Dominican principal Steve Hypolite explores technology with students during a recent visit to an Alberta school.
Teachers lead hurricane relief for Caribbean island
It’s been a little more than a year since Hurricane Maria ravaged the Caribbean island of Dominica, destroying or damaging 90 per cent of all of its school infrastructure. Now, after being out of school for more than six months, many children are back in the classroom.
“The challenge now is that they don’t have the technology resources they need,” says Maurice Hollingsworth, a retired teacher who is president of IT for Dominica, an Alberta-based organization that has been equipping Dominican schools with technology for the last 20 years.
“We’re talking huge dollars, well beyond our means to support,” he said.
Which is why the organization is soliciting donations by working with industry contacts, school districts and ATA locals (Palliser Local No. 19, which is Hollingsworth’s local, has been a long-time supporter of the organization).
The team is seeking tablets, computers and other front-end equipment that is in new to “good-used” condition, as well as items like tables and switches
that allow the computer equipment to be used.
Steve Hypolite, a principal of a secondary school in Dominica, is in Alberta this month touring schools to see how digital technology can be implemented and, just a few days into his trip, he says it’s been “enlightening.” As Hypolite points out, the hurricane’s damage was severe, but if there is a silver lining, it’s that the country gets to start from scratch with its technology program.
“We’ve been making progress in moving away from traditional teaching methods and the hurricane put us back,” he said. “I’m getting an idea now of what might be the best equipment we can acquire.”
IT for Dominica normally recruits ATA members to travel to Dominica each summer to deliver professional development seminars to train Dominican teachers on how to integrate technology into the curriculum, but because of the extensive hurricane damage, this past summer was the first one in the organization’s 20 years of operation that it didn’t send teachers to the island.
“It would be meaningless to arrive to teach about technology when we’re still gathering it,” Hollingsworth said. ❚