This year marks the sixth year that students from Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada have been assisting at the Every Child Counts School. Nine students have been working at the school for the entire month of May.
In past years the groups, which have been a little larger, have consisted of students from both the Social Studies and Early Childhood Studies faculties but this year the nine students were all from the Early Childhood Studies faculty. These young people, all of whom this year happen to be female, are in their third year of study apart from one student who is in her fourth year. All have had some teaching experience and one already holds a full-time teaching position in Canada.
All of the students have participated in courses in disabilities and have gained experience with placement in classrooms for children with disabilities. They have also received much training in curriculum planning.
At ECC the Ryerson students have all been teaching in different classrooms not only giving group lessons but also working one-on-one with the children in language and mathematics. Their activities within the school have been varied and have included time working on the school’s yearbook, helping organize a fun day and assisting with the swim team at a meet in Hope Town. Also they have participated in the important task of assessing the ECC students using the Wiat scale to assist in student placement for next year and have attended school staff meetings.
In addition to the their classroom work the students were taken on an educational tour of Abaco by their Professor, Ms. Jean Golden, which included visits to Marsh Harbor, Dundas Town, Central Pines, Spring City, Cherokee and Pete’s Pub in order for them to get a broader view of the different settlements and villages. While in Cherokee JoAnn Bradley gave them a talk on social services in Abaco. A visit was also made to Little Angels Academy where school Principal, Barbara Johnson, spoke to the students on a variety of topics one of which concerned conditions in the Peas and the Mud.
While at ECC the students had the opportunity to interact with various volunteer groups which included a missionary group from Ohio who completed a variety of odd jobs, and a group of between 40 and 50 volunteers from Florida who painted the school and constructed a canopy out back. They also observed a group of students from Howard University with their Professor Dr. Shameka Johnson, who conducted speech therapy exercises. All of these experiences gave the students an insight into how the school sustains itself and how vital all these volunteer services are.
It was not all work for the students for they had some time to hit the tourist spots and visited Treasure Cay, Guana Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Man-of-War and Hope Town. They were also taken on a sailing excursion on the Shearwater by their Professor, Jean Golden.
All of the students agreed that this had been a great experience and certainly an eye-opening one for them. They became very attached to the ECC students, enjoyed their work at the school and say they want to come back. Two former Ryerson University students who were herewith a group a few years ago made the decision to come back so Alishia Liolli and Denise Griffith are now full-time teaching members of the school staff.
The Ryerson students all stated what a happy place they had found the school to be and spoke of the empathy they had experienced with the children. They wished to thank the school for all the help they had given and especially Principal Lynn Major who they said welcomed them with open arms. They felt so much a part of the school community that on the day on which I interviewed them which was actually their last day at the school they were tearful at the thought of leaving the students they loved.