Hi everyone, I am Jen, and this is my second year with the Champions for Health Promoting Schools program. Last year, I was at S.R. Olivia Primary School. This year, I am fortunate to be able to be at Urlings Primary School this year. Urlings has so many amazing teachers, students, and one heck of a gorgeous view of the ocean, that I am unbelievably lucky to be a part of. The students give me so much to look forward to everyday from hugs, jokes, learning their hand games, learning their lingo, to being impeccable students while I teach them Health, and Physical Education. I call Urlings the place of never ending hugs, because the students just won’t stop attacking me with love since the moment I had arrived at the school, until the moment I leave every day. I know for a fact my last day, next week, will be a difficult experience for myself, and my students.
We collectively ,as a group, teach a variety of life skills from the lesson plans we created before arriving on the island. This year, Krystal and I were the curriculum coordinators, meaning that we look over all the first years lesson plans and ensure they were quality plans for our Antiguan students. Watching these plans come to life with our students has been quite a treat. The students have so much fun with our lessons, which makes me have a great deal of fun as well.
Even though we have many life skills to teach, I have personal intentions of what kind of impact I’d like to give my students as well. I struggled many years, when I was much younger, to be who I was, and accept myself for who I wanted to be. Additionally, I never truly was okay with being myself or being confident with how I looked, and I wish that I had the opportunity for something or someone to open my eyes and change my perception of myself. As much as I hate to share my feelings, or talk in depth of how things are going, here I find myself always sharing every part of my day with either my roommates, teaching partner, other champions, or even at our red couch meetings every night. This sort of communication from last year has really helped me to open up who I truly am without any judgment, and has pushed me this year to continue to do so. I use every chance I get with the students at lunch to show them that it’s okay to be yourself, and let them know they should be okay with themselves. One younger girl had come up to me and had said how much she wanted to look like me and have my hair. I said, “You should never want to look like anyone but yourself, because you are perfect in every way.”
Today I had the life skill of positive relationships, and many of my students today truly succeeded at this life skill through the activities we had planned for them. One girl in kindergarten, named Radiance, had instantly helped up two of her classmates when they had fallen. It is these types of moments that really show that we have a positive impact on these students, and makes me want to stay forever. Since literally day one the students have been telling us that they are going to miss my teaching partner, Erin, and I when we leave. Now the time crunching down to when we leave, and my heart is crunching down as the time does. They have filled my heart with such amazing moments, memories, and laughter, that I will never forget for the rest of my life.
Dr. Joanna Sheppard, you have been amazing to let me in to the program again this year, and I am forever grateful. I will cherish everything I have learned, and continue to progress my skills for years to come. Antigua round two has been splendid, but the journey has almost come to an end. Until next time!