After retiring from 30 years of teaching school I didn’t think I would have another “Back to School” time. But, here I am in Abaco, Bahamas preparing for back to school. Through Many Hands, I supervise the ARK Program (Academic Recovery for Kids) that runs out of the only public elementary school in the Marsh Harbour area. Because of Hurricane Dorian followed closely by COVID-19, many children missed 3 years of school. The ARK program will pull about 80 kids from their classroom once a week for intense reading and math instruction to build those foundational skills they missed. My summer was spent preparing a reading and a math curriculum for the program for grades 3-6.
Last school year I was able to spend 3 months in the school piloting a smaller version of the ARK program. During my time there, I realized the school has not had a library for almost 7 years. Through generous donations we have received 1500 books to begin a school library. It is hard for me to grasp that this school year the 6th grade students will come to a library for the very first time! An inventory of 1500 books divided among 600 students does not go very far, so I am hoping this year we can add 1000 more books. Twice a month during library class all of the students will have a short biblical based Character Education lesson.
There is a lot of work that comes with opening a library. First, is the obvious of shelving, organizing and entering the books in a library management system. But, there will be the task of guiding the teachers through how to use the library to enhance the learning experience in their classroom. Finally, the students don’t understand recreational reading and reading for growth. So it will be a slow, but glorious, growth process over the next several months for all of us. The ARK program and the library are welcome additions to the public school. The administration, teachers, students and parents are very excited.
This school year I will work alongside a Bahamian teacher who is as dedicated to The ARK program and the library as I am. God has brought together so many people and opportunities that you can’t help but wiggle a little in anxious anticipation of what He will do next!