The St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) teacher believes that primary school teachers are eager to learn at their age.
“If their interest can be captured from early, this can help to reduce apathy at the secondary level as solid roots would have already been formed,” she said, adding that high interest in Spanish can have far reaching benefits to the economy.
Recognizing of the constraints facing the country’s education system to put such a plan in place, Nelson has launched a project to train teachers in Spanish education at the Schoolfield Primary and Infant in Malvern, St Elizabeth.
“I immediately decided that this is where I should be planted to help the growth process in Spanish, said Nelson.
Nelson has been training 11 teachers, including the school principal at Schoolfield since March, utilizing power point presentations and online activities the group is instructed in how to present lessons in Spanish.
She has also has used Spanish songs, slates for group work, work sheets, dialogues in Spanish.
To judge the teachers’ improvements, they are individually assessed to determine their understanding of the course material.
What is more, teachers are randomly questioned in Spanish in the WhatsApp group and have been quizzed by Nelson in supermarkets.
|LASCO/MoEYI Teacher of the Year 2016/17, Kerene Nelson (right) instructs teachers of Schoolfield Primary in Spanish.|
“A student was seen in the supermarket and I asked her the time in Spanish. The time was 7:04 and she was able to correctly say, ‘Son las siete y cuatro’ (though slowly as she was still learning the numbers),” she said.
Nelson has also tapped into the resources she’s received for the copping the teacher of the year award.
Major sponsor of the award, LASCO Manufacturing purchased two desktop computers for the computer laboratory at Schoolfield costing $126,000.
“For the success of the program, technology integration will be necessary, Nelson said. “Teachers will be better equipped to integrate technology during instruction to make the teaching/learning process more engaging and meaningful.”
Grade 2 Students of Schoolfield Primary, Altoria Russell (left) and Deandrea Rowe (right), practice conversational Spanish under the guidance of LASCO/MoEYI Teacher of the Year 2016/17, Kerene Nelson
The donation will also benefit students, who can use the computers to do research online, as well as to be creative, while showing mastery of content, she added.
Nelson also presented the teachers, who she’s been teaching Spanish with gift baskets from LASCO on Teacher’s Day.
“The teachers have been so supportive, co-operative and adorable; thus, it was necessary to encourage them by showing my gratitude and appreciation,” she said.
Nelson is delighted to contribute to the development of Schoolfield, which has seen significant improvements in student performance over the past four years.
Literacy among students moved from an average of 31 per cent literacy to 78 per cent between 2013 and 2015.
What makes the Schoolfield more special to Nelson is that it’s the alma mater of her foster son.
“It is undying passion to serve that motivated me to be a foster mom to a student at STETHS who had grave financial challenges and I thought it best to extend my time and service to his alma mater,” Nelson explained.
Despite not teaching the students at Schoolfield Primary Spanish, Nelson is doing what she can to expose them to the second most spoken language in the world.
Nelson plans to place a piñata at the school for Career Day on May 26.
A piñata is a container often made of papier-mache or cloth; it is decorated and filled with toys or candies. Students will simulate the experience by being blind folded while hitting the piñata with a stick in order to get the candies.
Also, in this month or in June, students from the Spanish club at SETHS will visit the school to conduct devotion in Spanish. This is aimed at building students’ interest in the language.
Because of her strong love for Spanish, Nelson believes she’s able to come up with innovative ways to teach Spanish.
“I have developed a strong penchant for the subject and coupled with my personality, I believe I am able to impart it effectively to my students,” she said.
She added: “It also gives me the opportunity to participate in nation building, the mere fact I am preparing students to be bilingual in a global society.”
Nelson has spent almost 20 years in the teaching profession.
She has a Master’s in Education Administration, Certificate in Technology Integration in Secondary Schools and Bachelor’s of Education Degree in Spanish. She has also been awarded Most Tech Savvy and Teacher of the Year from St. Elizabeth Technical High School.