Christophe Harbour Blog

Christophe Harbour Foundation Furthers Literacy in St. Kitts and Nevis

By Katherine in Christophe Harbour Foundation, Community, St. Kitts

The Christophe Harbour Foundation sponsored Creating an Interactive Learning Environment that will Improve Literacy, a professional development workshop for teachers, on May 29 at Sandy Point Primary School. 

Since its launch, the Christophe Harbour Foundation has dedicated its efforts and its dollars - more than $2 million ECD - to a variety of causes throughout the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis, most notably in the areas of health and wellness, environmental and cultural preservation, and social and youth development.  

As youth development, in general, and literacy, in particular, continue to be important areas of focus, the Foundation has worked closely with government ministries to identify initiatives that further the government's efforts in developing the country's youth.

One such initiative came about during a school visit with the Foundation's literacy partner, Hands Across the Sea. "We had an exceptional day touring the Federation's schools, meeting the wonderful teachers and getting to see first-hand how our efforts with Hands were making a difference," said Katherine Verano, Director of Marketing for Christophe Harbour and Christophe Harbour Foundation board member.

The partnership between Hands Across the Sea and Christophe Harbour Foundation has assisted nine schools with nearly 4,000 books serving 2,700 children across the Federation. "It was heartening to see children so excited about reading and visiting the libraries, but one thing that kept popping up in our conversations was the use of technology to inspire learning." 

Fast forward a few months where Verano, Jennifer Thrift, a technology-focused educator and library media specialist from the US; Dion Browne, the St. Kitts Hands Across the Sea "Literacy Link"; and Tammy Darby, Christophe Harbour Foundation board member, visited schools to better understand the state of technology in the classroom as well as the teachers' desire to get the most out of the tools at their disposal. 

Representatives from the Christophe Harbour Foundation, Hands Across the Sea, and Sandy Point Primary meet to discuss the pilot professional development program.

"Our visit was productive," said Thrift. "We saw libraries in action and many creative teachers deploying technology tools to make learning fun, but we also saw instances where resources weren't used to their full potential or technology had failed. The end result is frustrating for both teachers and students." Thrift manages the library, information resources, and technology at her elementary school in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. She also trains teachers how to best utilize the library and technology tools at their disposal. 

The team visited several schools and designated Sandy Point Primary to host a pilot professional development workshop focused on creating an interactive learning environment to improve literacy. The primary school had an excellent library, and a librarian who was keen to do more for her students. That pilot program, which was a collaboration between Sandy Point Primary, the Ministry of Education, Hands Across the Sea, and Christophe Harbour Foundation, was delivered on May 29th to 24 eager teachers. 

Sandy Point Primary teachers break out into groups to create lessons they can share with their students to encourage reading.

Speaking early in the session, Thrift said, “This workshop will provide different interactive environments to improve literacy in the classroom, and also, to integrate technology that was provided by the Ministry of Education.”  

Topics included reading strategies, paired text, and integrating library resources into the classroom. During the day’s sessions, teachers broke out into groups to create lessons they could share with the children when they return to school.

Speaking on achieving success in the workshop, Thrift stated, “The big thing I want teachers to take away from this workshop is to be a role model for the children, to love literacy and to create life-long readers,” Thrift said.

Surveys will be done following the workshop to determine what was learned from the workshop and how well the techniques and tools provided contribute to a greater learning environment. If successful, the Christophe Harbour Foundation hopes to work with the Ministry of Education to take this program to other schools in the Federation.