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Douglas County Schools administrators and teachers partner with Belize teachers and education officials

HIGHLANDS RANCH - A group of teachers and education officials from the Central American country of Belize spent the week observing Douglas County teachers and discussing how to better improve literacy in their country.
 
They are part of a program called Belize Education Program (BEP).  The program was started seven years ago by Mammoth Heights Elementary first grade Teacher Jean Kirshner, while she was on a medical mission trip to the country. 
 
Kirshner visited one of the Belize schools and volunteered to help with literacy efforts. In the years since, the effort has grown as more and more Douglas County teacher volunteered to support the program.
 
For several years now Douglas County School District (DCSD) teachers volunteer to spend their Fall Break at Belize schools and in the spring a group of teachers and principals from Belize come to Douglas County to observe our highly talented teachers at work. Plus, BEP has raised thousands of dollars for books and school supplies to support the mission.
 
The effort was recently noticed by the Belize government. Education Ministry leaders have been looking at ways to integrate the best practices implemented by BEP into schools throughout the country, so they accompanied their teachers on the trip to Douglas County to see how DCSD teachers teach reading and writing.
 
“Writing is a major problem in our schools, in our country,” explained Chief Deputy of Belize Ministry of Education Carol Babb. “Over 50% of our teachers are untrained, they struggle with methodology and knowing how to get ideas across, so this collaboration will be good for us.”
 
DCSD teachers from Fox Creek Elementary, Mammoth Heights Elementary, Prairie Crossing and Cresthill Middle School demonstrated the effective literacy teaching techniques they use everyday while the Belize contingency observed and took notes. 
 
“I have gained a lot of classroom management, we are not only listening but seeing how it’s done and that is a great help to us,” Belize teacher Auner Arango said. 
 
“I have learned a new strategy to show my students when I go back to Belize that will make writing fun,” Ceci Salam added.
 
DCSD teachers and administrators involved in BEP have contributed countless personal hours and finances to make the program successful. 
 
The program has also contributed by stimulating the minds of DCSD students exposed to the program. 
 
“We talk a lot about our students being globally competent, we talk about all the skills we want them to have and us modeling that is the highest level to offer,” said DCSD Superintendent Dr. Liz Fagen.
 
The Belize contingency also had a rare treat. A Colorado spring snowfall blanketed the area a day after their arrival, so they had the opportunity to experience snow—for the first time.  Many of the educators, who are used to a more tropical climate, took a small break from the task at hand to take pictures and frolic in the snow.
 
The Belize teachers were in Colorado for a week, from April 21-28. As they wrapped up their observations and discussions, Babb summed up her thoughts.
 
“I think we all learned a lot and I think our schools will be better off because of this visit and the lessons we’ve seen,” Babb said.
 
Learn more about the Belize Education Project at BelizeEducationProject.org 
October 14, 2013 | By Anonymous | Category:

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