Our preschool students, enjoying the summer!

Similar to our upper grades, our preschool students had a blast this summer! They enjoyed  trips to the beach, reviewing what they learned in the school year,  recess and spending time with their peers! Scroll down to see a pictures of our preschool students enjoying summer school:

Spending Time in the Classroom

Playing in the village 

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Enjoying the beach

Learning to brush their teeth (this is what our newest Pre-K 3 class spent alot of their summer doing. They are teeth brushing pros now!)

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Playing during recess

Time for Fun in First Grade

Today marked the start of the last week of summer school for Makarios!  The first grade class has been hard at work in math learning how clocks work and mastering how to tell time.  This is a skill that the students start learning in kindergarten, and aim to perfect even more the following year.  To make the lesson more interactive, Profe Sarah used a practice clock, and called on students individually to move the hour and minute hands to the proper location.  The students all anxiously awaited their turns and love being called in front of the class to answer a question.

In particular, the lesson was focused on learning where the hour hand goes when it is half past the hour.  Sometimes students think the hour hand should be directly on the hour, but today they learned that when it is half past the hour, the hour hand falls between the current hour and the next.  It was exciting to see each student master the lesson, and help fellow classmates when someone was struggling!  Below are pictures of each student after they finished their problem.  It is safe to say everyone is working hard to make this last week the best one of the summer.  If they keep up the good work, they are likely to have even more fun during the last day of school party this Wednesday.

A Trip to Italy with Second Grade

To add an element of adventure to the summer curriculum, Profe Imani and Profe Bella designed lesson plans that revolve around a theme of different countries around the world.  Each week the students learn about a different country: China, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, etc.  This week, their country is Italy, and they have been learning things like how many people live there, the capital city, and different pieces of Italy’s culture.  The students love “traveling” around the world, and even have passports that they collect stamps in for each new country they study!

Today, the students learned about Michelangelo and his artwork.  They began the lesson with a brief biography of his life, learning things like when he was born and about his work on the Sistine Chapel.  They were all surprised that Michelangelo painted the ceiling while laying down on his back, and were very impressed with the pictures of the artwork.  Little did they know, their profesores had taped pieces of paper under their chairs for them to try and draw a picture the same way Michelangelo did the in the Sistine Chapel.  They have been learning about Daniel and the Lion’s Den in Bible, so each student was commissioned to draw a scene from the story.  As you can see below, they were very creative and really enjoyed drawing like Michelangelo!

Evelina and Ambiorix

Evelina is the single mother of four boys.  Of Haitian descent, she and her sons’ first language is Haitian Creole and they live in the village of Chichigua a few miles outside of Montellano.  Montellano is a small town on the outskirts of the larger, more well-known city of Puerto Plata.  Chichigua is almost exclusively Haitian, with only a few Dominican families residing there.  Living as Haitians in the Dominican Republic, Evelina and her friends and family have had to learn to adapt to foreign culture, customs, and social challenges of daily living.  Evelina has not only learned Spanish but can hold her own in English as well.  Makarios taught English classes in Chichigua and Evelina was an excellent student, taking her studies seriously and utilizing the opportunity to practice with visiting groups.

Her porch is a center of activity in Chichigua, from it you can see all the way to the highway and the beach.  Her dog, “Chiquita” has much space to run around in the front of her house and dig up things she’s not supposed to.  I’ve come upon nine people squeezed in the tiny space at once, and even with nine they made space for me.  Most of the passersby are family.  She lives next door to her godsons and their parents.  It’s just a place where I felt good.  I was so comfortable sitting on that porch and telling her about my week, listening to her talk about work struggles or her health, or a new beauty tip she’d learned.  Sometimes I went and she wasn’t there.  She stays very busy to support her family.  Aside from working at a store in the neighboring town of Sosúa she styles hair and maintains a salon in her home.  I got to meet and chat with many of her clients as she was tweezing their eyebrows or putting their hair extensions on.

I taught her youngest son, Ambiorix, for two years.  He is her treasure and her motivation for getting out of bed and earning a living every day, aside from her understanding that she’s also working for the Lord.  Ambiorix was tiny when his father passed away and, for a nine-year-old, has a strangely mature acceptance of that reality.  I remember students in the classroom chatting amongst themselves about their families while working on a project and someone saying, “Ambiorix doesn’t have a father.”  The protective teacher in me was ready to strike with time out or loss of recess for that student but Ambiorix’s peacefulness shamed me; he just lowered his head and said “It’s true.”

Ambiorix is wonderfully creative and I loved telling Evelina about how truly talented he is.  I’ve never seen work from a more artistically inclined student in my years of teaching.  His drawings were realistic and his brave use of color made me marvel at the way he sees the world.  He is 100% boy.  A printed-pajama-wearing, noise-making, run-instead-of-walk boy.  His cuteness is Evelina’s soft spot but she’s also raised him with a fear and respect for her authority, which is no easy feat as a single mother in her culture.  As his teacher I had to learn how to respect that dynamic and what my role would be in supporting that while teaching Ambiorix about Christ.  I learned, though, and we eventually became a great team, Evelina, Ambiorix, and I.

I miss my friend Evelina.  I miss her rice and beans and her finding and saving me things I’d simply told her I liked, like her woven hats.  I miss sharing struggles and I miss her porch.  I miss the explosion of life and personality that is Ambiorix and his fresh, creative energy in the classroom reminding me of the excitement with which we should approach life.  I miss his grumpy faces and his turning around of his chair when he got angry, followed by his raw repentance as he recognized his errors.  I miss getting to watch God shape him into a man that will one day provide for and protect his mother.  But I’m thankful that I can know and trust that all of that is still happening, whether I’m watching it in person or not.  I know that right now his little mind is bursting with ideas about what to create next.

Under the Sea in Kindergarten

This week, the kindergarten class is reviewing the letter “C” in phonics.  To help them review the letter, they have been doing art projects!  This week’s theme is “Under the Sea” and all of their art projects have involved a different sea animal.  On Monday, they made caballitos del mar (sea horses) from paper plates that were decorated with sequins.  For Tuesday and Wednesday, the students used their hands and feet, covered in paint, to make cangrejos (crabs) and camarones (shrimp).  They loved using the paint on their hands and feet to make pictures.  Below are pictures of the kindergarten class with their seahorses and from class this week!  They love this theme, especially after their trip to the beach two weeks ago.

In math, the students have played bingo and around the world to practice addition.  Yesterday, everyone won a new pencil during Bingo.  They love the friendly competition and are becoming math superstars.  Similarly, they did a color by number activity today and they had to do an addition problem to discover what color to use.  Lastly, during bible, the kindergarten is focusing on how to love their neighbors, so they made a card to give to a neighbor that they love.  We are looking forward to many more fun days under the sea in kindergarten this summer!!

Summer School in Third Grade

Summer school is in full swing at Makarios, which entails a schedule that is different from the regular school year.  Class is in session Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 10:00 am until 2:30 pm.  In the morning, grade levels PreK 3 through kindergarten have class from 10:00 until noon.  At noon, all of the students have lunch together before the 1st through 3rd graders have class.  Similar to the younger grade levels, the older students have class from 12:30 to 2:30.  Thursdays are a special treat for the students because we have a beach day calendar in place that sets aside a day for each class to go to the beach with their teachers.  We have already had two beach days and they have been incredibly successful, complete with burying each other and the sand and playing in the waves.  In addition to school programs, we have a soccer camp for non-Makarios students that live in Pancho Mateo and Tamarindo, which is run by two staff members, Cakito and Kelvin.  On Thursday afternoons they host games to try out the skills they have been learning Monday through Wednesday.

On Wednesday, we spent time in the third grade to see what a typical day in summer school looks like for them.  After lunch, the third graders had recess for 30 minutes followed by a phonics, math, and science lesson.  Recently, Belizeur and Genesis have been working with the third graders on spelling, so to review what they have learned, the students were given an assignment to properly spell three words for each letter of the alphabet.  Above you will find pictures of everyone working hard on their phonics assignment.  During math, the students have been using paper pesos to practice important math skills like subtraction.  Each student has a set number of pesos, and after a scenario was written on the board, the students had to figure out how much one of them needed to lend the other so that they would have enough money to buy the item.  In particular, their class has been focusing on subtraction problems that include borrowing or regrouping. The day ended with a science lesson reviewing electricity.  The class formed groups and worked together to answer two questions.  First, “What are some items that use electricity and why is it important?” and “What would you do without electricity?”  Their class has been hard at work during the first two weeks of summer school, and we are excited to see what they will be up to in the following weeks!

Top 10 Reasons to Join Mak Staff (Part 2)

6. You will consume the best coffee and fried chicken IN THE WORLD!

If you’re not already a coffee addict, it’s highly probable you’ll become one, and if you’re a coffee drinker but have yet to try DOMINICAN coffee, you’ll certainly become one after your first sip of coffee in the DR.  It’s richer, bolder, and livelier than your favorite American coffee.  For Sarah VanHoose, second grade teacher, it’s a representation of the country itself and all the life it overflows with in a cup.

“La bandera Dominicana” (the Dominican flag) is every Dominican’s favorite meal of fried chicken, rice, and beans and much like Dominican coffee, it’s just plain better.  It could be that after a long, hot morning of difficult but satisfying work, it tastily replenishes your energy, giving you what you need to keep serving.  It could be the community that’s enjoyed as you sit down with your new Dominican friends and trade legs for wings.  Be it coffee or chicken, meals are always enjoyed in good company, and they are wonderful opportunities for bonding experiences.


7. The Lord will strengthen you in your faith as He challenges and refines you

Working for Makarios will be one of the most challenging, and most beautiful adventures you’ll ever have.  We go with the purpose of teaching the students the knowledge and skills they need to succeed academically and about God’s great love for them, and WE end up learning through that experience the knowledge and skills we need to succeed professionally and about God’s great love for us!  He does this by presenting us with challenges that we must seek His help in overcoming, fine-tuning and pruning us.

Many different aspects of the job provide these opportunities.  Miranda Wauson, School Administrator, comments on living in community: “It’s hard, it’s beautiful, and it is the fire that the Lord uses to refine us.”  Raising support to go teaches us complete dependence on and appreciation of the Lord’s provision.  Watching our students and their families battle illnesses that are a result of living in poverty stretches our idea of God’s sovereignty and develops our trust in His plan.  But at the end of day we’re better people for it, able to serve the Lord and His kingdom more effectively, and we do it because our students are more than worth it.

Two Makarios students with their mother in the village

Two Makarios students with their mother in the village

8. The culture is very warm, welcoming, and relaxed 

Dominican culture is reflective of the island itself – colorful, beautiful, and inviting.  Dominicans don’t meet a stranger and fold outsiders into their families in a way that humbles the American attitude regarding community.  Relationships are vital, and locals are kindly willing to slow down their daily rush to stop and greet someone they know (or even don’t know), or accept an invitation to enjoy a quick cup of coffee.  People in the DR feel comfortable expressing themselves, and it’s not uncommon to enjoy lively discussion of many and varied themes on public transportation or at the super market.

The culture is relaxed.  The lack of foreboding intensity allows people to laugh at themselves, or one another, with fear of offending or hurting feelings, as the relational baseline is so well established.  You’ll feel secure in a group of people that easily and frequently communicate how special you are to them.


9. You will develop personal relationships with kids and their family’s outside of school


Sarah Vanhoose with student, Son.

As part of the local staff it’s required that we make weekly visits to the villages we serve.  We all go together in the Makarios guagua (van) on the same day every week after the have been dismissed and we rotate which village we visit so we make sure we see everyone as much as possible.  Let us clarify that this is the most enjoyable “requirement” to fulfill – built-in time for fostering relationships with our hilarious children and their incredible families!  These visits are filled with you spending time and ministering as you feel led, whether that’s visiting with parents about student progress, walking hand in hand with children down a dirt road, playing any number of fun games or sports, or helping someone’s “abuela” (grandmother) snap beans.

It’s also completely acceptable and encouraged for you to spend time with your students and their families outside of regularly scheduled work events, a privilege that’s rare and beauty in education these days.  Stop by a home on an afternoon walk and stay for two hours, sipping coffee and playing dominoes.  Spending time outside of school builds trust between you and your students and helps to create a better classroom atmosphere.  It also shows your appreciation of the value Dominicans place on spending time with one another.


10. You will be a part of something greater

Working for Makarios is working for a cause that doesn’t simply benefit people in the present.  It’s even more than working to benefit the future of people’s lives in the Dominican Republic.  It is the opportunity to be a part of God’s grand plan for His creation and His people.  The Lord doesn’t need us, but allows us to be a part of His mission: changing lives and drawing people back to Himself.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21a says “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

At Makarios, we experience true joy every day when we go to work and know that through God’s power and provision we get to make a difference in eternity.  Imani Folkes, Resource Teacher and Sponsorship Coordinator, shares “The Lord is doing amazing things through Makarios.  It’s going to be a beautiful thing when we reach Heaven and we see all the ways the Lord has used Makarios for His kingdom.”