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Teachers for a Better Belize (TFABB)--an eleven-year-old, U.S.-based nonprofit organization--is a partnership of professional educators from North America and Belize. We work together as volunteers to improve preschool and primary education in Belize's Toledo district. Toledo--home to the majority of the country's Mayan population--is Belize's poorest and most remote region. TFABB helps equip Toledo's preschool and primary school teachers and principals with the training, supplies, and facilities they need to help their students achieve educational success and broaden their later opportunities. (Primary or elementary school in Belize comprises the first eight grades or levels, roughly the equivalent of kindergarten through eighth grade in the United States. Secondary school or high school is equivalent to grades 9-12 in the United States.) By empowering Toledo's educators to increase the number of children who finish primary school and attend high school, TFABB hopes to help break the cycle of poverty and dependency that plagues the region's villages.
TFABB is embarking upon the final year of a three-year program (July 2006-June 2009). During 2008, TFABB will work with teachers, principals, and education managers to strengthen literacy and educational leadership in Toledo. We will: 1) Use teams of North American and Belizean trainers to provide a five-day teacher-training workshop in August 2008 improving skills in using the balanced literacy approach to teaching reading and writing for at least 270 of the 296 teachers and teacher-principals from Toledo's 49 primary schools; 2) Team up a North American and a Belizean trainer to provide a five-day teacher-training workshop in August 2008 focusing on the basic tenets of early childhood education and the new Belizean preschool curriculum for at least 15 of Toledo's 20 preschool teachers; 3) Provide language arts resource books, storybooks, and related visual aids to all preschool and primary-school teachers who participate in TFABB workshops, and distribute donated storybooks and other items to several of Toledo's rural schools; and 4) Train 20 seasoned Toledo primary-school teachers to serve as peer literacy coaches, who volunteer as mentors and resources for fellow educators, and who will lead three language arts training sessions for their 276 colleagues during the school year (in February, May, and October). TFABB's 2008 efforts will involve all of Toledo's primary-school teachers who in turn will reach all of Toledo's 6,327 primary students in the coming year with their new ideas and strategies. Our efforts will reach the majority of the preschool teachers, most of whom are serving in the burgeoning collection of newly built preschools in the rural areas of Toledo. Because TFABB is an all-volunteer organization and receives many donated school supplies and shipping services, we are able to keep organizational costs to a bare minimum. We do not have an office and the Board donates funds to cover our minimal overhead expenses (e.g., copying and postage for fundraising), so all money raised goes directly to the projects in Belize.
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