The Learning Center is host to Yspaniola’s education programming in Batey Libertad. With two full time teachers, one part time teacher, and four Teaching Assistants from the batey, Yspaniola serves over 50 children and young adults from the community. While most of the youth who attend the center are enrolled in public school, the quality of instruction in the school is low and students often complete primary school unable to read at the most basic level.
While the primary focus of the Learning Center is to increase the children’s Spanish skills, our curriculum also focuses on creating a healthy child development environment by building reading comprehension, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. In addition, given students’ varying literacy levels and facility with the Spanish language we place special emphasis on individualized attention and regular assessments of individual abilities and progress.
To accommodate the varying skill levels of the children in the batey, Yspaniola offers four different classes in the Learning Center throughout the day. Our LC staff uses various methods to assess learning outcomes. In addition to administering their Early Grade Reading Assessment once a year (EGRA) the teaching staff uses teacher created assessments and the Reading A to Z System to track student progress and help students understand their reading level and see their own progress over time.
The Center also offers English classes in the evenings to yound adults. Finally, every Friday the center hosts free reading hours, where everyone in the community can come and read or borrow books from our library.
Meet the Teaching Assistants!
“I like to see how much students improve, step by step. For example, Martin was not able to read at all and now he is, in just such a short period of time. This is why I want to become a teacher, and this is why I’m preparing myself in the Center since now”.
Rosalinda Yemo, 15 years old.
“I’ve learned that controlling a kid is not about using the force, rather, it’s about understanding what he or she thinks and feels, and then act accordingly… it’s impressive how a students’ behavior changes when this is done”.
Daniel Joseph. 13 years old.
“I love working with Yspaniola because I can help the children in my community improve their learning skills at the same time I learn new leadership techniques”
María González. 16 years old.
“I’ve learned to be patient with children, to be reciprocal with them, to support them so they can see the value of their education for their future; my community deserves this”.
Santa Yan Derivieres. 16 años.
History of the Center
In early 2012, Yspaniola interns started an informal tutoring program in an outdoor space to provide primary school students from the Batey the opportunity to practice reading and writing outside of school. Tutors brought books and other materials for students to work with and made lessons open to all children interested in participating. A number of youth from the community also helped tutor when their schedules permitted. Children enthusiastically welcomed the chance to read fun books in a relaxed environment, which previously was difficult given the limited resources and space in the community, and because the local school has children in the classroom for only a few hours each day. Through community meetings and focus groups with residents of Batey Libertad, it became clear that there was great interest in creating a Literacy Center. After finding a building in which to house the center, as well as painting, equipping, and decorating the center with members of the community, the Batey Libertad Literacy Center was inaugurated in July 2012.