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Bookmobiles & Stories-in-Bags 

               partnering with our communities to improve education in the Bay Islands

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MESSAGE FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Many of us have dreams – some simple and easily managed; others beyond our comprehension.  Many of us have someone who had a major positive impact on our lives.  I am one of the lucky ones, motivated by teachers who gave me the self-confidence to have dreams and offered education as a doorway to achieving these dreams.  I am grateful to my third grade teacher who introduced me to creative writing; my 7th grade teacher who read Johnny Tremane to us every Friday bringing history alive; my ninth grade teacher who honed our writing skills with his weekly “Write Something from the Topic Box”; my twelfth grade teacher who brought literature and drama alive and led me through my first painful research thesis.

Equally as powerful was the message they delivered, that education was not just about grades, but really about developing skills to communicate and make a difference in the world.  Partners in Education Roatan is their heritage and at the core of my desire to pass on their message that education can bring dreams alive.

WHY PIER?    Roatan is a municipality within  the Bay Islands, one of Honduras' 18 departments (states).  Its 33 public primary schools have student populations varying from 30 to over 2,500.   Most schools do not have libraries, copy machines, or basic instructional materials.  All schools follows Honduras' national curriculum for reading, math, and science, and are part of the annual national assessments for both students and teachers.  The Bay Islands assessment scores have climbed over the past three years, but are still very low.  

Culturally, islanders are not readers.  Until last year most schools did not have libraries, and those that did, rarely used them.  The number of books was limited and there was no time in the school day for children to use the libraries.  Many of the libraries are also classrooms.  PIER’s mission is to foster quality education and literacy on the island.  Since 2006 we have offered classes and tutoring to students through our e-learning center, Sand Castle Library & Education Center, and our English teacher training.  With the encouragement of our donors PIER made a philosophical shift from direct services to a limited number of children, to taking books directly to teachers and students in the schools.  Today we are visiting 31 schools every three weeks during the school year, loaning 18,257 books and hosting 13,249 student visits.   One teacher said it best:  “The Bookmobile is the single best thing that has happened to education in Roatan – because it gets books into the hands of teachers and students.

To motivate children to enjoy reading and to develop reading skills, we provide 1,440 classroom interactive presentations to 2,255 children every three weeks for an annual total of 20,297 student participants.  In addition, we operate a library that attracts over 300 children from a 4-mile radius, many of these children walking 45-minutes each way to use the library.   Our SCIENCE FRIDAY! programs attract students to experiment with science theories.  Since students test so poorly on the national assessments, the library now offers daily math tutoring.   

NEW DIRECTION!   PIER's Board of Directors believes that  Roatan must develop an economy that is not solely tourism-based.  While it is a blessing to the island's economy, it also limits opportunities for our citizens, because tourism is seasonal service-based industry that for most workers provides lower salaries that must be supplemented by tips.  The Board believes our children must have the option to work and develop businesses in the new world of technology and sciences.  Therefore, our long term goal is to create a STEAM (aka STEM) school on the island.  This school will serve a core student body, but also be a training center for every teacher on the island.  Thereby, taking the curriculum and teaching methodologies to every school in the Bay Islands.  Every lesson plan we now develop follows the STEAM model and will be used in this school.  

We are grateful to all of you who are helping us to bring dreams to children and teachers of Roatan.

Cam O’Brien,   Exective Director, Partners In Education - Roatan

Support the Sandcastle Library

Support PIER & the Sandcastle Library with a  directed donation to PIER projects through Brain Spaces, a US 501c3 nonprofit.  Brain Spaces partners with PIER to bring community learning opportunities to the Bay Islands.