By Derona Burkholder
The bell rings, the kids race to class, and the teachers are there to greet them. This sounds like normal school in the States, but this is a school (escuela) at NPH Honduras. Today, we were lucky enough to attend school with the pequenos. As we walked to school, I thought about what school is like for me as a teacher and wondered how similar or different the school at NPH is.
I received my first sense of how different the school setting was as we walked through the entrance. Most days my students and I are greeted by staff and friends (amigos). In our case today, we were greeted by a herd of cows. Yes, I did just say cows. This was not the only time we encountered a herd of cows. As we sat on the steps during recess, we were met by the same cows as they came down the hallway, off the ledge, and into the courtyard. Very different, but this is one part of the kids' school life.
The school offers so much more than I originally thoguht. They have a beautiful, well-kept library where the kids can read current literature. In honor of St. Andrew, Pattie provided books to donate to the school library. Yolany, the NPH librarian, was so honored that she stamped each book that showed "this book is in your hands out the the generosity of St. Andrew of Renton." As we left the library, we strolled down through the hallway to the dentist. The dentist was well equipped with chairs, dental equipment, and x-ray machines. When each child comes to NPH they receive a full dental check-up and cleaning. Then kids keep up their daily cleaning and regular check-ups. This is a little different from my school because we don't have a dentist down the hall.
Today our main job was to help Michelle, a second grade teacher, paint hats with her students. When I first walked in I noticed the similarities between Michelle's and my classroom. There is a number line, alphabet, student work, and a reading center. Much of this was made by the students or teacher, using creative things. For example, the bands for the students' hats were cut from cereal boxes. Unlike me, I can just grab paper from my supply cabinet. Some of the supplies are donated by others or just brought in from the teacher.
As a final thought about my experience with the school I want to share with you a conversation I had with a new volunteer. Talia is a recent graduate with a degree in education. As I sat around the table we discussed her plans about how she was going to set up her first ever classroom and the lesson plans she was going to have to create with no curriculum. This experience is very different than my experience, but one thing is the same: the excitement and anticipation of the teacher's first classroom is there!