by Derrick Scott
Washington, DC – In an initiative with the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington DC, Community Scholar, Inc., a U.S. based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is hiring Jamaican teachers to tutor students in the United States over the Internet.
The focus of the organization is an effort to increase the test scores of students in the United States of America. We believe that building a community around each student will promote a culture of learning which in turn creates a sustainable environment where students can grow academically. Our target group are 2nd through 8th grade with Math and English being our primary topics,” says Executive Director of Community Scholar, Inc, Robert St. Cyr.
“We will add additional subjects including Geography, Science, History, Music in the new school year to provide a more rounded experience for students,” he continued.
In explaining the rationale underlying the programme, St. Cyr said “the effort was created to address the achievement gap between Black and White students that persists within the United States.
“We chose these grade levels because divergence of academic proficiency begins primarily in elementary schools and widens in subsequent grades. In addition, a mix of volunteers and paid staff are used to tutor individual students and small groups,” the Executive Director pointed out.
He said students are grouped with other students with similar levels of proficiency as determined by teachers in their respective schools. “We also provide a separate assessment especially as we group students who attend different schools,” he noted.
“Recruiting teachers from Jamaica is a strategy designed to help communities both in Jamaica and the United States,” St. Cyr observed.
It is against this background that the Washington based organization sought the assistance of Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States Her Excellency Audrey Marks in securing suitable Jamaican teachers for the programme.
The Executive Director pointed out that “this cultural exchange will pay dividends in many ways for students and the Jamaican based teachers alike:
- Increased academics. Students will get the individualized attention needed for their learning style. Students are not placed into grades, rather students are met where they are academically;
- Appreciation of the opportunities that exist here in the States.
- Self-confidence – students don’t have to compete for attention or be too embarrassed to ask questions;
- Improve their listening skills – the online experience encourages the student to pay attention with little opportunity for distraction;
- Family engagement – studies have shown that family engagement and student achievement are closely intertwined. Parents will receive frequent updates on student progress, unlike most schools where there are only two teacher conferences per year.”
“Because teachers will be interacting with students from different backgrounds, they will be able take those experiences back to their classrooms in Jamaica to add to their academic experience. The ability to work remotely presents an economic opportunity for teachers in Jamaica especially with the limitations the pandemic places on in-person interactions.”
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“This is a unique opportunity for students and teachers alike: It resolves key issues in modern education that tend to leave some students behind. Importantly, parents who decide not to send their kids to school in the 2020-2021 school year can be assured of a solid education during the pandemic. Their children will get the individualized attention that traditional public and private schools simply cannot provide,” St. Cyr concluded.
Ambassador Marks shared that ‘we support this initiative as a model of collaboration that is very fitting for the current virtual lifestyle environment while creating a socio-economic opportunity in our education industry, utilizing technology and the well-known expertise of Jamaican educators.”