Programa Destino (English Preparatory Plus Program)
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English is the language of problem solving. It is the intercommunicator between what is foreign, what is local, what is known and what is new. As teachers of English we are but mediums for connecting people through a mutual linguistic and cultural understanding.
Escuela Adelante is a new school I am developing with my partner, Carrie Valladares, in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Escuela Adelante is a new kind of school--one that is especially designed to fit the needs of a small town like San Juan del Sur and its neighboring city, Rivas. We believe an international education should reflect a crossroads of cultures such as that found in San Juan. The rich biodiversity, history and heritage of Nicaragua, combined with the wealth of language, culture and enthusiasm of a combined local and expat community, present a classroom that we believe is unequaled in scale and opportunity. One branch of our school is Programa Destino, the English Preparatory Plus Program designed to prepare students to enter into quality international schooling available in San Juan del Sur and beyond.
Children ages 6-12 years old follow the well-known Let’s Go curriculum by Oxford University Press, which we have developed into a two year course. The course integrates natural science, life science, mathematics and computer science STEM ESL curriculum, incorporating the arts, social and life skills. Classes are hands-on, eye-opening, interactive and stimulating. We serve a diverse population of local learners, connecting them with top teachers in the field as well as new technology. Our intent is that after two years, students are able to proactively participate and succeed in a greater and larger culturally diverse educational environment. Essentially, we want students to act as active participants in this global village that is our planet earth, interconnected through webs of technology and communication. Through English acquisition and acquisition of the 21st century skills, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity skills, we are preparing our students for something bigger, más allá y más adelante – diverse and quality educational and employment opportunities in this growing global community.
The course is full, with forty-two students total, twenty-one students per class. Each class has a professional certified and experienced ESL teacher but we also rely on our gracious classroom volunteers who support and assist our students throughout the week. We have a waitlist of students, but we lack the start-up capital to serve these students’ needs and to fund a building and fulltime staff. Currently we operate out of the local public library, but our goal is to move to a larger space that has the capacity to support our growing program. Our two main goals are to hire at least one additional full time teacher, a full time administrator, and to make a down payment on a new building space. When reached, these goals will give us the momentum to begin to sustain ourselves.
We are not a charity. We are a school. We are a not-for-profit entity that works to help the community become a greater part of this global village we all live in and share together. We want to encourage creativity, collaboration, connectivity, patience, and friendship as means to success. We want to uplift our students and give them an active role in bridging the gap between what is known and what is new, what is foreign and what is local. We are sure that education is the way forward and we have developed a unique recipe for success in students through the Programa Destino curriculum.
About the Co-Founder, Jaime Hunter:
I have always been interested in language and its affect on our consciousness and interactions with other people, as well as how we view ourselves and the world around us. I learned Spanish as part of my coursework, and doubled as an English major devoting four-years to studying these two languages in great detail. Traveling with Semester at Sea my junior year alongside the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, I was inspired by his work in South Africa with Nelson Mandela to end Apartheid. I am also inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and his peaceful resistance movement, as well as Ghandi and local leaders in my own community such as my father, a Jewish man, and Becky Washington, an African-American woman. Together, they rebuilt the low-income government housing project in our neighborhood, despite the racism that was palpitating the nineties in urban United States east and west coast cities.
My master’s is in Teaching English as a Second Language and my graduate coursework was in adult literacy, education in developing countries, second language writing, language and gender, intercultural communication and socio and educational linguistics. I have worked for the Philadelphia Public School System and the University of the Arts, the University of Pennsylvania, the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Valley Forge Montessori School, as well as other non-profits such as the Mighty Writers and Project SHINE, the Barrio Planta Project and currently Escuela Adelante.
I have ten years experience in the field of education and have filled different roles such as teacher, curriculum developer and director/administrator with all age groups from preschool to senior citizens, specializing in adult ESL education. This last summer I began working with iDTech as Director of the Gaming and Programming Academy at Villanova University and summer two thousand and fifteen I will be Directing iDTech’s Alexa Café at Marymount School in Los Angeles, the first and only all-girls high-technology computer camp. I am currently interested in the fields of second language development, technology, multilingualism and culture, immigration and migration, indigenous language rights, and the effects of globalization. I work to tackle ideas of lingualism, or the idea of hatred against someone because of the way that they speak, their accent, their pronunciation, word choice, gestures or expressions.
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