In pursuit of its mission to enhance the standard of living for the local communities within the Punta de Mita area, Peace focuses its efforts on various facets of education, targeting primarily the youngest members of the communities, those that are the most adaptable and the most vulnerable, by participating in their education. Developing their skills, capabilities, competencies and improving their outlook on life is the key to, and the most effective strategy, for improving lives. As a result, Peace has devised a number of educational programs described below, with the following staffing: Coordinator 1, Avanza 1, Campeones 1, English 8, Computer 1, Kinder assistant 1, and Counselor 1.
AVANZA means to advance or to get ahead. This two year program is taught at the PEACE Center, and is focused on children who, for a variety of reasons, are not enrolled in the public school system. The goal is to integrate or re-integrate these children into the public school system and to support their journey towards becoming responsible, stable, contributing and successful members of society. PEACE does this by providing a supportive learning environment that not only addresses the academic curriculum that raises academic skills to appropriate levels, but also on developing study habits and skills, social behavior and meaningful life skills.
For the 2015/2016 school year, Avanza enrollment consists of 19 students from the Punta de Mita area, ranging from age ten to seventeen. In previous 2014/2015 school year, 2 Avanza students were reintegrated into the local public high schools and 4 into middle school. Two of them were awarded a scholarship in a private school in Bucerías, Collegio Bucerias. One elementary student was integrated into the local elementary school system.
In today’s job market, computer skills are critical, and in many ways essential to the advancement of knowledge and education. Due to the lack of computer training classes in the area, Peace stepped up by procuring desk top computers and offering computer classes at the Peace Community Center. The classes are available to Avanza and local high school students. Adult classes are offered twice a week.
The objective of the program is to introduce students to computers and to teach them the computer skills necessary to further their education and careers as well as for their personal benefit and enjoyment.
The computer lab has 14 computers and instructs 83 students/week. Additionally, the computers are available in the afternoons to everyone in the community who wishes to use them. A computer teacher is always at hand and willing to assist whenever needed.
Though the local economy is almost entirely based on tourism, the local public schools did little to prepare their students to function in an environment where knowledge of the English language is paramount. As a result, their students were effectively barred from producing in the local economy and from participating in the thriving local job market. Jobs were filled with bus loads of labor imported from outside the local communities. This prompted Peace to start an English language program in the local public schools.
The English language program was first introduced in 2014 at three of the local public elementary schools (Emiliano Zapata, Corral del Risco and Higuera Blanca) with receptive principals who agreed to allow a limited amount of school time for English study. The program rapidly developed, and within a year, was adopted at all of the local schools, including 3 kindergarten, 3 elementary, 2 middle and 2 high schools. Two hours of English language instruction was a good start and meant progress, but Peace was acutely aware that 2 hours/week were insufficient to achieve proficiency. Therefore, PEACE Executive Director of Peace, Cecilia Paredes, and PEACE Education Supervisor, Ali Elias, with the support of the full PEACE Board, petitioned the Mexican Ministry of Education “SEP” to allow PEACE to teach English 5 hours/week. PEACE’s efforts were hugely successful, and was able to negotiate a signed agreement with SEP. From now on, PEACE will be teaching 5 hours of English at every school in the three communities comprising approximately 1000 students. This was quite a feat and a laudable achievement, as there was resistance at the local school administration level.
Expansion of the English language curriculum required the recruitment of a significant number of teachers, a challenge that was met in short order. PEACE now employs 7 qualified English teachers, all of the teachers attended training workshops to enhance their effectiveness and to make their teaching skills and methods uniform.
Watch Gretell who started with the Peace English Program at the Emiliano Zapata Kindergarten age 4. Now 5 years old, she’s happy and confident to speak English.×
Campeones stands for “Champions”, an after school program created for the most talented, qualified and committed public middle school students selected by both their middle school and PEACE teachers. The aim is to prepare these talented students to enter better high schools in the area, to encourage the achievement of higher levels of education and to ultimately enable them to give back to their communities.
Also taught at the PEACE Center, daily, Monday through Friday from 4:00 to 5:30 PM, the Campeones Program is designed to increase these students’ competency in English language fluency, in computer skills, especially their ability to use Google Chrome Books, and to improve their communications, collaboration and critical thinking skills through community oriented project-based learning.
In the current 2015/2016 school year, Campeones’ first full school year, seventeen students from the three local communities were carefully evaluated and selected based on their ability, capacity and motivation to learn, their grade point average (A or 9.0+), their interest in pursuing higher levels of education, their capacity to grow intellectually and their all around behavior and demeanor. In the previous school year, Campeones started up in February 2015, and two of its first term graduates successfully were admitted with scholarship to Collegio Bucerias, one of the top private schools in the north shore area.
Facilitator & Supporter of Public Schools incentive
Peace not only provides educational support to the local schools, but also material and financial support to keep the schools in reasonably acceptable condition for students to develop their skills in dignified areas without narrow circumstances, so the only thing to worry is to study.
During the 2014 year, Peace accomplished the following:
-Installation of new floors in the six classrooms of Higuera Blanca Middle School.
-Paint for the Elementary School in Emiliano Zapata.
-Secured computers for five local schools through the Fundación UNETE.
-Computer training for teachers in the use of computers as tools for the advancement of knowledge in the classroom.
-Assisted the Fuller family with the building of a kitchen for the Kindergarten and Elementary School in Corral del Risco so that the children of that community are fed a healthy meal and are ready to focus and learn.
-Arrangements for funding and replacement for new floors were made in 6 classrooms at Higuera Blanca Secundaria [Middle School]
-Installation of 3 air conditioners, a sound system and 20 desks purchase for Higuera Blanca Middle School via Litibu Homeowners
-Stove for Emiliano Zapata Kindergarten Kitchen
-Support on fence and library for Higuera Blanca Elementary School
During the 2015 year, Peace accomplished the following:
-A projector for the middle school of Emiliano Zapata.
-A perimeter wall, sport equipment, and paint for the elementary school of Emiliano Zapata
-Stove for the Higuera Blanca Kindergarten.
-Air conditioning equipment for the Middle school of Higuera Blanca, a high-fidelity speaker and 15 desks for students.