By Isabel Arline Duque, Saturday Enrichment Academy for English-Coordinator.
The Saturday Enrichment Academies were born in the year 2007, when both The American School Foundation and the Secretary of Public Education (SEP) decided to join their efforts to support Lower and Middle School teachers in the areas of Technology, Sustainability, Media and English.
In order to start such a project, financial and economic support was needed from a third participant who philanthropically supported the nascent project. Renowned companies including AT&T, Coca-Cola Femsa, The Bank of America and Fomento Educacional A.C joined in as well. The original idea was to provide the necessary tools to enable all interested teachers to continue with their professional development, therefore all courses were free of cost and were offered during six continuous Saturdays twice a year, giving teachers from underprivileged areas of Mexico City the opportunity to participate extensively since we all knew they lack from teaching resources and Professional Development.
In the beginning, ASF Junior and Senior students participated actively along with the teachers leading the courses.
Twelve years have passed to this day, and more than 10,000 students have been benefited from the courses offered in the Academies. Teachers coming from surrounding areas such as Tláhuac, Xochimilco, Cuautepec Barrio Bajo, Iztapalapa, etc. receive proper training, and some have even taken school books donated by ASF back to their own schools, giving them a chance to enrich their libraries and providing new feedback to more teachers interested in the topic. Participation of committed teachers has been intense and their responses to be enrolled is evident as every semester the enrollment list closes within hours due to their personal interest.
In the Academy for English (ESL), Middle School teachers learn about English Teaching Techniques, Culture and Class management. During the 2019 Spring Academy, ASF received 40 teachers that were even trained in Mindfulness techniques to cope with social problems evident in the classrooms: anxiety, depression and even delinquency. Dr. Amira Valle, from Elephant Wise, contributed enormously with her vast knowledge on Neurosciences.
Renown ASF teachers like Ms. Debbie Ramón (English) and Jason Schell (fomer Art teacher) had participated actively in the sessions sharing their experiences, their resources and techniques.
Here teachers are encouraged to participate by asking frequent questions that are common among the SEP teachers: How to deal with a specific Unit from the SEP planners? How to teach Shakespeare? How to teach poetry to secondary students?
All teachers are invited to visit the ASF campus and the Institutional Advancement Office, and the Parent Association participates with the Academy by inviting SEP teachers to community activities like the Art Fair (November) or the presentation of the different US Drama Plays ( April-May).
At the end of the 6th session, SEP teachers receive a diploma that celebrates their interest and committed participation. This year, SEP representatives, Ing. Jesús Elías Amaya and Lic. Elsa Imelda López Padilla decided to join efforts and provide all participants with recognition from the SEP.
The American School Foundation A.C. along with SEP authorities and Fomento Educacional A.C. have facilitated continuous training to all SEP teachers that
has enriched the lives of many students in different areas of Mexico City with the hope this rich opportunity continues as a part of our constant dialogue with our SEP representatives.