Collaboration with Teacher Mentors Abroad in Santiago, Dominican Republic
Educators at the primary and secondary level in Dominican Republic have a difficult time. Training for teachers is very basic and they are not paid well. Working in schools with too many students and not enough resources, they are challenged every day. As well, the opportunities for upgrading their skills and learning new techniques are very rare and expensive.
Teacher Mentors Abroad (TMA) is a Canadian organization working to change the quality of education in the DR by offering workshops to school teachers and teaching them new skills and techniques to share with their colleagues and use in the classroom. A team of Canadian teachers travel to the DR each summer to deliver workshops to their Dominican colleagues. The workshops are offered to Dominican teachers during a week in July in the capital city of Santo Domingo. The workshops are free for the Dominican teachers, but if they travel from outside the city, they must pay their room and board.
Santiago is the second largest city in the country and experiences the same challenges to training and skills development. CAFE decided to try and expand the TMA program to teachers in the Santiago region and collaborated with TMA to make it happen.
Starting in 2012, CAFE sponsored two teachers from the Santiago area – Carlos Luis Martinez and Juan Ysidro Cabrera - to attend the TMA workshops in Santo Domingo. Both found the workshops excellent and have incorporated the strategies learned into their classrooms. This is the seed that led to the ability to bring the workshops to the Santiago region.
In early 2013, CAFE board members, Juan Pablo and Betty Anne, along with the two teachers, made presentations about the TMA workshops to a number of elementary schools in the Santiago area. An additional five teachers were sponsored by CAFE to attend the TMA workshops in Santo Domingo in summer of 2013.
By 2015 the first workshop was hosted in Santiago with 36 participants. It has continued to grow over the years and now we have 15 trained mentors representing Santiago and La Vega and the number of workshop participants has grown to around 200 and has expanded to include secondary school teachers, administrators and technical support staff.
As interest and capacity has grown, TMA and CAFE started reaching out to other local institutions to get more support. In 2017 CAFE started partnering with the cultural centre Centro Cultural Eduardo Leon Jiménes (Centro Leon) who was very impressed with the presentation and goals of the TMA workshops and offered their support through donating materials to participants. In 2019 Centro Leon gave a presentation to workshop participants on Arts in the classroom.
In February 2020, Centro Leon hosted a symposium presented by a TMA / CAFE partnership where Dr. Beverly Freedman, a well known international expert in education from Canada, presented “Excellence and Equity in Education.” It was attended by nearly 100 educational leaders from all levels across the region, to discuss ways of improving the quality of education in the country. There was great enthusiasm and engagement by all participants. CAFE looks forward to continuing collaborations with Dominican and Canadian organizations to provide quality opportunities in education.