(On the Caribbean island of Dominica)
The management, the teachers, and the parents of the Achievement Learning Centre (ALC) have developed a new appreciation for their slogan: “Turning Potential into Possibilities”. Like many organizations across the globe, Achievement Learning Centre has been negatively affected by the onslaught of COVID-19. In addition to the issues caused by this, they were evicted from their school building in May 2020. Although the centre had to close their doors physically, they fought to remain in operation. How did ALC stay functional in the face of multiple contrary Circumstances? They reached out to the parents of their students. Through parent collaboration, ALC has developed individualized education plans (IEPs) for each of their students, used distance learning to overcome the difficulties caused by the loss of their school building, and deployed teachers to different areas to accommodate their students’ learning with one-on-one lessons.
Along with other schools in Dominica, ALC’s first response to the dilemma caused by COVID-19 was to turn to online platforms to continue teaching their students. It was a new and challenging experience for all those involved. The children had to become oriented to an entirely new routine based in an unfamiliar system. On top of that, they missed their friends and teachers, which deeply affected their motivation to learn, a situation each parent now had to face along with the centre’s staff. Still, the parents of ALC’s students, determined to help the centre to ensure the continuity of the students’ learning, pushed through the discomfort of being forcefully thrown into a new experience.
Not only did these parents work with ALC in becoming familiar with a new mode of learning, but they also provided their ideas, opinions, and even expertise for the development of IEPs for each child attending the centre. During a time of ongoing fear and lack of security, each of these parents took time from their personal schedules to meet with ALC’s management to create individualized learning plans for their respective children, going so far as to set aside time each day specifically for the sake of their children’s learning.
Because of this close collaboration, the centre was able to develop a deployment schedule for their teachers. For students who had to have face-to-face learning, were unable to access the internet, or did not own a device, teachers were sent to their homes to work with them one-on-one. Again, this was only possible because of the willingness of the parents to open up their homes for the sake of their children’s learning.
The involvement of parents in the operations of the Achievement Learning Centre has been an essential part of the centre’s ability to stay afloat in the midst of sea-like doubt founded in antithetical circumstances. Even at present, they are showing their support by participating in a parent workshop ALC is hosting in collaboration with the Nathan Ebanks Foundation as part of a project the centre and Dominica’s Ministry of Education are implementing with sponsorship from UNICEF. In the words of Judith Billings: “Children are the priority. Change is the reality. Collaboration is the strategy.”
Achievement Learning Centre (ACL) is located in Roseau, Dominica.