Teachers Make a Difference by Arden Holmes

25 05 2017

Dear family, friends, Alumni Champions and supporters,

 My name is Arden Holmes and I am a 2nd year champion at Pigotts Primary School. I taught at Pigotts Primary School, along with my teaching partners Amrit Cheema and STAMPER Kailie van Santen. I am graduating in June with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology. In the fall, I will be returning to UFV to begin the 1-year Bachelor of Education program, to become a certified teacher.

This year, I took on the leadership role of Curriculum Coordinator. My amazing colleague Marissa Corea and I were in charge of guiding the 1st year Champions to each write 10 lesson plans for teaching life skills. Throughout our month in Antigua, a part of my leadership role was to coordinate the use of our life skills curriculum by distributing the lesson plans to each set of teaching partners. My goal was to ensure every school had the opportunity to teach as many life skills as possible in the month, and that each lesson plan was used at least once. For me, taking on the role of curriculum coordinator, editing lesson plans and working directly with each Champion to help them achieve their best work, has helped me grow both personally and professionally.

Yesterday was our last regular teaching day in each of our schools. Although this meant saying goodbye to the students and staff of Pigotts Primary for now, I know that this certainly won’t be the last time I see them. Today, we had the privilege of attending the Antigua & Barbuda’s Union of Teachers Annual General Conference. The room was filled with the Principals and teachers of many public and private schools in Antigua, as well as representatives of the Executive Board, the teacher’s union of Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Education International.  The theme of this year’s conference was supporting teachers. The union expressed solidarity with its teachers in striving to increase the value placed on the teaching profession. The Minister of Education, Michael Browne pledged the ministry’s continued “energetic support of education in Antigua and Barbuda.” Last year, the ministry was successful in achieving the largest portion of the national budget they ever had. Through this financial support they achieved a significant achievement, the beginning of a partnership with the University of the Western Caribbean to train two cohorts of Special Education teachers with a Bachelors and Masters of Special Education. This goes along with the commitment voiced at last year’s conference, that the schools in Antigua and Barbuda will become better equipped to work effectively with students with special needs. Another significant achievement was the Ministry of Education providing complete financial support for its teachers to upgrade their training to a Bachelors or Masters in Education or an education related field.

Mr. Ashworth Azille, President on the union, responded to the Minister of Education, with the State of the Union Address. He argued for the well-being of Antigua and Barbuda’s teachers, Principals and support staff. He quoted one of my favourite TED Talks, What Teachers Make by Taylor Mali. He said, teachers make a difference and despite what anyone tells you, teachers have a very important job and they matter in this world. Mr. Azille reminded us that we need to continue to strive to reach each and every student, and see them as valuable and unique individuals. Many students, in Canada, in Antigua & Barbuda, and around the world face adversities at home, and come to school seeking solace. Teachers have the opportunity to provide that safe space for students to feel welcomed and accepted into a classroom community. Attending the conference was a great experience and I am so thankful to have has the opportunity to attend.

 In conclusion, as our month comes to a close I want to express how proud I feel to have been able to participate in this program for a second time, and to take on the role of Curriculum Coordinator alongside Marissa Corea. The Champions program is a high quality program, starting from the creation of lesson plans, to every interaction we have in our schools and in the community while here in Antigua. The opportunity to participate as a teacher and teammate to the 2017 Champions is an honor for me. I have enjoyed collaborating and sharing this experience with all the Champions.

Thank you Dr. Sheppard for the opportunity,

Arden Holmes
Pigotts Primary 


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