ON Wednesday, October 2, 2019, a wide cross section of educators successfully completed a Teachers’ Resource Guide Workshop hosted by the non-profit organization Hands Across the Sea in collaboration with the Early Learners Programme. The programme was executed with support from the Sandals Foundation along with the Ministry of Education.
Participants included classroom teachers, Special Education teachers, school Literacy Co-ordinators, District Literacy Support Coaches, School Librarians, Early Learners Programme Coordinators and an Adaptive Life Skills teacher.
Attendees explored a Teachers Resource Guide (TRG) to the Library which shares strategies to motivate students to read at school and at home. The publication was developed by a wide cross section of Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Educators, affiliates to Hands across the Sea as well as other international stakeholders. Copies were distributed to the island’s primary and infant schools in 2018.
Hannah Knecht, Programme Director at Hands across the Sea and workshop facilitator says the teaching tactics are aimed at building within students, a lifelong interest in reading. “The workshop highlighted to teachers, how to integrate books into their lesson plans across the curriculum by sharing practical activities with books from their libraries that they can use with their students in hands-on, engaging, and meaningful ways.”
Teachers, Knecht noted, “were also provided with evidence to show the direct correlation between pleasure reading habits and increased student achievement.”
Brenda Nicholas, one of the teacher participants of the workshop who teaches at the Lady Gordon Opportunity Centre explained, “This is one of the best workshop’s I have attended. I enjoyed meeting so many of my peers who all strive to help students become lifelong readers. I will definitely be using the book dating activity for both students and teachers. I also plan to use two of the suggestions for posters to show students how to work as team members and with a partner. In the next few days I will be sharing with my colleagues at my school, my experience and knowledge from this workshop.”
Chief Education Officer Fiona Mayer who led a delegation from the Ministry of Education, said, “the workshop continues our development and growth as a nation in terms of reading and literacy. We want to encourage our young people, our teachers and our community to know that the reading of fiction, nonfiction, for pleasure, for entertainment, for information—becomes a big part of what we do as a society. We applaud the fact that we have local individuals who are experienced educators leading the charge in St Lucia along with our international and regional counterparts.”
Sandals Foundation has supported the Hands Across the Sea since 2013. In that time, over US$90,000 has been invested to fund upgrades and purchase of new age appropriate books for 28 libraries in the Eastern Caribbean.
Heidi Clarke, Executive Director at the Sandals Foundation says for the 2018/2019 academic year, the Foundation, “joined Hands through their literacy link to purchase 12 Remedial Reading Tool kits which target students in high school who are reading below their grade level.”
The Sandals Foundation, Clarke says, “Is committed to continue working alongside Hands Across the Sea to improve literacy levels for students of all ages as we believe that reading is the foundation for success in all other areas of students’ academic life setting them on the path for prosperous futures.”