Press release from Evergreen Community Charter School:
ASHEVILLE – Evergreen Community Charter School is hosting six Guatemalan teachers from Nov. 30 through Dec. 8 to share educational practices and knowledge as they create a new school for families living around the Guatemala City garbage dump.
Safe Passage is a nonprofit organization that has been working “to empower the poorest, at-risk children of families working in the community of the Guatemala City garbage dump, by creating opportunities and fostering dignity through the power of education” for over 17 years, with an overall goal of helping them gain meaningful employment and break the cycle of poverty.
What began as an after-school program to supplement the classes provided by poor local schools (currently helping 500 students) is now becoming a full-day school, one grade at a time (starting fifth grade this year), to provide a more active, hands-on, interactive approach to education than available in local Guatemalan schools.
As these students move into primary school, Safe Passage has begun using expeditionary learning as the methodology to guide its program based on the success of this approach in similar disadvantaged areas in the U.S. expeditionary learning is a hands-on, active, experiential approach that uses project-based learning and “expeditions” to get students out of the classroom and into the community to deal with real issues and bring together analysis and points of view from natural science, social science, math and language arts — and incorporates small advisory “crew” groups to address personal and social issues.
Implementing expeditionary learning is a major challenge for Safe Passage given the limited preparation of most Guatemalan teachers (most have only the equivalent of a 12th-grade education) and lack of experience with this type of education, and there are few local resources to draw upon. As an EL Mentor School, Evergreen Community Charter School is proud to offer its expertise and knowledge to Safe Passage. Evergreen’s expeditionary learning teachers will provide their experience in implementing this methodology through exchanges of teachers and administrators that focus on school culture, management of classrooms, teaching techniques, “crew” advisory groups, and developing and leading learning expeditions.
Over a two-year period, teachers from Evergreen and Safe Passage will visit each other’s sites and set up an electronic classroom, where students will participate in learning about each other, and specific courses.