Recursos: Delivered.

In December of 2016, a team of teachers from G.O.D. Int’l traveled to rural El Salvador to offer the 3rd educator seminar within a year to local teachers and administrators.  Seminar recipients traveled from across the area to attend, receiving relevant professional development, donated classroom supplies, and enjoying shared fellowship with other educators.

As the seminar ended, and the Salvadoran teachers asked questions and gave context for their personal circumstances in the classroom, it became clear to the team that the need among their seminar participants was far greater than what a couple seminars could offer. These teachers needed ongoing, faithful, quality development and resources. Over half of them lacked reliable access to the internet, which limited the avenues for distributing information between on-site seminars. In response, Gregg Garner, President of G.O.D. Int’l, asked the group if a printed publication was something that they felt would be useful to them, and the entire group responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!”

Top: Betsy Johnson, Principal of Academy for G.O.D., managed this effort. Below: Our wonderful translators! From left: Rafael Reyes, Marco Arroyo, Ninfa Magana Parker, Anna Reyes, Lavinia Fernandez  

Top: Betsy Johnson, Principal of Academy for G.O.D., managed this effort. Below: Our wonderful translators! From left: Rafael Reyes, Marco Arroyo, Ninfa Magana Parker, Anna Reyes, Lavinia Fernandez  

In response to this evident need, the team pledged to start an educational periodical for these teachers- a magazine full of useful articles, teaching tips, and lesson plan ideas. They knew it was a massive project to undertake, but were compelled to make the effort and sacrifice required.

As the team returned to the States, they immediately began work on the first edition of this important project.  It was no small task! Articles needed written and translated, photos needed edited, and the layout needed to be designed. In total, 14 writers, 3 editors, 2 designers, 5 translators, 1 manager, and several other volunteers, joined together to complete the first edition of “Recursos.”  Since January, they worked faithfully to produce a resource to meet the needs before the Salvador teachers.

Betsy Johnson, principal of the Academy for G.O.D., who helped facilitate the seminars in December, was the manager for the publication.  When she finally held one of the magazines in her hand, she reflected,

“At our last conference in December, we asked teachers if they would find a printed publication like this helpful, and they said they would.  We proceeded by telling them that we would do that for them, happily.  I hope that more than anything, these teachers are affirmed in their souls for the work they’re doing, as we see them as more than worthy of doing this type of project.  I hope that they feel remembered, cared for, and inspired to keep working hard in a nearly impossible system.  On a practical level, I hope they are given some ideas to implement/tools to add, to their skill sets that will assist them in the classroom.“

Now that the first edition is published, the scope of the commitment required to produce this resource for teachers is clear. Some aspects of the magazine could be foreseen, like article writing and design. One major unknown variable, in terms of time, when the efforts began, was translation to Spanish. How long would it take? In the end, over 8000 words were translated by 5 translators, giving over 125 man hours, most often late into the night. It was truly a labor of sacrificial love.

Matthew Parker, Lavinia Fernandez and Marco Arroyo (3 middle) amidst a team of grateful teachers, showing off their gifts of gratitude--tokens the whole team treasures on the other side of their hard work. 

Matthew Parker, Lavinia Fernandez and Marco Arroyo (3 middle) amidst a team of grateful teachers, showing off their gifts of gratitude--tokens the whole team treasures on the other side of their hard work. 

The magazine is called “Recursos,” meaning, “Resources, or means.” Johnson explains that it is,“a play off of the idea that the teachers themselves are the greatest resource, THEY are the resource their students need.” If teachers see themselves as THE most important part of the equation, their classrooms will come to life with possibilities. While the magazine will help them with certain techniques, classroom tips, or awareness of how students learn, their commitment and presence is what makes the qualitative difference.

Today, Recursos was distributed to the teachers!  Nearly all the teachers from the December conference, plus a few new faces, convened this morning to receive the promised publication. They loved it! As the teachers looked through the magazine, they smiled and commented about which articles appealed most to each of them.

This teacher is very special to us! She worked with us to produce our play, "El Bus" in El Salvador and now found herself pictured in the magazine! 

This teacher is very special to us! She worked with us to produce our play, "El Bus" in El Salvador and now found herself pictured in the magazine! 

One teacher said she was so surprised, and happy, that the magazine was in Spanish!  She said they have received handouts before, but in English, a language few of them speak.  Another teacher noted that he could tell this magazine was relevant and contextualized to his reality, and he was very appreciative and eager to read it.  

Marina, a drama teacher who worked on a youth drama offered by G.O.D. Int’l in December, was grateful that there was an article on the arts in the first edition,  and she looked forward to learning more in coming editions about making teaching more dynamic.

The room was buzzing with excitement as the teachers discussed the content of Recursos. As the meeting drew to a close, the teachers collected money among themselves and presented the G.O.D. Int’l team with a beautiful painting as a token of thanks.

Also today, back in Tennessee, after the countless volunteer hours, the team only spoke about the opportunity with gratitude for the opportunity to contribute towards getting “Recursos” to these teachers. Anna Reyes, a translator and volunteer, expressed the sentiment in the hearts of the team here perfectly when she said, “I can’t wait to do it again!”  

Written by C.F. Edwards