Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Academic-y Updates

We secured Rahul's admission yesterday at the same school that all of the other Residential kids (and 11 of the Education Outreach kids) attend. Admission in all standards higher than kindergarten at this school has been closed for years because there's such high demand and thus there are never any empty spots to fill. So, yey - HUGE VICTORY!

Rahul will be going into 3rd standard, which is still a couple years behind, age-wise, but this particular school has always been great about helping us work with our kids to allow them to skip 1 or more grades at a time if they are capable of doing so. So the bottom line is if he works hard this coming year, he can advance quickly. [I just told him about his school admission and he's currently upstairs, learning number spellings and writing away furiously in preparation...cute.]

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We have just finished conducting end-of-year evaluations for the kids in our nursery program - ha. These are a riot. Videos are forthcoming.

Based on the evaluations, teacher feedback and a wide range of other factors, we will be dividing the kids into three groups - those who will move up to lower kindergarten (LKG), those who will stay behind and repeat another year of nursery, and those who will be in an accelerated kindergarten class (combining the two years of kindergarten into just one). The majority of the students will be moving up to regular kindergarten, but there are certainly some who will need to do another year of nursery. Many of the kids in the repeat-nursery group didn't start nursery school this year until after Diwali, and some started as recently as January, so they will greatly benefit from another year in the nursery class.

On the other end of the spectrum, we were excited to see the rapid progress of some of our older (5-7 year old) nursery students and will be putting them in the special accelerated class so that they can move up to 1st standard a year from now instead of having them spend two whole years in kindergarten.

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There is only a one-week summer holiday for the students in the Education Outreach Centre this year. This is a first for us - in past years we've always given the students and teachers 4-6 weeks off, but we've decided to get a head start on the upcoming year's syllabus over the summer. Not to worry, though, we'll also be running some activities and extracurricular programs for them, so it won't be all work and no play. :-)

The reasoning behind this decision is basically that AIC students come from such disadvantaged backgrounds and family situations that we feel it is necessary to give them a bit of a running start to the school year, if you will. Additionally, with the increasing food insecurity problems we have been noticing in our students' homes recently, we know that closing the Education Centre for more than a month will result in many, many of our students going hungry during that time. So we'll have a shortened summer schedule (10am - 6pm instead of the usual 5:30am - 7pm) to balance everyone's (directors and staff included!) desire for a break from school with the need to continue to support and stay in daily contact with our Ed. outreach students for the duration of the summer.

Also, there is so much to get done in the coming weeks! On the never-ending To Do list right now: working on planning the school and tuition schedules for the centre starting in June, prepping the students for scholarship exams and admission interviews, finishing 10th standard distance learners' board exams, hiring new teachers, resigning contracts with our current teachers, parent meetings, developing IEPs for each and every one of the students, revising and updating student files, handling new Ed outreach program admissions (we've had almost daily inquiries about new program admissions since December), sorting out birth certificates for our document-less kiddos (which is oh, basically all of them...), going through all of the books and educational resources to sort and inventory, and so much more. AND, to top it all off, we have to move into the new Education Outreach centre, which will be another entire project in and of itself!

Whew. Just re-reading all that needs to get done by June makes me tired. But one step at a time, slowly, everything will come together - it always does. And for such great kids, it's hard to argue that the long days and late nights aren't worth it, right?

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