Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

School News

September 17, 2012

Local educator presents program on Belize mission

CROSSVILLE — Ashlee Ritzko, Homestead School assistant principal and president of the Beta Lambda Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, returned to a rural area of the Cayo District in Belize this summer for a second year to become part of PathLight International’s teacher training conference at Jaguar Creek.

She shared her experiences from the conference with her Beta Lambda colleagues at their first meeting of the year held at Pleasant Hill School.

PathLight International, founded in 2007, attempts to assist teachers and administrators  in places where educational systems need support and children and families are living in poverty. In 2008 with the blessing of the Belize Ministry of Education, the first teacher training conference was held at the rural Jaguar Creek Center with ten teachers in attendance. Due to the program gaining growth each year, it has now trained over 150 Belizean teachers. These teachers are now leading over 3,000 Belizean students.

Ritzko pointed out that, “Belize struggles with a significant lack of trained teachers. In the rural primary schools it is not unusual for at least half of the teachers to have only a high school education. Fortunately, these wonderful teachers have a heart for their students and seek to further their education and skill.”

One of the twenty volunteer educators from North America, Ritzko participated in workshops on “Cooperative Learning Strategies” with reading, classroom management, and hands on science. She explained that the North American participants prepare for several months, purchase their own flights, and pay for their housing, transportation, and meals while in Belize.

Each year the topics for the workshops at the conference are  based on the input from the Belizean teachers who attend.

Reflecting on the conference, Ritzko says, “While fulfilling my desire to serve others and use the talents God gave me, I gained a broadened perspective, and the opportunity to experience a different culture was invaluable.”

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