Knowledge First Aid Kit

Shirley Kinsey Blog 1 Comment

The vast majority of the parents of Nicolas Fund for Education (NFE) children are illiterate subsistence farmers who often speak only their local Mayan language. Spanish books help to increase their children’s vocabulary and background knowledge in Spanish, the language used in Guatemalan public and private schools. Our children’s villages—and the entire Ixil Triangle—lack public libraries, and families rarely own books. In response to this need, NFE has started a book drive program that allows these children—who have never seen a library until now—access to books. This week, we opened our first library—with 103 books—in the village of Belen (Bethlehem in English). We ordered the books, which donors chose on our book drive page, at Sophos bookstore in Guatemala City. Our national director, Ivan España, picked them up and delivered them to Belén. Antonio Lazaro, a village father, generously donated the space from his former barbershop for the small library as well as painting and preparing the room with shelves, a table, and so on. The villagers named their library El Botiquin del Saber which translates to Knowledge First Aid Kit. A lovely sign hangs outside the door. Oneyda, a Nicolas Christian School (NCS) 11th-grade student, will act as the librarian by building enthusiasm for reading, tracking books, and quarantining books between users. The principal at NCS, Professor Braulio Bach Cabrera, spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on opening day. Access to books will help village children succeed in school and in life. It will also impact overall literacy and reading comprehension in the area as the children translate these books into Ixil for their parents and as older children read them aloud to younger siblings. Thanks to our generous donors, …

Exciting Key Performance Indicators at Nicolás Christian School!

Becci Merritt Blog Leave a Comment

Each year, the Guatemalan Ministry of Education administers standardized testing to 11th-grade students and 9th-grade students. Nicolás Fund for Education has only been able to access those results concerning Nicolás Christian School (NCS) since the 2018 results became available. Frankly, those first results were disappointing. None of our students passed the national standardized test. What was more disturbing was that very few students from any school in the Ixil area passed this test. Results in more urban areas were also surprisingly low. Academic Director Bill Safstrom cautioned, “It is important to remember that these tests are aspirational. It is expected that no one will achieve 100% on this type of test.” Bill Safstrom commented that these initial results were helpful because it provided much-needed information on where our strengths and weaknesses were at Nicolás Christian School and “…the data was a place to start”. The evaluation measures the learning of students throughout their educational history. It is not a curricular evaluation but rather an evaluation of basic life skills. NCS Math Scores Exceeded the Guatemalan Ministry of Education Expectations The difference in the students’ average score in relation to what was expected may be because of the work they do at NCS, which is related to the teaching strategies our teachers use in the classroom, Professor Braulio’s educational leadership as Principal, our Christian school climate, and use and creation of learning opportunities. The Ministry of Education takes into account the Socioeconomic and Cultural Index (ISEC) of our students’ families and, based on that information, our average math scores actually exceeded what was anticipated by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education. Challenge Accepted Being a Mayan female student is unfortunately associated with lower …

NICOLAS CHRISTIAN SCHOOL ADDS NEW TOOL TO HELP KEEP KIDS IN SCHOOL

Lavelle Freudenberg Blog Leave a Comment

It takes a village to raise a child! This popular proverb, born out of an old African tradition, may sound like an overused phrase, but nevertheless, it is very relevant when it comes to teaching and engaging the Ixil children in their learning. Many recent studies in nearby areas outline the challenges students face in learning and what stands in the way of retention. Results indicate three groups where improvement can be focused: Motivating the students themselves Training teachers to identify and address individual learning styles and needs Showing parents and families the value of education and engaging them in the learning process Approximately half of the students in nearby areas report that they have considered dropping out of school. The reasons vary. One of the biggest challenges is poverty. Families wrestle with a lack of finances. Many eke out a living making between $2 and $4 per day and struggle to make ends meet. But that’s not all. Students report emotional and psychological barriers, such as apathy, boredom, family issues, and fatigue. But one of their biggest challenges, they say, is discouragement. While Nicolas Christian School cannot address all these problems, we can address some. Beginning in 2020, Nicolas Christian School will begin using the Progrentis software learning program with students in grades 7 – 11 to improve teaching and learning. Generously funded by an anonymous donor, Progrentis focuses on digital information and literacy skills, rather than course content. Utilizing project learning and group work, Progrentis is aligned with the learning targets for each grade level in Guatemala’s Curriculo Nacional Base. Progrentis software does a diagnostic analysis of each student and determines the preferred mode of learning for each …

What kinds of educational services does NFE provide in Guatemala?

Lavelle Freudenberg Blog Leave a Comment

Filling a Much-Needed Gap Nicolás Fund for Education focuses on providing education for the indigenous Mayan youth of the Ixil region of the Guatemalan Highlands. We are filling a much-needed gap in educational services in the region, where the government-funded education in Guatemala averages only four years and ends after 6th grade. Only three out of ten children graduate from 6th grade. Our brand new preschool is showing amazing results; our secondary school is growing; our students are attending school through higher grade levels than in the past and our graduates are going back to their villages with the skills and knowledge they need to build thriving communities. Through scholarships and learning opportunities, we are helping lift vulnerable students out of poverty. They, in turn, are returning to their homes and villages to become leaders and help break the cycle of poverty in their communities. The big news for our secondary school Nicolás Christian School is a new home. In 2019 we moved to new temporary quarters in Nebaj until we can move into our permanent location near Cotzal where NFE has purchased land. Our permanent building should be ready in two years, depending on our fundraising. We are currently serving 124 students aged 7th through 11th grades in leased space at Centro Technologico Ixil (CTI), a building owned by the nonprofit Agros International. What is the relationship between Nicolás Fund for Education and Agros? Nicolás Fund for Education is a 501 (c) 3 organization with a mission to equip the young people of the Ixil region with the skills and knowledge they need to become the future leaders of their communities. Agros is a separate 501 (c) 3 organization …

Volunteer Opportunities:

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As we continue to grow and expand, sharing our stories on social media and our website becomes more and more critical as we reach new people. Some available volunteer positions available are: Story Content Coordinator – If you love sharing and hearing great stories from our villages, then this is the position for you! We need someone to talk to people who have gone on trips and write about their favorite and most meaningful moments and connections with our students and their families. These written stories and associated pictures will be the basis for our newsletters and social media posts. Social Media Volunteer – Are you a social media wizard and want to put your talent towards supporting our kids?  Do you have a young friend who would love to learn how to create a social media campaign for a non-profit? Then join our social media team where we share two or three times a week on Instagram and Facebook!

Praise Report! We’ve Hired a New Preschool Teacher: Rosa Maria Ixcoy from Cajul

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Principal Braulio hired our first preschool teacher, Rosa Maria, this week after a unanimous decision from the hiring committee. She’s spending this month being acclimated to Nicolás Christian School and training to support the specific needs of our villages.  She speaks the native Mayan languages of Ixil (the native language of most of our villages) and Quiche (the native language of San Nicolás village).  Praise God that we found such a wonderful and qualified teacher!

Early Education Pilot Program

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Nicolás Fund for Education is excited about the early childhood education pilot project that will be launching in July 2019 in the village of San Nicolás! This program is being funded through a special grant. We feel investing in early childhood education is critical to building strong foundations that will benefit children throughout their academic experience. Students learn important social skills such as listening, sharing and cooperating, and become accustomed to a structured environment. Early childhood education has been shown to increase a student’s attention span, expand their vocabulary and learn preliminary math skills. Scientific studies consistently show the benefit of early childhood education in terms of enhanced language development, increased reading and math academic scores and cognitive and emotional benefits. These students will have an opportunity to learn some Spanish language. The pilot program will take place in the San Nicolás Early Childhood Development Center, located near the San Nicolás primary school. Nicolás Fund for Education is partnering with a Guatemalan organization called Crecer. Crecer is providing equipment and training for our programs. Beatriz Ruano de Dominguez from Crecer held a two-day training session in May for  Nicolás Fund for Education graduates interested in education, and those students will have an opportunity to work in the Early Childhood Development Center as Teaching Assistants. Bellevue Presbyterian Church Early Childhood Development Director Lisa Phelps organized a book drive for the preschool and parents contributed books that our July 2019 team will be delivered to the school. This pilot program will benefit 14 village families and 26 children between the ages of 0 and 6 years old. Three separate programs will be offered. Parents and children 0-2 years old will gather to learn …

Nicolas Christian School Spotlight: The Carpentry School

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A critical part of the education at Nicolas Christian School is the carpentry program. Started by our country director Ivan Espan, students learn practical carpentry skills to help make them employable after graduating from high school.  Unexpected and even more important benefits are the problem solving and teamwork skills it takes to complete a project. While working with their hands is not a new concept for our students who help out in their families’ fields, the task of making desks and chairs for Nicolas Christian School and the new preschool programs was the perfect challenge for our students.    Check out the beautiful results!