As I walked up to David S. school in the chilly morning hours, I met Nelia, a somewhat quiet but passionate grade one teacher. “How’s it going?” I asked. She shrugged her shoulders and looked at the sky. It was a cold and blustery day. The wind whipped across the open field connecting the school to the rest of the village, and even the grazing cattle huddled together for protection. “Only two parents so far, maybe the weather will keep everyone away.” She looked disheartened as she said the words. I looked around at the empty school yard feeling her anxiousness for the day to begin.
It was my first Literacy Day and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Literacy Day is a day for the parents of grade one students to come to school with their children, meet the teachers, engage in lessons, and see their students participate in educational activities. It is an annual event at our schools and a chance for parents to learn about the Impact Network model, how the tablets are utilized, and what lessons such as math and reading their children are involved in when they leave to go to school each morning.
Getting parents out at 8am on a Saturday morning seemed liked quite the challenge even in the best of weather. “Well, give it a little more time,” I replied, “It is early yet.” I made my way to one of the larger classrooms and entered to find teachers busying themselves with preparations. While one teacher set up a tablet and a projector, another drew pictures on the board. Other teachers brought in extra desks and benches. They worked quietly to gather pencils, marks books, and posters covered in math problems and words searches for the coming activities. Each teacher stopped and politely greeted me.
Slowly at first the parents began to arrive until they were coming in waves. They walked up through the blowing dust in colorful winter coats and hats. The children led the way, meeting up with friends to laugh and wrestle in the school yard. Most parents came with younger siblings in tow and many of the women had sleeping babies strapped to their backs with colorful fabrics and warm blankets. They arrived with uncertain faces and filed into the room to be seated in front of the projector.
After a tablet lesson and a question and answer session, the expressions of uncertainty had changed to ones of chuckles and excitement. Particularly outspoken individuals stood up as they asked questions and made comments to the teachers. Soon parents were cheering on their children as the students raced to find words in a word search or answer simple math questions. As the teachers assigned individual work, parents sat with their child and helped them answer the questions.
As the midday meal approached, the sun had peaked out from behind the clouds and the air was beginning to warm. The parents and students came streaming from the classrooms, chatting with one another and holding exercise books with drawings, equations, and corrected spelling words. The teachers said their final words to the large group in the school yard. I looked around and noticed how full it had become. I peaked over at Nelia. She had a shining smile on her face as she chatted with one of the parents. The day was well spent in the company of the students, teachers, and the proud parents.