Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Seven years

The AIC Education Outreach Program has been running for seven years as of last month! It is amazing to think back on all that has happened since summer 2006...

Back when the Education Outreach Program consisted of a small group of girls and was run out of our volunteer apartment
However, there is still so much more to do in our communities, so we can't linger down memory lane for too long before getting down to business! We have recently made many changes in our efforts to continue to improve the quality of educational services provided at the Education Outreach Centre. To spearhead these changes, Mary Kay Hazel has been appointed the new Director of Education Development to work alongside Bunty, our Education Outreach Program Director. This means that, for the first time in its history, AIC now has an employee whose singular focus is to analyze and improve the quality of our largest and most impactful program! Mary Kay and Bunty are a passionate, dynamic duo on the ground and have worked together to implement several new initiatives, including:
  • hiring a study hall teacher to provide additional homework help sessions for any AIC student;
  • investing in new computer resources to support the needs of the administrators, teachers, children and volunteers within the Education Centre;
  • instituting subject-specific teaching workshops to introduce teachers to newer techniques and best practices for specific concepts and subjects.
To better meet the emotional, personal and social needs of the children, our new counselor, Suchitra, transitioned from her role as a member of the teaching staff to her new job at the start of the new school year.  Suchitra has been a part of AIC for a number of years now while working through a college degree and most recently, a Master's degree in Psychology. She has a separate office so that she can hold regular counseling sessions with children who need additional support. She has also commenced sensitivity trainings and seminars with the teachers.  We are happy to know that we can now better support the emotional and mental health needs of the children, and that we can do so in a sustainable way by investing in our staff.

The Education Centre was closed to students for break during the month of May, but teachers and staff utilized the time to plan the upcoming year, arrange and catalog books into a library of resources to be used alongside teaching, and participate in basic computer and internet training so that they will be able to more effectively use these tools to access teaching resources and enrichment materials for their classes. They will continue this training and exposure throughout the year. We have also begun mandatory spoken English classes twice a week for the Marathi-medium teachers, and their spoken English skills are rapidly improving. As of in June, each teacher is also now required to spend an additional one to two hours of preparation time per day at the Education Centre. We have already seen improvement in our teachers’ daily lesson plans and attention to administrative tasks, grading, student evaluation, and classroom preparation.

Onward and upward we go!
We have also had a truly fabulous team of volunteers (thank you, thank you, thank you!) on the ground lately and would not have been able to make as much progress without their hard work and dedication. There is more on the horizon that we are excited to share soon!


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