Hello From the Other Side by Kevin Ruggles

9 05 2016

Hello everyone!

My name is Kevin Ruggles and I am one of the undergraduate students here in Antigua. I have spent the past 2 weeks teaching at Five Islands Primary along with my teaching partners Christine and April. Today marks our 17th day on the island meaning we are just past the half way point of our journey. This leaves a bittersweet feeling in my heart as I have had such a great time building relationships with the students yet it is becoming evident to me that our time here is nearly up.

This trip has had a tremendous impact on my life as it marks the beginning of my career as a teacher. What has become clear to me after working directly in a school is that we, as teachers, are constantly learning something from our students. For example, whenever we arrive at school, the students greet us with warm smiles and hearty hellos. This serves as a reminder to me to just simply have fun. There are times where we forget about how fortunate we are in life and the children’s enthusiasm to be at school to learn and play with us gives me the energy to keep going despite being at the ripe old age of 23. In all seriousness, the students look up to us as role models and I feel like, for one of the first times in my life, I am making a difference in someone’s life.

As for today, we were presented with some new challenges at school. As you may know, the STAMPers who have been working alongside us here in Antigua have just recently departed. This made today the very first day that us undergraduates taught at school without their help and guidance. Several students at Five Islands approached me today and asked where teacher April (our STAMPer) had gone. When I told them that she had to return to Canada, the students were genuinely upset. This just goes to show how much of an impact this program has on this country. The fact that 20 or so students were missing a teacher they only had for 2 weeks is a testament to how much work Dr.Sheppard has done to establish a community of impactful teachers here. Although it was a busier day without April, I was able to get some insight as to what a full working day looks like for a teacher. This makes our experiences in the schools so humbling because, although there are moments where things do not go according to plan, all of the Champions here are always learning something new.

“Mistakes are proof that you’re trying”.

I would just like to take a moment to thank Joanna Sheppard for all her help during the course of this trip. This program flourishes as a result of her passion and hard work and her leadership has served as inspiration for all of us here. Also, for those of you who comment send your love from all over the world, I want you to know that your words of encouragement keep us strong and united. I would also like to thank my family: including my parents, sister, brother, and girlfriend who are always supporting me and sending me their love. I love and miss you all but there is still work to be done!

Sincerely,

Kevin Ruggles


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7 responses

9 05 2016
Jenelle Atkinson

Kevin,
What a beautifully written post! Us STAMPers are missing all of you already, but we know you are doing an amazing job there and are proud of everything each of you have, and will, accomplish.
You have recognized the impact that this program has on the island and have conveyed it so well in this blog post. It truly is an honour to be a part of this program, especially this year, with such a strong, supportive group of Champions.
You will make an exceptional teacher and this experience is only the beginning of your growth and successes as an educator. Live in the moment!
Keep up the great work Champs!

11 05 2016
Kevin Ruggles

Thank you for your kind words Jenelle!
It was a pleasure to get to know you and hear about your experiences in education. I really appreciate all the insight and help you have offered me which just goes to show what a great teacher you are, always looking out for others. Those of us who are still on the island are definitely missing the presence of all of you STAMPers. However, with the guidance that you and the rest of the TEPs have given us, we know that we will be able to make these last few days count!
Kevin

9 05 2016
Gary Ruggles

Kevin, it sounds like your short time in Antigua has had an impactful affect on your desire to teach children. What a privilege it has been for all of you to gain this teaching experience so early in your journey as teachers.
Continue to soak up this experience, you will always remember this as a turning point in your life!
We love you, and will see you soon, ps, mom loved your Mother Day Wishes!
Dad

10 05 2016
April Iguidez

Kevin, thank you so much for your sharing your reflections with everyone! It was an honour to be in Antigua teaching with you and I’m not just speaking cliché sentiments. You are making a difference in the lives of those children as they have also impacted your pedagogy as a future teacher. You are making a difference with the teachers as they see the embodied passion that burns inside of you for teaching with excellence. You are making a difference with the team because you are constant learner – a sponge soaking up wisdom wherever you can find it.

Continue to keep your eyes open to what your environment is teaching you and avoid being on auto-pilot. Experiment, make mistakes, learn, and take time to stand back and enjoy your students and growth as a teacher. I am sending you and the team tons of positive thoughts and energy as you finish the next two weeks strong.

11 05 2016
Kevin Ruggles

Hello April,
I can’t even begin to thank you for all the things you have done for Christine and I. You are an excellent leader in and outside of the classroom which is something that I really admire. After teaching with you and hearing your feedback, it has become very clear to me that I will never stop learning. Every class is different from the last and be able to recognize my mistakes and learn from them is something I hope to improve at.
I look forward to sharing some funny stories with you when we get back home!
Kevin

10 05 2016
Lexi

Fantastic reflection Kevin. It was always a treat to hear you during our red couch meetings, the way in which you are able to internalize your experiences and reflect back on them is incredible. This is such a powerful attribute to have, continue to practice this as you move forward in your teaching career.

I really appreciate what you mention about learning from your students. I think that is a very powerful realization. We are not teachers if we are not able to learn from our students. They are the ones who inform our practice, as it is their needs we cater to daily. I also believe that all of our students are brilliant, but if we are not willing to listen, there can be nothing gained from that brilliance. Continue to be open to learning, and expanding your philosophy.

I have no doubt that you and Christine are doing wonderfully well. Miss you all dearly!

11 05 2016
Kevin Ruggles

Hello Lexi,
I want to thank you for your comments as all of you STAMPers have had such a major influence on how we undergraduates perceive the education system. Because this is my first time teaching, your thoughts, comments, and suggestions during red couches and in my time talking to all of you have helped me grow as a teacher. You are absolutely right about all students being brilliant and I will be trying as hard as I can to bring out the best of the students here in Antigua as well as in the future!
Kevin

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