The satisfaction of seeing a classroom built, of seeing a school expand and grow delights us. The process of building and constructing is satisfying because we can see transformation occur step by step. What starts as a dirt lot turns into a foundation ready to be built upon, a four-walled structure rises, a roof is mounted, flooring is laid, walls are painted, and the classroom begins to take form. Desks are added, chalkboards hung, murals begin to cover the walls, and the students come. Day by day and week by week something visible, something measurable is being formed.
The building or improvement of classrooms is a huge part of what we do, but the impact of what happens inside those classrooms and inside the hearts of students is often the most significant part. It is difficult to measure, but fascinating to witness. School proprietors are our “customer” because they are receiving loans to improve and expand their school, but at the end of the day, our purpose, drive and motivation is to reach students. We want to impact the lives of students by building character in the classroom, which is why we also offer training, follow-up and improved curriculum options.
I have been visiting schools here in the DR for about seven months now. Some teachers and directors were trained a year ago, some were trained six months ago, but all of them have been receiving follow-up sessions to help them implement new curriculum. Change is never easy and so follow-up sessions are a key element to ensuring that a new curriculum or teaching methodology sticks and actually impacts the lives of the students. I can’t show you pictures of the step-by-step progress occurring in a child’s heart, but I can tell you that I have seen transformation. The other day I was at an AMO follow-up session at a school in San Pedro. We were talking with the school director, asking if students are enjoying AMO so far, and if he has seen any changes in them. He started telling us about a few students who have been greatly impacted, but then stopped and called some of the kids in that were walking by his office. He introduced us and asked them to tell us what they’ve been enjoying about AMO. One young boy said that his favorite vocabulary word from AMO is “potential” because he realized that God has given us all the potential to do great things in our lives. A young girl said that her dad is currently living in New York but she has been communicating with him more frequently lately since AMO has parent prayer and blessings cards that are distributed every two weeks. Since she can’t give the cards to her dad she has been emailing them to him so that he can still be involved in her life and Christian education. At multiple schools teachers are telling us that the students are behaving better than had in the past, not only in AMO classes but in their other classes as well. These are the little things that demonstrate the impact, that hearts are being touched. We are grateful for the dedicated school directors and teachers who are walking alongside these students daily, encouraging them in their academic and spiritual journeys.
We can visualize the foundation being laid in the hearts of these children; the construction of their principles, morals, values and the growth of their love for God. We can build classrooms but to build character inside of those classrooms is the greatest impact we can make.
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20