Highlights from Summer in Elmina
1-Sue and Toni Return to Volunteer in Elmina.
Our Volunteer Reading Specialists have come back to Elmina to share their experience, knowledge and love for teaching children to read. It is visit #10 for Sue and #5 for Toni. They have two major projects, “Jolly Phonics” and “Reading and Writing Culturally Relevant Books”. These projects are described in detail below.
2-Jolly Phonics is helping over 500 students in 4 schools to learn to read English.
Jolly Phonics is a phonics based reading method that applies sounds and motions to the letters, helping students to sound out words. Nearly 25 of our Pay It Forward students (PIFs) and local teachers have been trained by Jolly Phonics personnel. Tomorrow’s Stars has expanded on this training and uses the method in 4 schools. This enables over 500 students in KG through grade 2 to learn to read English.
3-Grant from “A Seed of Change” helps us read and write books with local content (Culturally Relevant books).
Volunteer Sue was awarded a grant from “A Seed of Change” aseedofchange.org. Our libraries already have many books that represent local stories but for this grant, we will:
- Write our own books for early readers adding our own photos. These books will have English AND Fanti (the local language).
- PIFs will write “career” books. They will interview local people (teacher, seamstress, restaurant owner, etc) to tell their stories.
- We will track reading progress of students and have contests at all four libraries to see which books are most popular and which students excel at reading.
See our A Seed of Change page for details on this great project.
4-Pay It Forward Day hosts 35 University and Pay It Forward students.
A great turnout of students returning to share their experiences. Photos and story below.
Stories and Photos
1-PAYING IT FORWARD!!
Paying It Forward is at the core of Tomorrow’s Stars mission. We identify and support students from 4 local schools based on their 9th grade exam as well as participation in our Libraries, Girls’ Club and other activities. These students attend nearby Edinaman HS. After HS they are eligible to join our Pay It Forward (PIF) program.
Solomon Ewusie our PIF leader
Solo has been with us since the beginning. He graduated Edinaman HS in 2009 and became our first librarian. He earned a BS in Education Management at UCC and is now our Site Manager in Elmina. He currently directs 15 Pay It Forward students. They are assigned to our various education activities. These are: Libraries, Computer Lab, KG Resource Center, Girls’ Clubs, Science Lab and others.
He is Founder and President of Nsoroma, a small non-profit that operates an evening study center at Christ Cares School among other education and development activities. In short, Solo is a leader and his “superpower” is finding common ground so people will work together.
Tomorrow’s Stars requires students to Pay It Forward a minimum of 2 years before they can apply for University scholarships. During these two years, they become more mature and responsible and plan for their their career and dream. This gives them a big advantage over their schoolmates at University. They work harder, manage their time better and become leaders in their class and in academic performance. But this is not all…
Under Solo’s leadership, they each develop a powerpoint about their life and dreams and present to the other PIFs and field questions. They become confident public speakers. They also learn about budgeting and saving (wants and needs) and must have bank accounts for their scholarship savings.
AND THEY COME BACK!! At our PIF day, university students and grads return to celebrate their progress and dreams with the current PIF and HS students. They give great speeches as they tell their stories and are great role models. It is the Tomorrow’s Stars Family!!
Volunteer Dr. Toni Saul came to Elmina for two weeks bringing her 40 years of experience and dedication to helping children read. She spent lots of time with our PIF girls, teachers and Solo to help them assess reading abilities, use Jolly Phonics to connect letters and sounds to reading and help weaker students. Our Resource center is a perfect place for this as we have small groups.
Toni’s strongest message is about reading aloud to children and doing it in an interactive manner to enhance comprehension and love of reading. We do this with a PIF girl (Sharon) repeating with some fanti language to help them understand. It makes their heads nod and hands go up.
Toni also worked with the girls club and shared her career story with the students and teachers. Getting to know the PIF girls and teachers was a highlight of her visit.
Volunteer Sue Gonzalez has been to Elmina many times, always helping the girls’ club, libraries and early readers. Her main project this time was about the A Seed of Change grant for writing (and reading) “culturally relevant” books. See A Seed of Change page.
The PIFs and girls in our schools love Sue. She always has good learning projects with prizes and snacks. This trip, most of her efforts were on the “book project”, but she still had time to take the girls clubs to Kakum Park for the nature hike and canopy walk.
She also presented her story to the girls clubs, worked with our Jolly Phonics teachers and guided (with Toni) our Resource Center PIFs to help them assess the early readers and help the weak ones.
And if that wasn’t enough, she also attended the annual Bakatwe Fishing Festival in Elmina. Sue was making friends everywhere in Elmina.
We gave scholarships to 22 University students last year. Six of them are graduating and going into their required one year national service. I think it is a good idea to get them more prepared for their dream. Here are some of our recent and past graduates.
4-FUN THINGS WE GET TO DO
Our visits to Elmina are filled with fun times with our friends. Here are some photos.