Teachers wanted! - Jamaican educators needed to tutor US students online
Community Scholar Inc, a United States (US)-based non-profit organisation, is seeking to recruit Jamaican teachers to tutor US students online. Although the main aim of the initiative is to increase the test scores of these US-based students, Executive Director Robert St Cyr says the project is poised to benefit both groups.
“Recruiting teachers from Jamaica is a strategy designed to help communities both in Jamaica and the United States,” St Cyr said.
It is against this background that the Washington-based organisation sought the assistance of Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks, in securing suitable Jamaican teachers for the programme.
“This cultural exchange will pay dividends in many ways for students and the Jamaica-based teachers alike, including increased focus on individual academics and a boost to students’ confidence levels.
“Students will get the individualised attention needed for their learning style. Students are not placed into grades. Rather, students are met where they are academically. And increased self-confidence – students don’t have to compete for attention or be too embarrassed to ask questions,” he said.
“In addition, parents will receive frequent updates on student progress, unlike at most schools, where there are only two teacher conferences per year.”
St Cyr says there are also long-term benefits for the wider communities.
“Because teachers will be interacting with students from different backgrounds, they will be able to take those experiences back to their classrooms in Jamaica to add to their academic experience. The ability to work remotely presents an economic opportunity for teachers in Jamaica, especially with the limitations the pandemic places on in-person interactions,” he said.
“This is a unique opportunity for students and teachers alike. It resolves key issues in modern education that tend to leave some students behind. Importantly, parents who decide not to send their kids to school in the 2020-21 school year can be assured of a solid education during the pandemic. Their children will get the individualised attention that traditional public and private schools simply cannot provide,” St Cyr said.
Ambassador Marks shared that “we support this initiative as a model of collaboration that is very fitting for the current virtual lifestyle environment while creating a socio-economic opportunity in our education industry, utilising technology and the well-known expertise of Jamaican educators”.
St Cyr said, “The effort was created to address the achievement gap between black and white students that persists within the USA.”
He continued: “We believe that building a community around each student will promote a culture of learning, which, in turn, creates a sustainable environment where students can grow academically. Our target groups are second through eighth grade, with math and English being our primary topics.”
“We will add additional subjects, including geography, science, history, [and] music, in the new school year to provide a more rounded experience for students,” he said.
“We chose these grade levels because divergence of academic proficiency begins primarily in elementary schools and widens in subsequent grades. In addition, a mix of volunteers and paid staff is used to tutor individual students and small groups,” he pointed out.
He said that students are grouped with others with similar levels of proficiency, as determined by teachers in their respective schools. “We also provide a separate assessment, especially as we group students who attend different schools,” he noted.