DDG Companion News | March 28, 2018

Miguelina Corporan wraps up the day at an educational workshop for teachers with an outline of coming changes in the curriculum and instruction due to government guidelines. Photographs in this article are by Dr. Thomas McGowan as originally published in his blog.  

An Update from the 
Consultant to the Board of Episcopal Education

Dr. Thomas McGowan, a Professor of Education Emeritus from the University of Nebraska, is also an Appointed Missionary of The Episcopal Church who volunteers as an educational consultant in the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic. To follow his activites there, check out his blog: <https://mcgowandr.wordpress.com>. Dr. McGowan is also an at-large member of the DDG's Board of Directors. His article below is adapted from his report to the DDG Board at its latest meeting on February 12, 2018. To see all of the reports and other documents from that meeting, click here

As I begin my third year as Asesor de La Junta de Educación Episcopal (Consultant to the Board of Episcopal Education), I am encouraged by what we have accomplished and by the increasing emphasis placed on education by Bishop Moisés Quezada Mota. Here are some of the highlights of where we've been and where we are headed in the coming year. 

Our Episcopal schools face a challenge (NOT a threat) from the Dominican government's increased spending for education. In response, we must offer a high quality education to enable our schools to grow enrollments and remain operational, but also to feature a distinctive educational alternative for children (e.g., bilingual programs, an emphasis on values/civic education, technology, specialty programs and "hands-on" teaching practices). Boosting available scholarships and revising how these moneys are distributed are also initiatives worth pursuing. 

Currently, an executive committee composed of Melvina Dinsen (President) and Miguelina Corporan (Principal, Colegio Episcopal San Andrés) from the Junta de Educación is visiting schools to assess their effectiveness and gather information about their needs. The committee uses an instrument based on requirements set by the Dominican Ministry of Education, also known as MINERD; these data will guide the preparation of a 5-year strategic plan for presentation to the Bishop. From our work thus far, a sense of school improvement priorities are emerging, including: Enhanced teacher salaries, a public relations effort in the DR to raise the visibility of Diocesan education, teaching laboratories (e.g., technology, science), bilingual education, vocational education, teacher professional development and the centralization of school leadership in a Diocesan office of education. The possibility of establishing a Dominican Episcopal university has been raised and is in very early stages of conversation.

Melvina Dinsen quizzes the principal of Colegio Episcopal San Marcos in Haina; pen in hand, she records each answer to a scripted set of interview questions. 

The most recent visit was to the Episcopal school in the town of Jimaní, Colegio Episcopal Profesora Laura Morrow. This school is located about 1 mile from the Haitian border, and enrolls many students with Haitian heritage. The Diocese of the Dominican Republic has an extensive presence there, including a church, parish hall, dormitory with dining facilities for mission teams and other visitors, and a medical clinic operated in cooperation with the Dominican government. The school's second story is currently under construction to be able to serve more students in the 2018-19 academic year.

The teachers enjoyed a lunch during the visit from the representatives of the Junta de Educación to the Episcopal school in Jimaní. Planning for meals is an important part of overall workshop planning (see note about food in the paragraph below).

As I've noted in past articles, teacher professional development remains a major priority. Toward that end, a team comprised of educational missioners and Dominican educational leaders offered a second, more extensive workshop series in December 2017 as a follow-up to our first worskshop series in May 2017. We presented interactive sessions to the Diocesan educational leadership, then to classroom educators and school administrators at 4 regional locations. We hosted over 240 educators who reported tremendous satisfaction on our post-workshop evaluations. As a workshop organizer, there is nothing more satisfying than having to scramble and find enough food for a much bigger audience than anyone had realistically expected!

Planning for our next workshop series in early May 2018 continues as I type. Our team will add 2 missioners and at least 3 Dominican educators. The missioners from the US are all experienced workshop presenters and leaders in their fields (e.g., mathematics, social studies, technology, language education, bilingual education, creating an atmosphere for learning) from the states of Alabama, California, Nebraska, and the country of Mexico. Our sessions will cover topics that teachers have identified as beneficial. We encourage your prayers and support for our professional development activities. 

In center: Dr. Thomas McGowan (blue shirt) with the Rt. Rev. Moisés Quezada Mota and the members of the educational workshop team in Santo Domingo in November, 2017.

Links to online copies of recent issues of the DDG Companion News:
For earlier issues on the Publications page of the DDG website, click here.

Contact the DDG:
Office: (813) 400-2722 | Fax: (813) 983-5082
Executive Director: Bill Kunkle | bkunkle@dominicandevelopmentgroup.org
PO Box 272261 | Tampa Florida 33688-2261

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