Having a FUN year!

Whoa! Where has all the time gone? Hard to believe that we’ve got less than a month left of our first term for the year! Well, we’ve been so busy learning and having fun that I haven’t had a chance to make a blog post. We have posted a few things on Facebook. Make sure you follow us there because we tend to update that a bit more than these blog posts. Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to!

Assembly

A portable, wireless speaker was donated to our school. This has been such a huge blessing! Now everyone can hear announcements and speeches during assembly, and it’s been awesome to be able to quickly pull it out, put on some music, and just let everyone dance!

Class VII student giving a speech during assembly.

We also have been bringing out a guitar (which was also donated to our school) for assembly to accompany our songs. It sure is wonderful to have everyone singing along at the same time!

Easther Miss leading us on the guitar.

Singing competition

We had a singing competition in April. We really have some talented students!

Sports Competition

Our students loved the sports competition. Students competed against each other to win points for their house.

Book Balance Race
Three-legged Race
Sprints
Pass the Ball AKA Hot Potato

Looking forward to many more fun times like this one!

We’re a Quarter of the Way There!

I am so excited to tell you all that we have raised $25,432 for our new school building! This is about 25% of our goal of $100,000. I would like to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who has donated so far! You are awesome!

We still have a ways to go to meet our target, so if you have been thinking about donating and haven’t yet, I would like to encourage you to do so now. Every little bit will help us reach our goal. You can see the details about our project and how to donate in this post here. This new school building will allow our growing school to move out of our house/my mother-in-law’s house and into its own facility. We’re getting crowded and need some more room to grow!

Meet our Staff and Students!

Our year is well under way here at Lillyfield Academy, so its time to give you a quick view of our school family this year!

We have 104 students this year! We are super excited to have crossed the 100-student mark! This year we have Classes Nursery-Class 7 (10 different Classes/Grades in total).

We have 11 teachers and 1 assistant teacher. We are hoping to add an additional assistant teacher sometime this month to help with our LKG (Lower Kindergarten) class.

Here’s a look at the kids and teachers!

Nursery – 12 students

Reena Miss has years of experience loving our littlest students, and she does an awesome job. Marina Miss is helping her out again this year. We have been able to add many toys and educational materials for Nursery this year. These kids are having so much fun that they don’t want to go home at the end of the day!

LKG (Lower Kindergarten or Pre-K) – 17 students

This is one of our biggest classes, and they are keeping Lakpa Doma Miss busy! We are hoping to add an assistant soon to help her out with all those little ones. Lakpa Doma Miss will be finishing up her Diploma in Elementary Education (D. El. Ed.) this year.

UKG (Upper Kindergarten or Kindergarten) – 15 students

Priyanka Miss was an assistant last year and has come on this year as a full teacher, and she’s doing a fabulous job. She can be found all day with these rambunctious, curious UKG students.

Class 1 – 7 students

Rebecca Ma’am, also the school principal, is the class teacher for these 7 students. When she’s not teaching English to Class 1, she can be found teaching English to many other classes, as well as Class 6 and 7 science.

Class 2 – 16 students

Sushma Miss is our newest teacher, and we are so happy to have her. She is doing a great job as class teacher to this talkative bunch and is also teaching Nepali and EVS. She is also finishing up her D. El. Ed. this year.

Class 3 – 8 students, Class 4 – 3 students

With only 3 students in Class 4, we have put Class 3 and 4 together this year. Sujata Miss is their class teacher, and she also teaches EVS and English Writing to other classes. She is also finishing up her D. El. Ed this year.

Class 5 – 11 students

We have several new students in Class 5 this year. Easther Miss is their class teacher; however, she is out until April, so Sheela Miss is filling in for her until she returns. With a Masters in English, Easther Miss will be teaching Class 5-7 English reading and writing as well as some computer classes.

Class 6 – 7 students

Susang Miss is the class teacher for these wonderful students. She is experienced in Nepali and Hindi and will be teaching these subjects to many of our older students.

Class 7 – 8 students

Our oldest students have Bibash Sir as their class teacher. He has an MBA and is a math wizard! He makes numbers make sense for our Class 2-7 students.

Our final two teachers are not responsible for any particular class, but that certainly doesn’t make them any less important!

Hanna Miss teaches English writing to Class 2-4, social studies to Class 6-7, as well as some computer classes.

Nim Diki Miss teaches maths, EVS, and Hindi. When she is not teaching, she is in the office managing our accounts. She is also finishing up her D. El. Ed. this year.

So, there you have it! All those beautiful little minds ready learn and explore this year, and the teachers who are willing and ready to take them on that adventure! We are so excited for everything that will be going on this year, and we can’t wait to share it all with YOU!

First Week of 2019 Session

Our first week typically involves getting new students registered, getting books and supplies for students, and trying to figure out classrooms and teachers. We threw in teacher training everyday this week, so students were in class half the day and then the teachers were in training the other half. All of this made for a very busy but fun week! I love getting to see all the students again! Reminds me why I do this.

Bibash Sir and some of our other teachers: Marina Miss, Hanna Miss, Easther Miss, Lakpa Doma Miss, Sushma Miss, Sujata Miss, Reena Miss.
Susang Miss with Class 3&4.
Hanna Miss playing some games with UKG and Class 1 students.
Class 2 students playing Bingo.
Class 6, 7, and LKG students drawing pictures.
LKG students playing with finger puppets.
Reena Miss and Marina Miss with some of their Nursery students.

Passang sir has been hard at work trying to get our new Nursery and LKG (Lower Kindergarten) classrooms ready. They’re almost finished and the are looking great! Should be ready to use by Monday!

It’s a wonderful start to what I’m sure will be a fabulous year!

5 years and GROWING! (Partner with us to help us grow even more!)

We started Lillyfield in February 2014. That means that 2018 was our 5th year and we will be starting the 6th school year in just a few days!
Look at how much we’ve grown:

  • 2014: 16 students. 2018: 88 students. We are enrolling students for 2019 and will likely have over 100 students this year!
  • 2014: 4 different grades. 2019: 10 different grades from Nursery (3 year-olds) to 7th Grade.
  • 2014: 3 teachers. 2019: 11 teachers and 1 assistant.
  • 2014: Library of less than 20 books; 2019: Library containing over 2,000 books!
  • 2014: 3 classrooms and 1 office all in our house. 2019: 10 classrooms, 1 office, 1 staff room, and 1 store room in our house, Passang’s mother’s house, and Passang’s sister’s house.

Clearly we are growing – so much so that we are outgrowing our facilities! Thankfully we have land next to our current location that we are ready to build on. Unfortunately we don’t yet have the funds we need to construct a building. Can you help us raise these funds?

Here’s a look at our current location and future plans.

We are trying to raise $100,000 for this building project. We need to raise the money by the beginning of fall 2019 so that we can begin building during the dry season (fall-spring).

Here’s some information about the building project

  • Two phase plan. Phase 1 to start in fall 2019.
  • Phase 1 will be a two-story building approximately 45’x60’ – big enough to accommodate all our current classes.
  • Expected cost of Phase 1: USD $100,000.
  • We are raising funds in the US and locally in India.
  • Building will be a reinforced concrete structure with brick and mortar walls. We are located in a very earthquake and landslide prone area making it extra important that we build a school that can withstand potential natural disasters.
  • Due to our location up in the hills, far away from large cities, costs for supplies are quite high.

Here’s how you can donate (online or by check):

Note: All US donations will be provided with a tax deductible receipt as long an address is provided. Donations from outside the US can be accepted but are not eligible to receive a tax deductible receipt.

1.    Online (donations online are charged a small fee by PayPal)

You will be donating to Care Ministries which has partnered with us to collect funds for this project (be sure to write a note to make sure the funds go into our account).

Go to https://www.paypal.com/donate/guest?token=7e2qratq2psLUQI_Y4xxdaxdPR3BhuWYlqevZGzPJjqqgKoUG41BDzFGdHLBDHsCloECGG. As you are filling in your information, click on “Write a note” button and type “For India School” so the donation goes into our account. Provide your mailing address to ensure you receive a tax-deductible receipt.

2.    By Check

Make checks payable to Care Ministries, Inc
Write “For India School” in the memo line so the donation goes into our account.  Send checks to:
Care Ministries, Inc.
1328 Veterans Parkway
Murfreesboro, TN 37128

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at rebeccajsherpa@gmail.com.

Thank you SO much for your support! Every little bit will help us reach our goal and be able to provide a safe, spacious place for the students of Lillyfield to learn and grow!

-Rebecca

We’re not slowing down!

We’ve had a busy couple of months at Lillyfield. Here are a few of the exciting activities we’ve had going on!

Independence Day
Indian Independence Day is the 15th of August! We started out independence day this year by hoisting our flag and singing the National Anthem.

Students praying to start the day.
Unfurling the flag.

Next, we all went down to Sombaria for the festivities there.

Students and teachers enjoying the programs.

Lillyfield Academy students participated in the cultural dance competition by presenting a Nepali dance. They placed 3rd in the competition, despite being, by far, the youngest group of dancers to compete!

Two of our Class 5 boys, Kewal Subba and Palzong Tamang, took first place in the Class 5-8 boys 3-legged race! Running down the field, they looked like they weren’t even tied together.

Some winners – Abir Subba, 2nd place in balloon burst. Kewal Subba and Palzong Tamang, 1st place in 3-legged race.

Abir Subba, a class 4 student, took 2nd place in the Class 1-4 boys balloon bursting competition.

Boys getting ready for balloon bursting.

Aisha Subba, a class 3 student, took 3rd place in the Class 1-4 girls sweet picking competition.

Girls getting ready for sweet picking.

Teachers’ Day
We celebrated Teachers’ Day at our school with many different activities including:

  • Giving kadas and gifts to teachers.
All the teachers with kadas and gifts.

Various groups of students performed Hindi, Nepali, and English dances.

Christeena Sherpa, Chahat Subba, Aisha Subba, and Nancy Sherpa performing a dance to a Hindi song.
Lazunla Sherpa dancing to a Nepali song.
Mayalmit Lepcha dancing to an English song.

Groups of students performed Hindi, Nepali, English songs.

Boys group singing a Nepali song.
Girls group singing a Hindi and English song.

A speech about Teachers’ Day from Class 5 student, Karma Tashi Buhtia.

Karma Tashi Buhtia giving a speech about Teachers’ Day.

Our principal, Mrs. Rebecca Sherpa, gave a speech and parents competed against the teachers in a game of pass the ball. The winner was Principal Rebecca Sherpa.

Teachers and Parents playing pass the ball.

We ended the celebration with lunch and an open dance floor.

Students and Teachers dancing after the program.

Class 5 and 6 Hindi and Nepali skits.
Class 5 presented a Nepali skit entitled “Bhuddi ko Bal” – “Knowledge is Power.”

Class 5 Nepali skit.

In this skit, a tiger which was trapped in a cage persuaded a man to rescue him, but when he got out he tried to eat the man. The man pleaded his case to passing charters. He asked sheep, a goat, and a tree if the tiger should kill him or not. All the characters said that men take from them without gratitude or concern for their well being so it is fine if the tiger kills the fox. Lastly, he asked a clever fox. The fox, pretending not to understand the situation asked them to show him what happened. The tiger goes back into the cage to explain, and the man and the fox leave him there.

Class 6 presented a Hindi skit, “A Real Story about Panna Dai.”

Class 6 Hindi Skit.

Panna Dai was the servant of an Indian Queen. She looked after children in the household. One day an assassin came and killed the queen. He tried to kill the baby prince as well, but Panna Dai gave him her own son, saying he was the prince. She took the real prince away and saved him, but she sacrificed the life of her own son.

Class 1 Non-Fiction Reading Unit
Class one celebrated everything they learned during their non-fiction reading unit. They wrote sentences telling something they learned from from one of their books and then posted the sentence and the book in our hallway.

Class 1 standing in front of their non-fiction books.

Students Wrote Letters to Diana Ma’am and Ken Sir
To finish off their time learning to write letters, students wrote to Diana Ma’am and Ken Sir in the USA. Then we mailed them. Mr. And Mrs. Lilly were thrilled to read the letters from all the students.

Teachers Getting Ready for Teachers Training Program
The government of India is requiring training for all teachers. Our teachers have lots of experience but no training. This means that, in order to continue teaching, all of our teachers will have to complete the 2-year diploma course. The course is specifically for in-service teachers which means they will be able to complete it while working at our school, but the fee is Rs 12000 – about quadruple the monthly salary of most our teachers. The course starts on October 3rd, and the teachers are excited to begin this training.

End of Our First Term

Wow! Hard to believe the first term for 2017 is almost over! Exams started today and school will officially be out for the two-week summer holiday on June 25th. A lot has happened in the past couple of months. Here’s a quick look at what we’ve been up to.

New Teacher

We brought in a new teacher at the beginning of May. Bibas Thamang recently finished his MBA and has several years of experience tutoring students. We hired him to teach most of our math classes, and he is doing an excellent job. Many of our students are quite week in math so he has a big challenge, but he’s up to the task. He’s also our first male teacher, and our older boys are thrilled to have a guy to play football with. His wife is also a teacher at our school. We are so happy to have both of them as part of our Lillyfield family.

Environment Day

June 5th was Environment Day. This year we walked together along the road to a small park abut a mile away, picking up trash along the way. We then did some weeding and planted saplings in the park.

As beautiful as our Himalayan village is, it is sad to see the amount of garbage people carelessly throw on the ground. Many people are not educated about the harm that garbage can do to the environment. Only recently has it become more common for people to throw garbage in a trash can rather than on the ground. When we educate the students at our school about taking care of the environment, they take that knowledge home with them to their families.

 

 

 

Student Slide Show Presentations

Class 5 has been learning about making slide show presentations in their computer class. Last Saturday they showed off what they have learned to our school through a slide show presentation on a topic of their choice. We had two groups. One group taught us about volcanoes, the other group presented sharks. Thankfully we had good electricity and the groups were able to present on our TV. At the beginning of the year, most of the students had never used a computer before. We are very proud of all the students and the skills that they have learned this term.

Selfie Prop Making

Every Saturday we have classes until 11:00 and then have an hour and a half for some kind of activity which the teachers plan. One week the teachers decided that we would all make selfie props. As you can see from the pictures, the students (and the teachers) thoroughly enjoyed it!

Summer Holiday

Our students are currently taking their first term exams which will run until June 24th. Then school will be out for summer holiday until July 10th. We wish all the students, teachers, and families a very fun and safe summer holiday!

March Wrap Up

March has been our first full month of this year, and a lot has been going on!

Hand Wash Demonstration

     

A local health worker came to give a demonstration on the proper way to wash our hands. We are so thankful to her and our local Panchyat (local government official) for taking the time to come to our school, explain the importance of washing our hands, and give us a wonderful demonstration on how to properly wash our hands. We now have a line of students, everyday at lunch time, waiting to use the soap and water before they eat their lunch! Yay for clean hands!

Lots of reading!

    

Many of our classes have finished up their first reading units of the year. Returning students are used to reading books and talking about the stories everyday, but students new to our school often find it different and surprising. Many of our new students this year had never picked up a story book to read on their before.  Our first steps are usually to simply teach them how to choose a book that’s good for them and what to do with it once its in their hands.  This is both difficult and exciting work!

Lots of Writing!

A short story by Class 1 Student Sanjok Rai who is new to our school this year. “I go to home.  I go to Bazaar with mother.”

Many of our classes have finished up their first writing units, as well. As with reading, writing can seem very strange to students new to our school. In other schools, most students are never given the chance to do their own writing until at least Class 5 or 6.  Even at that point, their writing in school is generally limited to reading text books and answering questions rather than composing their own stories or reports.  In our school, the students learn to draw and write their own stories and informational pieces from the earliest grades.  Once students become familiar with the process, it typically becomes one of their favorite subjects. They love having the chance to tell their own stories on paper. We often hear moans throughout the class when the bell rings for break or games at the end of writing class.

US Visitors

Ken and Diana Lilly (father and mother of Rebecca Sherpa) have been visiting for the past week.  They have been helping out in many of the classes, working with some of our struggling students, teaching subjects, and having fun hanging out with the kids.  The students, who know them as Ken Sir and Diana Ma’am, are having a blast working with them.  It’s always a treat for us to have them visit our school, and we will all be sad when they leave this week.

Donations

As soon as Karma Bhutia, a Class 5 student, saw Diana Ma’am he ran up to her and asked, “Did you bring any books?  Chapter books?”  Of course she did.  Ken Sir and Diana Ma’am brought over 300 books, lots of bins to keep books in, a variety of school supplies, instructional materials, and a television (we will be using this to watch movies and display student presentations)!  These items were all donated by friends and family members from the US.  We are so grateful for their contributions to our school, and we are excited to have all of these wonderful supplies!

Professional Development

As well as working with the students, Diana Ma’am has also graciously given her time and expertise to do two days of professional development for the teachers. Traditionally, the teaching style of teachers in our area is quite different from that of teachers in the US. Lillyfield teachers don’t have experience using many tools or activities for teaching. Diana Ma’am taught us about the different learning styles of students and then demonstrated a variety of activities, games, graphic organizers, and teaching strategies that they could use to help reach all students.  It was a eye-opening experience and a ton of fun!

First Week

We had a great first week of our school year here at Lillyfield.  The students are excited to be back to school.  The Teachers are excited to start in on the wonderful work of teaching.  And everyone is excited about our awesome new paint job!


Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to.

            
UKG (Kindergarten) Students arranging letters.
Class 4 learning Hindi with Deepmala Miss.

 

Class 5 learning Math with Easther Miss.

 

Class 1 learning Nepali with Reena Miss.

 

Class 6

 

UKG Students working hard on their stories during writing workshop.

 

UKG Students Ringzoam, Elizabeth, and Sohina posing for the camera.

Getting Ready for Year 4!

Yup!  We’re less than 1 week away from the 4th year here at Lillyfield Academy.

Hard to believe we’ve already got three years behind us.  With the new year coming, we’ve been getting in text books and supplies, planning curriculum, hiring new teachers, enrolling new students, and making LOTS of improvements to our classrooms.

We started enrolling students last week.  We have about 55 students right now and expect to get at least a few more in before school starts on February 20th.  Last year we had 42 students, so we have lots of new students this year!

We’re adding a class (grade) to our school this year.  We will have Class Nursery (3yr olds) through Class 6 (6th Grade).

We’re also adding a few new teachers.  Two of our teachers from last year are not returning this year (due to family problems), so we are having to hire replacements for them as well as a new teacher for our new class.  We are also hiring an assistant to help out in Nursery.  We are very excited to have the new teachers joining us!  We are still looking for a teacher who can handle Mathematics as none of our teachers have great math backgrounds.

One of the things I am most excited about is our new English Curriculum this year.  We were, very generously, donated some brand new Reading Curriculum this year.  It is called The Units of Study in Reading and is based off of a workshop model for teaching reading.  If you don’t know much about teaching – that basically means that the teacher gives a short lesson to all the students and then the students take out their books and read, read, read while the teacher goes around meeting and instructing individuals or groups of students.  I have mostly been teaching my reading and writing using a workshop model, but had very little idea of what to actually teach the students during the teaching time or what to do to help move them to the next level in their reading.  This curriculum will give me those tools, plus a whole lot more.  For someone who is trying to teach without any formal training in teaching, it really is essential.

This curriculum is also completely different from anything students are normally taught in this area.  Here students are typically taught through a question/answer/memorization method (the teacher gives the questions and answers, the students memorize the answers and regurgitate them for the test).  Even the idea of students getting to read out of something other than a text book is practically unheard of, especially at the primary level.  The really exciting part for me is that two of our teachers who are young, eager, and have great English are interested in learning these methods from me.  This will be the first year that I will have local teachers also trying to teach with a method that includes more critical-thinking.  It’s exciting, but also a little scary.  The local teachers have never even encountered something other than question/answer type teaching so learning a whole new style is going to be a bit of a challenge.  However, if it proves to be doable for them and beneficial for the students, it would open us up to many more possibilities for our students and teachers in other subject areas as well.

With this type of teaching comes the need for LOTS of books for the students to read.  We are so thankful for the generosity of many, many people in donating books through our Amazon.in book drive this year.  We have added over 30 brand new books to our library!  Thank you to everyone who donated!

While I have been getting our curriculum and teachers lined up, Passang has been hard at work sprucing up the school.  We moved our office to a new room, added two new classrooms and a storeroom, and he is right now putting a coat of paint on almost everything!  This paint is really needed since painted wood doesn’t tend to mold as quickly as untreated wood, and during the wet, warm monsoon months mold is our biggest enemy.

The teachers are coming on Friday, February 17th for a couple days of meetings and training, and then school starts on Monday, February 20th!  We are super excited to get started teaching and loving all of our students this year, and to see what God continues to do in and through our school!