September Newsletter

Derr Foundation

September 2016

Dear Supporter:

Vicki and I returned in mid-August from several days in San Andres.

Classroom instruction has gotten much more animated and interactive. Steve Barrett’s workshops seem to be making a big difference. It’s fun to watch.

Our five new high school sophomores are especially energized and engaged. You’ll recall that we are experimenting with high school level instruction this year, a big step that parents of the graduating ninth graders requested.  We heard lots of student discussion on issues like violence in the home and the degradation of the environment. It is encouraging to witness their critical thinking on these issues.

We now have Wi-Fi, which costs about $40 per month. We are asking those students who can to contribute $.75 per month to cover that cost.

The teachers are meeting semi-monthly with parents, and Vicki and I were able to attend one of those meetings. Some had walked a couple hours to be there. Our rural indigenous parents are often slow to speak up, especially with North Americans present, but the meeting was lively. The biggest question discussed was an expanded classroom schedule next year- the teachers think more classroom instruction is needed but feared parents would want their children in the fields or the home instead. After an hour of animated discussion, including many compliments for the teachers, the idea was unanimously endorsed.

We now have a student council and more extra-curricular activities. Our boys’ soccer team has an away game during September and the parents decided they wanted to prepare a nutritious meal for all the participants and their supporters. One of our ninth grade students (about 50 years old) volunteered to provide the ingredients and eight mothers offered to do the cooking and bagging.

Vicki and I learned during our visit that Caritas, a local catholic services organization, has been forced to suspend scholarship support for scores of students, so our foundation board has decided to add five high school scholarships next year for some of these students, at a cost of about $2600.00. We hope to be able to add more in the future.

It’s been 10 years now since Sr. Celeste asked us to take over the school/scholarship program in San Andres so she could move on to Tanzania. We’ve helped between 150 and 300 students (and 6 or 7 destitute widows) every year since thanks to all of you. We are extremely grateful for your faithful, decade-long support.

Sincere best wishes,
Bruce Martin  

Margaret Dixon