where you might be. They laugh, they play, they cry. They ask questions, they answer questions, they try your patience and they fill you with joy. They learn from you and they teach you. Marcia and I, both former educators, offered our time and services to the local elementary school, Hope Town Primary School. We didn’t care what we did, just anything that would help the teachers. We did caution the headmaster that we would be “foul weather volunteers” – if the skies are gray, and it is rainy or cold, we will stop by. He did not mind at all and told us to come any time we wanted; they welcome the extra hands. That was my clue that this is very different than our US schools. Back in the States, we would have forms to complete, interviews, fingerprinting, DCF checks, and so on.
The Hope Town Primary School was founded in 1893 and educates children from kindergarten through sixth grade.
There are four teachers, and each teaches two grades in the same classroom – “preschool” is 4 and 5 year olds, 1st and 2nd grade are together, as well as 3rd and 4th, and 5th and 6th. Mr. Higgs, the headmaster is also the 5th/6th grade teacher. Other than preschool, each class has about 20-22 students.
“Miss Dee” teaches the 1st and 2nd graders. She lives on Lubbers Quarters, an island just south of elbow Cay and comes by boat every day. Rain, shine, windy or calm. Imagine that! To top that, she is alway cheerful, enthusiastic, and ready to help her students learn.
Marcia and I spent a few days working in the school media center/library. A new room had recently been built with a donation from a second home owner. The library held many books, mostly donations from people over the years, but they needed to be organized. We recruited our dear husbands to install two new whiteboards in the media center.
At the beginning of the second semester (January), we helped with benchmark testing, beginning with one-on-one reading tests for the 1st and 2nd graders. Next, we monitored math assessments administered on the computers.
I made number bracelets and introduced them to students during their math centers.
On Saturdays, we have watched the children learn to sail through the Hope Town Sailing Club’s Junior Sailing program. The morning class is for basics -earning to rig the Opti, basic steering and boat handling, and capsize drill. The afternoon class combines Sunfish sailing and Opti racing skills. We have enjoyed watching the children from the docks and from our boat in the harbor as they cruise past us.
It is fun to watch the children as they learn to handle the boats, but sometimes it is a little unnerving as they lose control right near your big boat!
One of the nicest parts of our stay in Hope Town has been the children, both in school and out of school. They are a vibrant part of this community.