Newsletter for January, 2020
Monelle's story

by Tylisha Miller and Elizabeth Zook

Four years ago, a dishevelled five-year-old girl came to The Learning Center by herself and said “Please Uncle Ray, Can I come to the Learning Center?” Her sly smile won his heart and his welcoming presence won hers.

Monelle was half way through kindergarten but she did not know her colours or her alphabet and could not count correctly to 20. But she wanted to learn and learn she did. She thrived on the individual attention she received at the Center. Usually first to arrive and last to leave, she loved the crayons and colouring books she did not have in her home. She laughed at the puppets and cuddled the stuffed animals. Her teachers used coloured sticks and bottle tops to teach her to count and eventually to add and subtract numbers.

Today, Monelle is at home in the Learning Center. While still behind her age level in reading skills, she loves the reading games and flash cards used in her class. Last year she learned to identify the nouns, verbs, and adjectives in sentences that she can read. This year looks very promising for her. She often wanders into the Learning Center library, chooses a book and attempts to read it.
She's also been working with the Chromebooks, entering the digital age while she improves her reading and math skills (seen in red at right). On her off days she comes in to do reading exercises on the Khan Academy Kids app one of the academic programs that teachers have been piloting with their students. Monelle rewards her teachers with smiles, hugs and flowers she picks on her way to the Learning Center after her school day. She has a family at the Center, one that will support her, love her, and cheer on her every move.

Monelle's next big challenge will be the multiplication tables but she is still eager to learn and, inch by inch, she is growing confidence and academic ability. The Learning Center and its volunteers will be there to support her and applaud her progress along the way. Go Monelle!
Reading is just the
The Learning Center teaches literacy and numeracy, though that's not its reason for being —that' s not why Ray and Dawn began it, and it's not why the teachers and volunteers continue their work today. Their purpose is to give kids a place to interact with others, and to provide them with an opportunity to build a sense of belonging; a place where they'll be welcomed when they arrive, and where they'll be missed when they don't; to provide an opportunity for them to grow into a sense of who they are and the gifts they have to give. The teachers don't just teach reading. For each child, they quite literally change the world.

The Learning Center exists because of the people who have believed in the model enough to support it with their time and their money, and it continues for the same reason. We think we can do more, for more kids, but that doesn't just happen. Every donation is a ballot that says, "I believe that this is important." $20, $50, $100, $1000 every gift helps ensure that the programs can continue and can grow, reaching out to more students, teachers, and more communities on island. To offer your support, click here , or simply reply to this email. You'll be very happy you did, and we will be, too.

Gardening at the Sunshine School

by Suzanne Gabriel
The garden is coming along nicely and the students have been enjoying it, both working outside planting and taking care of the product and of course eating the variety of fruits and vegetables.  So far they have had watermelons, bananas, butternut squash, eggplant and peppers. The carpentry workshop has also been very productive as the children have been making some whale trays, signs, and chip dishes for one of the local restaurants (shown below at right).
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