Encouraging a Lifetime of Learning
Er International's Work at Samuel Raymond Christian School
“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.”
School doesn’t start for another hour, but at Samuel Raymond Christian School (SRCS) students are already showing up, excited for their day and eager to learn.
SRCS serves 52 students in grades K-7th on the island of Roatán, Honduras. Since opening its doors just six years ago, the school has continued to grow. Every year they add an additional grade level, and also accept a handful of new students who are entering Kindergarten.
SRCS is a bilingual school. Students study math, English, science, spelling, and creative writing in English, as well as Spanish and social studies in Spanish. The school uses a curriculum called Accelerated Christian Education (ACE). While in a traditional classroom setting all students in the same grade move through each subject at the same time, with ACE students work through each subject individually and at their own pace. This method allows those who are struggling in some areas to take their time, have their questions answered before they move on, and to have academic success. It also allows those who excel to move ahead in subjects as it is comfortable to them.
Typical days at SRCS begin with all the children participating in singing songs, reciting pledges, learning a scripture reading, and celebrating accomplishments from the previous day. After this gathering time, each student dives into his or her own individual coursework and begins working independently on the goals they have set for that day. Teachers and volunteers answer questions and work with each child individually.
The lead teacher at SRCS is lifelong educator Deborah Hunnicutt. Before moving to Roatán, Deborah was an instructor and department head at a junior college, administrator at an ACE high school, and co-founder, lead teacher, and administrator of a Christian school in Oklahoma. Her former students nominated her for six years in a row to be a part of the Who’s Who Among American Teachers list, an honor that allows university students to recognize teachers that have influenced their lives.
Deborah moved to Roatán to help some of her friends with their mission work and teaching on the island. She had no plans whatsoever of running a school, but one Sunday she noticed that the kids in church couldn’t read in English. She approached some of the moms and asked them if they would like her to teach their kids to read during winter break from school, and they accepted her offer. “So there I was with a wide range of ages, sitting on a rusted fridge under a tree teaching these neighborhood kids how to read,” she remembers.
One day during one of these lessons, a mother walked by and said, “Ms. Deborah, we really need a community school. We spend a lot of money sending our kids to town. And look, we have a teacher right here.” Deborah, who was already working 12-hour days elsewhere, didn’t think she could start a school, but agreed to be a consultant on the project.
Two days later, another mom approached her and said that her uncle had agreed to give some of his land to build a school.
Now she had both a location and students, but since this wasn’t her original plan, she still had some thinking to do before taking on such a challenge. In her own words, “After weeks of wrestling with God, who by the way always wins, SRCS was born.”
Deborah says that SRCS has the most amazing students. “They are excited about school. They are respectful and loving.” One of the biggest difficulties the children face is that during the low season for tourism on the island when jobs and money are scarce, most of them do not get three meals a day, making it difficult to concentrate on schoolwork. Deborah explains, “Our parents are incredible. For the most part, these are hard-working families. However, due to the seasonal nature of tourism, in low season many children only get one meal a day.”
This is where the ER International Backpack Program has stepped in to help. They give each child at SRCS a personalized backpack filled with food to help feed their family for the week. The only thing students have to do to get a weekly backpack is stay in school. Children in the program have sponsors who generously give $22/month, all of which goes directly towards filling tummies. ER International’s mission is to not only help parents feed their families, but also to help students keep learning so they can have a brighter future.
Deborah says that the backpack program has been instrumental in both alleviating hunger and helping her students stay focused. She talks about how receiving an education can make all the difference in a child’s life in Roatán. “I firmly believe that the education these children are receiving is going to impact them, and their own kids, too. They are not only learning the 3Rs (reading, writing, arithmetic), but also invaluable life skills like goal-setting, time management, and delayed gratification.”
Sponsor Today ~
Currently, there are 13 students at SRCS waiting for sponsorship into the backpack program. If you would like to donate just $22/month towards keeping a child in school and helping to feed them and their family, please click the ‘SPONSOR TODAY’ button below. The backpack program wouldn’t be possible without our wonderful sponsors. We thank you for your continued support!