Not only do the sponsored students get field trips with ACE each year, but we take the entire grade with us — and this season was no different. Students in primary schools study local community and government just like in the states. Remember when you were young and went on a field trip to the capitol or maybe the police station? Our little ones get the same experience. With ACE providing the means and schedule, our students enjoyed the day in Port Maria, learning all about their local community.
We visited the police station where students received a talk from the sergeant about safety and laws, then the mayor gave the students his undivided attention to answer questions. Another group was addressing letters to themselves and mailing them from the post office. The funny part about this field trip is that our own ACE staff seemed to enjoy it as much or more than the students. We even learned that our grown adults had never addressed and stamped and mailed a letter at their own post office. A real change in times, right? What a great experience for everyone!
After lunch with patties, the students received the finale at the fire station, where they got to climb into the firetruck and hold a hose spraying water. Is it any wonder all our third graders decided they wanted to be part of local government? Jobs like fireman, policeman, and postal attendant were all at the top of their lists, but no one wanted to be mayor! Perhaps it was the big desk he sat behind that looked very large or scary. Either way, we are grateful for our local servants in Port Maria for making the two days of field trips very educational and fun.
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For many years now, ACE has focused on helping our students and their families push through the barrier and challenges of living in poverty to achieve a higher level of education through the child sponsorship program. ACE is now on its 10th year of sponsoring St. Mary children. We thought we would give you some factual information on how education can impact a student and their families if we make a commitment to stick with sponsorship.
Tahjebe Suer is making the Super Student Status with ACE.
It’s not every day that a student like Tahj comes along, but when he does we have to highlight his hard work and desire to move forward in his studies. We told you about him back in July’s newsletter. Several years ago, when little Tahj was just in Primary school, ACE began sponsoring him at Water Valley Primary School and then on to high school at St. Mary where he graduated top of his class. Tahj has a vision to become a Ship Captain, and last year in faith he applied to the Caribbean Maritime University located in Kingston. This is a prestigious school with 100% job placement that costs an average of $12K US per year to attend.
Tahj was accepted and worked with ACE all summer to earn money for his books and food. While he was busy helping ACE, we were praying about where the money was going to come from. By now, we should all know God comes through every time when He is brought into it – and, as usual, several men and women who have followed Tahj and his family heard God’s call, stepped up and committed the funds needed to get him through this first year.
Last week, Tahj was given the prestigious award of being the number one student in his class for excellence and grades!! We are so proud!! That’s why ACE has a created a new level of child sponsorship called Super Student Status – Tahj, this is for you and your family! Look for Tahj this summer as he intends to be working full time with ACE again. Let him know how proud you are. We certainly smile every time we hear that name.
Now, comes year two. We are praying again for the funds to come in for his second out of four years at school. Want to help? Let us know!
For years, we’ve been talking about building our own school. Then our plans changed, as God withheld the property we had hoped would open up for a school, at least for now. Believing God’s timing is far better than ours, we pulled back. ACE wanted to build a special needs school at one time but found that putting both schools together would not attract the local families, as there seems to be a stigma with joining a special needs school with a regular school.
Every day for the past five years, as we drive to the ACE Campus, we pass a school called Edge Hill . You might have seen it – the name is on a big Digicel sign. In checking online, we realized that the Digicel Foundation had in fact built this school for the 30+ students who were assessed as special needs. Remember when your parents and teachers would say to you, “Never assume, always ask?” Well, I must have forgotten that because I assumed Digicel was actively involved in the day-to-day needs of running the school. I was wrong.
After meeting the vice principal, Mrs. Lee when ACE donated the stove a few months ago, we learned that Digicel only built the building but doesn’t support the actual operation and costs involved to run the school. And that’s when ACE enthusiastically said, “We will!!!” We became partners this year with Edge Hill Special Needs School and feel honored to have access to the students and wonderful teachers.
Our first interaction with the students was last week, when our friends and partners at Castine Church conducted our first home economics and shop classes for the students. Eyes got wide and smiles began when we opened the chocolate chip cookie mix and the peanut butter cookies. Who doesn’t love cookies?!
While the cookies were being made, another class on table-setting was being conducted across the hall. Setting a table with forks and knives might come in handy if the Mayor were to stop by. The best part of was cutting the peanut butter sandwiches before eating them.
In another class room, the shop students all built sailboats. Using drills and an electric saw, our expert volunteers allowed the students to actually cut and drill into their wood for their boats. I’m not sure which had a greater impact, using the equipment or finishing their boats! It was a wonderful time. The school asked if we would be willing to sponsor some of their students as the need is great. Of course! We are honored to have so many volunteers on a waiting list to adopt/sponsor students so that should be an easy ask.
Next time you visit us in Jamaica, bring us some home economics stories and cooking items. Cookie sheets, pots, pans,, bowls, spoons – you name it, they need it. And if you are the shop kind of person, bring your old tools, new tools, levels, safety goggles, measuring tapes, and anything to build. They love it and, frankly, so do we!!
When Amanda, one of our newest board members, rolled on the ACE board this year to serve, the first thing she and her husband, Digger, requested to do was to provide Summer School for our Second Story students in the Child Sponsorship Program.
I have never seen our students so excited as I did this summer, as I watched our eager teenagers coming early each day to attend class. You see, Amanda, Digger and their team of teachers have a unique way of teaching topics that make anyone want to learn. And learning is exactly what these students did. Amanda put an entire mystery together for the students to figure out how to find the thief who stole Ms. Shirley’s cookbook.
Even Mr. Moncrieffe had fun! Every day as I passed him leaving in the parking lot, he just shook his head with a big smile and said, “Wow! What a great day. I’m learning so much about making subjects fun for students. We hope this is just the beginning.”
Thank you to Amanda and her team and to all for investing in this wonderful 30-year-old ministry called ACE — where the learning never stops and we always find the fun!
Always grateful for you,
Marla and Allen
We all know what this time of year looks like for most of the U.S., but in Jamaica, it’s pretty much the same day in and out. Until the Child Sponsorship parents started thinking about the day in December. A few years ago, ACE began asking the sponsors of our 200+ students to consider sending ACE a monetary gift for their child so we could purchase something small in remembrance of the holiday and throw a festive Christmas party for the sponsored children. We are so happy to continue that tradition.
Yesterday, Amber went shopping and came back with what looked like a sleigh full of goodies. It’s amazing how far your donations go to provide wonderful gifts for the children. Some of you may be saying, “Well, I could have bought my child a gift and sent it versus sending in funds.” That is correct, but our past seems to define our present decisions in this area. Let’s face it – Americans think bigger is better rather than simple is sensational. We were receiving cameras, bikes, full clothing outfits, and stuffed animals the size of a car (not really, but close), but this way provides each child with a simple expression of kindness and a moment to know that they are all loved and cared for by you, their sponsors.
As we prepare for that big holiday, we certainly don’t want to forget to be thankful for all of you. Thanksgiving is such a great time for reflection. We attached a card we sent out to a few of you. You may wonder what that yellow stuff is on the front of the card – it’s not popcorn! Those are Scotch Bonnet peppers from our farm with boots of our farm employees, boots that a great family donated to our staff earlier this year. With that, we say Happy Thanksgiving! We are all so grateful for each of you and what you continually do for all of us Stateside and on the ground in Jamaica.
Blessings from all of us!
This week, Dr. Marie, a Board Member for ACE, gave her time and talent to begin the basic teaching structure for our new school. Everything starts with a vision of what can happen when great minds come together. These stickies are a picture of what the beginning of needs look like for our new school. Don’t strain your eyes, as we will be publishing a list of those needs for the school so it will be more readable. Pray that we get the land we have our eye on adjacent to the Campus that ACE desperately needs.
This year, ACE’s PE program is off to a very active start! Some of you may remember helping Coach at Water Valley as he conducted all six grades of PE twice a week.
This year, Coach is leading the PE for Water Valley – and our new school, Mason Hall Primary – with help from Ms. Kesha Russell, our Educational Administrator, and Digger, our stateside expert on PE development and trainer for our ground staff. We have coordinated the entire required curriculum from the Ministry of Education for each grade to coincide with the practical, and we are happy to report that the students love it!
Coach recorded his first week of activities for you to see how the movement is working. Remember the electric slide? Well, this is the Jamaican version.
Good job, Coach and Kesha, and thank you, Digger! Keep on moving!
Many times I come across skeptics when they are visiting ACE in Jamaica who share with me the reason they “don’t” sponsor children “anywhere” in the world.
Where does “my” money go?
Is the child getting my letters?
If I come “there”, can I see them?
All I can say is yes, yes and all of the money goes towards the child!
That sounds incredible doesn’t it? It’s true, just ask any of our 200 sponsors who regularly write letters, send monthly support and visit their wonderful child in their homes.
Now, there are some risks involved in sponsoring an ACE child.
Risk #1 – You might fall in love with him or her.
Risk #2 – You might spend more money than you anticipated as the child grows into a better place of literacy, and living
Risk #3 – You might get a phone call after some time that your child’s parent is not fulfilling their commitment to keep your child eligible for sponsorship and is being dropped from the program or for some other reason that just doesn’t make sense to us in middle class America.
Risk number three is a hard one. We feel that our children are as special as the many friends and families that support them. We also have a commitment that our sponsors are as valued as our children. We have to be honest even when the story stinks. If you are some of the sponsors that have been through this, we understand and appreciate what you are doing to make a difference in Jamaica and for sticking with us even through the bumps in the road.
Some of you have been blessed to sponsor the same child for years and can see the changes and the smiles and the growth. We would love to share your stories and pictures on Facebook with the others that are still thinking about the risks.
Living on the edge is a good thing, and more often than not, the results are life-changing.
The students march in a straight line from their classroom down to the paved court. As they get closer, they strain to see what activities they will be participating in today. When they see the ropes and bucket and mats, they can hardly contain their excitement– Some even have to be reined in by their teacher! Eagerly, they walk over and chorus in the way only Jamaican children can: “Good morning Sir!” This is the opening scene for PE at Water Valley every Tuesday and Thursday morning.
The faculty and teachers are excited to be partnered with ACE again to provide PE for the students. In an effort to encourage the parents to purchase the PE gear, ACE offered to match half the cost of the uniforms. To say that has been a success is an understatement! Each morning, it is a sight to behold all the students decked out in their blue gear.
After warming up by doing laps around the court, the students are eager to participate in the activities for the day. But, before they begin, they have to tell Coach what the objective is. From grade 1 to 6, they are all able to answer: “Team work!” In the game “Diminishing Squares”, the students huddled together while trying not to topple over with laughter as Coach removed square after square! It is no question that the students at Water Valley are not only enjoying PE but are also learning to work together as a team. The students respectfully follow the instructions of Coach, who ensures that they have fun while learning. Truly, when the team works, the dream works.