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!