We had one student. The other three were at appointments or simply had difficulties arriving in a timely fashion. Nonetheless, we were blessed by the Palmas Community Church as they brought backpacks for our students and their siblings. (picture on left below)
August 15 – second day of school!
Everyone was present! We kicked off the first day of full attendance with our Science emphasis focusing on the eclipse that will be happening on August 21. All week (well except for Day 4 which saw only one student again as the others were flooded away from the school) we have been talking about galaxies, sun, rotation, revolutions, stars, planets… It has been a fun week in the classroom. While speaking of creation and God’s workmanship, we visited the apartment kitchen above the classrooms to see the workmanship of new cupboards that took place during the summer (center photo above).
We have explored the age of the universe by reading the Bible, created models of the sun, earth and moon to walk through what is a solar eclipse and had a guest speaker who has an interest in astronomy. Our chapel is decorated as if we are walking in outer space (see backgrounds in the photos above and below)— heads in the stars and hopefully provoking the imagination of the endlessness of our universe as well as the endlessness of God’s love.
We created our own stars by making constellations of nails and then wrapping string around them in patterns or in arrays. We read articles about the solar system at readworks.org
We have downloaded various apps to our devices so that we can “view” constellations in daylight and watch as the moon moves closer and closer to the sun. Excitement is mounting as we await the eclipse on Monday at 2:11 our time. We have had some RAIN this week so homework assignments of “observe the stars” were incomplete but we are hopeful that Monday will bring sunshine and blue skies for the event we have been hoping to witness.
Friday afternoons are often a little messy here as students go home early and our adult handbell ringers arrive for practice. This Friday, the students asked questions they had been formulating all week – Aliens? Diamond planets? Blue stars? – which we looked up on the Internet and youtube. How wonderful to have access to those resources! We also had art class and drew very inaccurate representations of the solar system.
All in all, the school year was kicked off and celebrated well. We are thankful for the students we have and prayerful about the staff we need to be able to reach more Deaf children for Christ. The task is daunting as we meet Deaf adults and children with very limited understanding of signed and printed languages… there is the need to begin with the basics of WHO? WHAT? WHERE? before we can begin to speak of GOD and SALVATION. Pray with us for the continuing ministry among the Deaf here.
The semester is continuing on as all good semesters do. For science, we are learning about EXPERIMENTS. Many experiments FAIL – or do not produce the expected results. We packaged eggs and dropped them. 3 out of 4 resulted in scrambled eggs. Our winner, Juan (on the right above) succeeded in packaging his egg so that it was useful later.
In our Bible class, we are memorizing verses about WISDOM. Pray with us that our students will learn to depend on God and His wisdom above all other choices available to them. Pray with us that our students’ lives would not like scrambled eggs… but would be protected by God’s wisdom as they apply it to their lives.
We have been SO BUSY with school that I am afraid I went the entire month of February without a blog entry! I hope you are remembering to pray even when I am lax in blogging.
In February, Betsy, our principal and teacher, was out several days with an allergic reaction on her arm. Of course she did not know that until antibiotics failed and a dermatologist was seen. With the right medications, her arm cleared up quickly and she was able to be back in the classroom.
The students learned 40 adjectives in 2 weeks and completed a 100 item spelling test on Monday February 27. In celebration, we had lunch from Domino’s pizza and also went to a local pool with some visiting friends to work off excess energy. (Photos above.)
Our daily routine includes lots of singing in chapel. The students enjoy choosing their favorite songs on Fridays (#favoritesongfriday ) and today was no exception. There were no less than 8 songs as several students chose more than one favorite. One of the songs today was a NEW song that surprised us all but when someone chooses, we attempt!
Thanks for your faithfulness in praying along with us and in praising God for His continued blessings.
This year, we began with 5 students so rather than open the entire dining room for 7 diners (5 students and 2 staff), we are having lunch together in a staff apartment, family style.
The students are learning to serve themselves a reasonable portion of food, pass the serving bowls and platters and share in amiable conversation. After lunch, they take turns doing the dishes and clearing the table. So far, the students are enjoying the change of pace.
One day 13 of the school year, we added a new student to our student body when we welcomed Edgar back into our classroom. Edgar had been with us when he was 3 to 5 years old and has been away for 7 years. Returning at 12 years of age, he is sadly behind his former classmates even though he had been ahead of several. The system of education here is lacking in resources and though this boy has had an interpreter, his language skills are still not what they could be. He is also unable to write and read. So we are VERY excited to have him back with us. Please pray with us for this little boy’s attention span. Please pray for more teachers so that we are able to meet the needs of the students we have and also to accept others.
We look forward to a new student joining us in October as we have accepted an adult learner who is interested in studying English and his third language so that he is able to do more online learning and perhaps attend university in the States. Again, pray for the potential we see and for God’s wisdom in accepting or denying students.
38 days remain in the 2015-2016 school year. The students have been enthusiastic learners and recently we had seen fruit from their labors:
Maria has learned to smile and say “Please” when asking questions. Mizael noticed that the hours of sunshine are lengthening and explained the tilt and rotation and revolution of the planet. Juan has begun to work faster on his written work and is telling amazing stories (truth and fiction mixed). Larimar is increasing her vocabulary and holding onto the words. The teachers are all excited to see these fruits in the lives of the students.
Paying attention IS a job skill and seeing the students give their undivided attention during class time is also an encouragement.
Of course, we continue to include hands-on learning. After reading Mr Ferris and His Wheel, Juan and Maria built a k-nex ferris wheel as part of their science class. Learning to work together, to follow directions, and to trouble shoot difficulties are also great skills to develop in life.
Pray for the next 38 class days – that the students will continue to grow in knowledge and in application of God’s Word in their lives.
So far, 2016 has been a wonderfully peaceful year. Students are learning – on all levels of learning – academically, spiritually, emotionally, physically. We love to see this.
Below, you will see Larimar working in class and also hanging out in a hammock. One day when she was the last student in the classrooms, we tried out the hammock lounge under the new deck. Larimar enjoyed hanging out with the new workers, sharing jokes and stories and enjoying some relaxed time.
In the other photo, Larimar is working on story telling by creating a “quadrama” (like a diorama with four open corners). She is such a creative young lady and we are so pleased to see her using her talents in ways that honor God. Continue to pray for her and our other students as they learn and grow in His grace.
December 18: we celebrated our end of semester with the families of the students and the Palmas Community Church Outreach Committee. The student handbell choir performed at their best ever much to the delight of the director and those listening.
We had a wonderful leisurely celebration, enjoyed the food and fellowship, enjoyed the culmination of our Godly Ornaments advent series, and exchanged hugs and waves of “See you next year!” as students and guests drove away.
And then we were ready for some Christmas light sightings: Old San Juan and Fajardo both have light displays worth the effort. Saturday some of the staff went into Old San Juan and others went to Fajardo. How lovely to see that the Light of the World is celebrated in our country. Continue to pray that the doors and lights will remain open and onto God and His Word.
Challenging times are coming as policies change and the world responds to godless influences. Pray that Puerto Rican Christians can be a strong influence for God-honoring practices and teachings to remain in the mainstream.
Since school started in August, we have been busily studying and creating some poster projects for friends at the San Juan Community Library. We deliver the projects on Monday September 24, 2015.
The students have been learning WHERE in the world our island is located and how it was first settled by Native Tribes from North America. The Taino People who met Columbus in 1493 were originally from South America. After the Native People, Spaniards (Europe) arrived, then came slaves from Africa. Our little island is a crossroads for FOUR continents.
Some of the students are still mis-labelling the world map exercise we do in Social Studies as part of our regular review (name the 7 continents and Puerto Rico on this map) but they are beginning to have a more global knowledge.
We are studying the refugee emigration crisis in Europe and learning about some of the associated countries in Europe, Africa and Asia. As we learn about our place in the world, I am praying that the children will begin to understand that GOD LOVED THE WORLD SO MUCH THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON (John 3:16).
We are also working on NOUNS and VERBS and sentence structure; a wide variety of math concepts; how to understand what we are reading (WHO? WHAT DID –DO? WHERE did it happen?) and the time line of the Bible.
We estimate that the first Native People arrived from South America around the time that Abraham and Sarah lived. We estimate that the Tainos arrived around the time of Jesus’ birth. It has been a fun first month of school and I (a teacher) am excited to see what comes along in the next month!
Thanks for praying for us. PRINT THIS staff students 2015 09 if you want to know the names of those for whom you are praying.
We are ending the month of August 2015 and the students are still smiling 🙂 As you can see from the photos above, we have 5 students at this time. We are working on place value and trying to improve memory (hence the bottle of glue pouring into a brain cavity).
Five students – and days often feel overwhelming as each of these students could use a full-time tutor. Each has special needs in addition to requiring that their coursework be presented in visual means. So much out of the classroom time goes into preparing powerpoint and worksheets and captioning pictures and developing specific for THIS child activities to help them learn.
Christie Hoeksema just joined us last week. She is proving to be a valuable resource – (1) because she is fresh and new and has energy! and (2) because she can use technology to make worksheets, flashcards, and materials that are time consuming and (3) because she is Deaf herself and can offer insights when all of the Hearies are rather at a loss for WHAT? is being signed to us by our low language learners.
Thanks for praying along with us this school year.
Larimar and Mizael joined Betsy this year at St Croix Deaf Camp. The three of them traveled to STX on July 6 (because their July 5th flight was canceled). They spent 4 wonderful days with the Deaf camp of STX making new friends and loving every minute of it.
Betsy praises God for the opportunity for the team of three to go. The CSCD students were able to share their faith in private conversations and in Wednesday morning devotional time before the camp day began.
The students loved the whole adventure – from billiards to jumping off the cruise ship pier to eating termites under the supervision of Discovery Grove nature trail staff. They are already asking if they can return next summer. Pray with us as we pray for the Deaf of St Croix – that maybe next summer at Deaf camp, we will see some Deaf adults and have more opportunities to share God’s amazing love.