“A student who reads, thinks. A student who thinks, learns. A student who learns can make change.”

Ubelia, a student in 6th grade strolls through the doorways of Safe Passage, walks down the stairs, slowing down as she passes the library exclaiming, “Que facil!” or “too easy!” in regards to the problem of the day posted by the Tutoring Department. Four out of five days she finishes the problem with little help, never forgetting a note for the tutors to accompany her answer.

While she is trying to figure out the answer, brothers Jenser and Oliver are trying to solve the problem as well as signing up for Biblioclub, a weekend library club focused on reading, reasoning skills, and strategy games.  They come to library club every Saturday to practice their chess skills and solve tough logic problems.

Next to Jenser and Oliver are groups of students roaming the library, trying to figure out what book they want to borrow.  They grab a book to borrow for the weekend, or they sign up for one of many library activities such as book club and traveling backpack.

While many Guatemalan Public Schools focus solely on having the right answer, copying and rote memorization, The Tutoring Program and Library work together to create a new type of learner.

We work on many new programs and daily activities to help promote critical thinkers who can analyze and solve problems.   The first step is animating students to enjoy learning.  When a student reaches this point, they start learning in all of their daily activities.  We cannot teach students all of the information that they will need to know in life, but we can teach them strategies on how to learn and encourage them to love learning.

Not only is the library available to  students to visit throughout the week during free time,  but it also promotes and animates reading and writing through classes held once a week for each grade.

The library offers Book club, traveling backpack, independent readings, and a menu of over 20 activities for students to do while in or outside the library. Geremias our librarian helped Safe Passage celebrate international book day to change the culture of reading from something that we have to do, to something that we choose to do.

Geremias has helped teachers create personal libraries in the classrooms and has led trainings in learning strategies. Not only is the Library focusing on reading inside of Safe Passage, with The Traveling Backpack, students can bring books, reading strategies and games home for their entire family.  The Traveling Backpack allows students to bring a backpack home with books of all reading levels to read and share with their family. This activity has impacted the family dynamic of many of our students, Sisters Judith and Esther bring books home every week to read them to their little sisters. This is not only beneficial in the improvement of their own reading skills, but puts them in a leadership role in the household, as well as benifiting the other members of them household.

Along with offering 1 on 1 tutoring sessions where students are pushed to think critically in a fun environment, the Tutoring Department runs Library club and the problem of the day. Library club is an optional weekend club where between 10-40 students come every week to be apart of the fun environment where they are pushed to think outside of the box. Students Oliver and Jenser, library club regulars, rotate 20 minutes in every station starting off trying to solve logic problems, rotating to tutoring, spending some time playing chess, and finish off the day reading in the library tree house.

Another one of our star students, Alexis Rodas comes to Library club every other Saturday to try to solve his difficult Sudoku problems left personally for him. He was helping us promote Library Club one day, telling his classmates a bit about what we do on Saturdays.  With a smile on his face he confidently told his class, “Library Club is a place where we get to go to on the weekends to learn more!” 

Right there, Alexis has turned a corner.  We GET to go are the words he used around learning.  For Alexis, Ubelia, Oliver, Jenser and many more students roaming the hallways of Safe Passage, learning is changing from a have to, to a want to.  Once that corner is turned, the learning process is endless!

-Mac Phillips  Tutoring Coordinator