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Principal and 1st Grade Teacher Visit Costa Rica

Tammy Parker, New Salem Elementary 1st Grade Teacher, teaches a group of students at the Escuela San Jose Sur in Costa Rica.

Imagine boarding an airplane bound for San Jose, Costa Rica in order to spend eight days teaching in an elementary school, a college/technical school and a day care center where the primary spoken language is Spanish. During this time, you stay in a home with a host family, eating meals, doing activities and taking short adventures with these new friends. Some of the members of the family are unable to understand or speak your native language which is English.
New Salem Elementary Principal, Neil Hawkins. and First Grade Teacher, Tammy Parker, were privileged to travel to Costa Rica in August to participate in such an adventure. While there, they assisted in community service projects such as cleaning up a river and decorating a day care center. They also attended language school through the Spanish Immersion Center in Atenas, Costa Rica. To further learn about the culture of Costa Rica, Mr. Hawkins and Mrs. Parker took Latin Dance Classes, Spanish Cooking Classes and visited numerous sights of interest including an active volcano and a coffee farm.
Mrs. Parker states that, “this was a life-changing experience for me”, in that she better appreciates the privileges and resources that are available in the educational setting in America. She goes on to say, “these teachers are educating their students with practically nothing, yet Costa Rica boasts one of the highest graduation rates in the world.” Costa Rica abolished their military and devoted many those resources towards educating their young people. She states that “the smiles on the faces of the children will remain in my mind for years to come”. 

Mr. Hawkins also enjoyed his travels to this beautiful country. “I felt very safe and welcome in this part of the world. This experience has changed my life forever”, stated Hawkins. He shared how very blessed we are in the United States to have the technology and resources that are available in our public schools today. In the rural elementary school where the team visited, there were less than ten computers in the entire school. Hawkins also stated, “I greatly appreciate the support of the local business sponsors who made our trip possible. While we went there to teach others, they taught us as much, if not more, through their hospitality and the splendor of the culture of Costa Rica”. Hawkins hopes to be able to provide more opportunities like this for the staff of New Salem in the future so as to continue to grow professionally as educators.

Written by: Gina James
Posted: Sep 21, 2011 by Gina James

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