English Literacy Educator

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Project Description

The government of Samoa is eager to boost English literacy teaching and learning capacity in Samoan Primary Schools. The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) has requested the assistance of Peace Corps to help reach this goal. While results of the 2018 national assessments for English show a steady decrease in the number of students who are identified as “at risk” of not achieving learning outcomes in Years 4 and 6, there still remains a high number of “at-risk” students who continue to need special attention. Peace Corps Volunteers therefore work in Samoan primary schools to promote the capacity of students and teachers to become proficient English literacy learners and educators.

Samoan students transition to an English curriculum beginning in Year 4. This can be a challenging transition. Volunteers boost students English literacy skills through teaching Years 4, 5 and 6 students in small pull-out groups. They use student-centered methods and priority is given to at-risk students. During their second year of service, Volunteers continue teaching their small pull-out groups but also co-teach with a Samoan teacher counterpart. Through co-teaching, Volunteers and their counterparts engage in the ongoing exchange of methods, techniques and ideas that build English Literacy teaching capacity.

In addition to teaching, Volunteers assist schools in developing their libraries and library lending programs, create before and after school reading programs and in some cases may also teach computer skills. Finally, Volunteers engage parents and other community members in English literacy through initiating family literacy activities and inviting parents to school-based events.

Peace Corps Samoa is focused on the long term sustainability and impact of Volunteer projects and assignments. In an effort to ensure sustainability and measure Volunteer impact, Samoa follows a 6 year project cycle in each school and community, starting with a 1st Generation Volunteer and ending with a 3rd Generation Volunteer. After the 3rd Volunteer closes their service, the school and community will have had a Volunteer for an entire six year project cycle. This will be a long enough span of time for Peace Corps to see impacts of the project. Most Volunteers will be replacing previous Volunteer in the same community as a 2nd Generation or a 3rd Generation Volunteer. Therefore the individual tasks and assignments of each Volunteer will depend both on the community and the generation of the Volunteer.

Generation 1 Volunteers will set the initial ground work of the project for schools and communities. They will be working with small pull-out groups in Years 4, 5 & 6, introduce Peace Corps mission and goals to schools and communities, establish and organize libraries and set up a lending program for both students and teachers that are user-friendly. In addition, while the bulk of the 1st Generation Volunteer’s work is with the students, they are expected to meet project requirements in terms of co-teaching with local teachers in their 2nd year of service. The 1st Generation Volunteer will recommend teachers that the 2nd Generation can work with as co-teachers and counterparts.
Generation 2 Volunteers will continue the project where the previous Volunteer left off. They will continue working with Years 4, 5 & 6, continue working on secondary projects that were previously set up and work closely with school teachers to build local teachers' capacities. The 2nd Generation Volunteer is not expected to start new library systems but to continue on with the same system established previously. This Volunteer will focus on improving teachers’ general teaching and English literacy teaching skills. They are expected to start co-teaching and conduct professional development trainings with teachers in Term 2 of their 1st year of service.
Generation 3 Volunteers will mainly be responsible for finishing up any work that the prior Volunteer was not able to complete – both primary and secondary projects. They are not expected to start any new secondary projects unless necessary and at the request of the communities. In addition to pull-out groups in Years 4, 5 & 6 and co-teaching, the 3rd Generation Volunteer will focus on increasing students’ and teachers’ access to teaching/learning materials and resources that support literacy acquisition; and increasing parents' and community members' support and participation in children’s literacy learning. After the 3rd Volunteer closes their service, the school will have had a Volunteer for six years. This will be a long enough span of time for Peace Corps to see impacts of the project in each school and community.

Volunteers will be serving at a Post that is participating in initiatives promoting gender awareness, girls’ and boys' education, and leadership empowerment. Peace Corps Samoa is the first Post to have GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Clubs in schools that are co-run by Volunteers and local Counterparts. To date, we have more than 15 Primary Schools with active GLOW Clubs that meet weekly. These clubs are now supported by the local communities and schools, as well as our main partner agency, MESC.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English Literacy at the Primary School Level, and a minimum of 3 months, 10 hours/month, or 30 hours of English or literacy tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelors of Science degree in Pre-school, Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary Education
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with Elementary Education state certification
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with 1 or more school year classroom teaching experience at the Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary level. Full time Montessori teaching experience is also acceptable
• A demonstrated desire to teach, particularly at the primary school level
• Experience teaching literacy, especially at the primary school level
• A desire to work with teachers and students and the ability to develop strong working relationships with teachers, students, parents and community members
• Experience and interest in developing extra-curricular activities to promote capacity and strengthen skill building for students and teachers
• Experience and interest in developing projects that promote gender equity
• The interest and ability to live and work with limited resources in a rural village on a small relatively isolated island
• Demonstrated flexibility, curiosity, resourcefulness, open-mindedness, professionalism and self-reliance with a strong motivation to serve

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

You will receive Samoan language training during your Pre-Service Training. While you will be teaching in English, speaking Samoan is an important means of integrating into your community. Most schools use Samoan in staff meetings and Volunteers will need an understanding of Samoan to follow staff meetings and discussions. Even if principals and teachers speak English, most of them prefer to use Samoan in meetings. Many villagers do not speak English fluently. In addition to that, language is a key to culture. Learning to speak Samoan is essential in order to integrate successfully. Showing that you are making an effort to learn the language both shows respect and goes a long way towards earning respect in your community.

Living Conditions

Samoa is a small island nation of about 200,000 people. Reefs fringe the shores and there are mountains in the center of each of the two main islands. Most Volunteers do not live on the ocean although it is never far away. Peace Corps enjoys a long and productive relationship with Samoa and has a positive reputation. Committed Volunteers can build meaningful relationships within their Samoan communities and have a successful service.

Culture and Religion
Samoa is culturally Polynesian and the vast majority of Samoans are Christian. Religion plays a strong role in village and community life. Most Volunteers attend church at least once a week, regardless of their own beliefs, as this is a key means of integrating into the community and participating in village life.

Climate and Clothing
Personal appearance is important to people in Samoa. During pre-service training, the dress code is business casual. Following pre-service training, you will need to dress appropriately for work situations in your community.

Samoa is hot and humid with two main seasons – a rainy season and a dry season. Although it is hot, in the village women are usually expected to wear below the knee skirts or wraps and shirts that cover the shoulders. Men may also be expected to wear wraps and short sleeved shirts.

Dressing appropriately will help you gain respect in your host community, facilitate integration, and increase your credibility and effectiveness. It is advised to take cues from your Samoan colleagues, and dress to their standards of professionalism.

Housing and Transportation
Volunteers live with host families during the 10 weeks of pre-service training and throughout the two years of service. Volunteers live in a room in a family’s house. Transportation to and from the villages is usually by bus and within the village Volunteers will walk.

As a small Polynesian nation, Samoa is fairly homogeneous. As a foreigner, you will stand out in the village and may receive a lot of attention both positive and unwanted. Ethnically diverse Volunteers may receive additional attention, both positive and unwanted.

While there are women in positions of power in Samoa, gender roles are more traditional. Women, especially young women, may find the behavioral norms and expectations much stricter than they are used to in the States.

Samoa has some restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts and, in some cases, the LGBTQ community has been stigmatized. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws, and use caution and discretion when approaching topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity. This discretion may necessitate non-disclosure of sexual orientation and/or gender identity in host communities, as disclosure could lead to significant safety risks. Peace Corps staff in-country will provide Volunteers with training and guidance in this area in order to maintain volunteer safety and identify support mechanisms.

While Internet is becoming more widely available throughout the country, Internet access is very expensive in Samoa. Access may be limited both by your location and by cost.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Samoa: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations in Samoa

  • Samoa may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: dermatology; gastroenterology; insulin-dependent diabetes; some types of gynecologic support; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; urology; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: peanuts and shellfish.
  • After arrival in Samoa, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot and mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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