RESTORE Belize congratulates the 36 I AM Belize scholarship students honored at last week's 2017 scholarship award ceremony. Donor partners, parents, and staff filled up the Coastal Zone Training Room to recognize the 15 new students and 21 returning students who are fully funded under this programme.


Thanks to funding from our donor partners Belize Natural Energy Charitable Trust (BNECT), BEL, BWSL, Atlantic Bank, Atlantic Insurance, and the Development Finance Cooperation, RESTORE Belize’s I AM Belize Scholarship Programme is able to cover the costs of tuition, uniforms, and books up to 4th Form.

What makes this programme unique is its holistic approach in providing additional wrap-around services which include mentorship, need-based tutoring and counseling, internships, and the I AM BELIZE Scholarship Club. The scholarship program was established in October of 2010 as a way to empower people and communities to enable them to become the “conscious architects of their own future,” and as of 2017, 50 students have graduated under the program to become just that.

RESTORE Belize is very proud of our students and would like to once again extend our warmest congratulations.

For more information on how you can contribute to the I AM BELIZE Scholarship Programme, contact us or click here to find out how purchasing one of Dr. Corinth-Morter Lewis’ works can help fund a child’s education.

Spectators came out in droves on September 16th to experience Belize’s steel bands beat out lively renditions of the hits- both old and new. The concert played on well into the night peaking past midnight with Pandemonium. The Pandemonium Steel Band is coordinated and managed through a partnership between RESTORE Belize and NICH with funding from UNICEF as a tool for social outreach to socially vulnerable populations.

These skillful students are taught for free by a masterful musician whose enthusiasm, patience and dedication are evident when he leads. Alex Evans has been their primary instructor since the beginning of the programme and can be seen at the front of the stage directing and performing with his students. Members of the Pandemonium senior band Josh Herrera and Kandice Escalera also teach and help manage the band, and together, these dedicated instructors have helped students hone their abilities and fall in love with the pan.

 

Pan Yaad 2017 truly was an event to remember for musicians and audience members alike. Members of Pandemonium, in particular, will take a break after the past few weeks of intense practice before taking up their sticks again - this time to prepare for a UNICEF event. After that, they have one last concert scheduled for the year; that is their annual Christmas Concert.  

Videos and pictures from Pan Yaad can be accessed on our FaceBook page. To find out more about the steel pan programme, click here.

RESTORE Belize expresses its sincerest gratitude to Dr. Corinth Morter-Lewis for donating 400 copies of her books, Moments in Time Volumes 1 and 2, to the I AM BELIZE Scholarship programme. All sales from these books will be contributed directly to the Adopt a Student Fund, to which Dr. Morter-Lewis has donated in the past.

In Belize, the name Corinth Morter-Lewis is well-known and highly regarded since the poet and educator is considered by many as the epitome of patriotism in Belize. Dr. Morter-Lewis has had a long, impressive career in Education, and she has also greatly contributed to Belize’s literary landscape. Indeed, every morning Belizean children stand proudly, hands over hearts swelling with pride as they pledge their allegiance to the country by reciting Dr. Morter-Lewis’ poem “Tribute to the Belizean Flag”.

In 2013, Dr. Morter-Lewis published Moments in Time, a collection of poems, short stories and plays split into two volumes. The launch was not only a highlight of her literary career, but it also provided insight into Belize’s history, culture, and people. Before the launch, she contacted RESTORE Belize, offering to use proceeds from the book sales to “Adopt-A-Student” through our I AM BELIZE Scholarship Programme.

At the launch, Dr. Morter-Lewis was hailed by His Excellency the Governor General of Belize as “a true Renaissance woman.” He praised her ability to cover “a broad range of knowledge” in her works and recognized her as a true patriot.

Her late husband, Charles Victor Lewis, also carried and spread that patriotic spirit. He was an engineer who served as a teacher and mentor for many young men in Belize City.

In August of 2017, Dr. Corinth Morter-Lewis reached out to RESTORE Belize, once again offering to donate the proceeds of her book sales to our organization’s efforts in memory of her late husband and as a tribute to his active involvement in his community, particularly in assisting with at-risk youth.

If you would like to make a contribution in exchange for a copy of Dr. Morter-Lewis’ poetry collections Moments in Time Vol.1 and 2, contact us for more information or drop-in to RESTORE Belize’s office at the Coastal Zone Complex.

September 8th is International Literacy Day, and the theme for 2017 is “Literacy in a Digital World.” Digital technologies can be empowering for those who have access to them and marginalizing for those who do not. To address this gap and help both children and adults access educational technologies to build basic literacy skills, RESTORE Belize facilitates the Computer Assisted Learning Programme in 20 sites. One beneficiary population that is of particular interest is housed in the Belize Central Prison where inmates have access to the Cindy Greg site and the site in Wagner’s Youth Facility.

Wagner’s is a correctional center for children in conflict with the law. Located at Belize Central Prison, young men are sectioned off from adults and spend their days and weekends engaging in life skills training and positive youth development activities.  

 According to literacy coaches at the facility, many inmates begin the programme with the fundamentals, using flashcards and hesitant recitations of ABC’s. Some enter the computer room angry and frustrated at the words they do not understand in a place they do not want to be. Overtime, however, facilitators report that most inmates feel empowered and start asking to come in. Their behaviour improves and they are eager to show off their newly acquired literacy skills. The Computer Assisted Learning Software (CALS) programme is complemented by traditional literacy classes, which increase engagement and reinforce CALS lessons.

The walls are decorated with educational graphics and motivational sayings - most of which were made collaboratively with students and coaches. Questions like “What is your Motto?” and examples of a “Growth Mindset” peek out at the students from posters in their periphery as they manipulate machines, taking another step up the ladder of literacy. Participants are shown how to track their achievements which further motivates them.

RESTORE Belize would especially like to highlight the two inmates at the Cindy Greg site in the adult prison who completed the CALS programme and became facilitators, and the three inmates who received scholarships to complete high school online.

Programme organizers at the Belize Central Prison and Wagner’s Youth Facility are always finding creative ways to improve their programmes. By using computer assisted learning technologies, they ensure that their inmates benefit from advances in the digital world to attain essential literacy skills.  To find out more about the CALS Programme and its sites, click here. Other updates from RESTORE Belize can be accessed here.

September is recognized as Literacy Month, and in the spirit of literacy, RESTORE Belize would like to congratulate the 55+ primary school teachers who tested and sharpened their skills in August through the 5 day Balanced Literacy workshop. The teachers hail from 5 Belize City primary schools currently testing the RESTORE Belize Early Warning System for At-risk Primary School Children project. This project focuses on early identification of students at-risk of dropping out at the elementary school level.

The 5-day workshop challenged teachers to recognize learners’ uniqueness, and strengths and weaknesses using the Multiple Intelligence Grid while modeling cooperative approaches to learning. Attendees were taught basic concepts about how the brain works, as well as provided with an overview of key concepts in language acquisition such as reading readiness, language immersion, code switching and “social” language.

 

After listening to trainers, those in attendance grouped up to discuss and create based on what they had just learned. Finally, the groups presented their insights, effectively learning about and practicing the Balanced Literacy Framework and Kagan Structures.

 

Put simply, the Balanced Literacy Framework combines teacher models, teacher support, and learners’ autonomy in learning - basically an “I do” “We do” “You do” approach. Kagan structures, which were also utilized in the workshop, are techniques to increase cooperation and engagement so that students spend more time “on task”.

Lessons from the 5 day workshop are intended to be practical as teachers are encouraged to use their school curriculum and texts as the backdrop for developing engaging, effective lessons that are adaptable to any classroom setting and to any range of students. Additionally, with many different learning styles and multiple intelligences, utilizing only one method in the classroom prevents students from reaching their full potential.

The variety of strategies and activities catered to learners’ needs and strengths that comes with cooperative learning engage all students, improving the effectiveness of lessons to all. Despite the myriad benefits in cooperative learning approaches, the shift from traditional learning to cooperative learning has been challenging as activities require more preparation, patience, and creativity than simple chalk-board instruction.

The hope is that through workshops like these, teachers can learn to implement the varying strategies in their classrooms to improve the quality of education for all students.