Spanish Primary School Literacy Promoter

Project Description

Peace Corps Dominican Republic is currently the only Peace Corps program with a program focused on Spanish literacy. Spanish Primary School Literacy Promoter Volunteers provide critical support to enhance Spanish literacy rates within the Dominican education system. Volunteers work in Spanish to support childhood literacy in the native language of the Dominican Republic. By strengthening childhood literacy programs, Volunteers strive to decrease the number of children who are over-age for their grade, repeat grades, or who drop out of school. The work of Volunteers and their Dominican counterparts helps to lay a foundation for students' lifelong learning and supports communities’ development priorities through access to quality education, effective reading and writing skills.

Volunteers' primary assignment is to serve as a resource to school staff (including the principal, teachers, librarian, counselor, and/or academic coordinator), students, and families. Specifically, Volunteers work with teachers to integrate innovative teaching practices into the classroom. by using tailored teaching techniques and tools, counterpart teachers and Volunteers work with students to improve their reading skills, and with families to strengthen their involvement in literacy education. Volunteers' work involves modeling and/or co-teaching literacy strategies, improving classroom management skills, sharing basic teaching practices, developing teaching materials, tutoring students, involving families in literacy, and promoting a culture of reading.

Volunteers work in communities with a high need for literacy promotion, and that have expressed interest in collaborating on this initiative. There, the Volunteers support the Ministry of Education and school counterparts in achieving their goal of having students reading and writing before the third grade.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Spanish Primary Literacy Promoters are needed more than ever in public schools as most students did not attend any in-person learning from March 2020-August 2021. During the 2020-2021 school year, virtual education was available at the national level but not all students had access to the educational programming. In addition, not all students are able to learn to read or write through virtual programming. It is expected that most students have fallen behind and will require extra literacy support to catch up.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach literacy.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:

• Experience working with elementary school students
• Experience in literacy tutoring (previous Spanish literacy teaching a plus)
• Teaching experience and experience working with teachers and/or school personnel
• Experience working with Spanish speaking populations
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Preschool, 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.

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position.
A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish

Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

Competitive candidates will have conversational Spanish skills at the time they apply and will commit to continuing their language learning while awaiting departure. Peace Corps Dominican Republic provides intensive language training during the 11-week Pre-Service Training. At the end of training, Trainees are required to have an intermediate level oral proficiency in Spanish in order to be sworn in as a Volunteer. Trainees that arrive with conversational Spanish skills are likely to reach this level. Considering Volunteers of this program will be teaching in Spanish, the advanced Spanish levels are critical for an effective Peace Corps service.

Living Conditions

Living Arrangements: Volunteers will live with a host family during the 11-week Pre-Service Training in a community near Santo Domingo. Volunteers will live with a second host family for the first 4-6 months of service in their assigned community. This living arrangement is designed to facilitate language acquisition and community integration. Although most Volunteers are able to move out on their own after the obligatory 4-6 month homestay period (in addition to the 11-week training homestay), there is no guarantee that independent housing will be available.

Service Locations and Transportation: Volunteers are assigned to both rural communities and small towns. Living conditions and transportation limitations can contribute to a physically demanding two-year Peace Corps service. Volunteers will be limited to the transportation available in their communities (generally, this includes regular or semi-regular service by pick-up trucks, vans, and/or collective taxis). In some cases, Volunteers may be required to walk long distances to work engagements.

Housing and Amenities: The houses where Volunteers live typically have corrugated steel roofs, walls of wood or cement block, and cement floors. They may or may not have amenities like running water, electricity, or reliable phone service. Most communities that host Volunteers have phone service within the community. However, there are situations where Volunteers have to travel up to an hour to access phone network. While most communities have electricity, power outages are common.

Dress and Appearance: Personal appearance is important for Volunteers representing the Peace Corps and Dominican partner agencies. Dominicans consider personal appearance to be an important indicator of a person, and a Volunteer’s appearance will influence their relationship with the community. Volunteers are expected to dress to Dominican standards for development professionals.

Diversity and Support: Peace Corps Dominican Republic staff provide support to a diverse Volunteers. in addition, Volunteers use their experiences as members of different groups and identities to help their peers navigate social, cultural, political, religious, personal, and other challenges. Current Volunteer support networks include the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Marginalized Voices Support Group, and the Pride LGBTQI+ Support Group. Please see below for additional considerations.

Sexual Orientation: Intolerant attitudes towards the LGBTQI+ community are still held by many people. While same-sex relationships are not illegal in the Dominican Republic, most Dominican communities only accept heterosexual relationships. However, LGBTQI+ Volunteers find safe spaces within the Peace Corps network and when visiting larger metropolitan areas.

Ethnicity and Race: Different American ethnic, racial, or national minority identities are not always viewed as “American.” Volunteers may experience negation of their American identity due to local assumptions of who an American is or what an American looks like. Some Black American or African American Volunteers may be confused to be Dominican. Others, including those who choose to wear their hair naturally or in braided hairstyles, or those who have darker skin tones, may be assumed to be Haitian. These misunderstandings may result in a Volunteer's citizenship being questioned or differential treatment. Volunteers find support and representation within active Dominican natural hair movements, especially found in large cities. Despite these challenges, many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences on the diversity of American culture and successfully complete their services with support from Peace Corps, other Volunteers, and community members.

Serving in Dominican Republic

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

Couples Information

Peace Corps Dominican Republic is able to accommodate couples serving together within the Education sector as well as cross-sector couples. Therefore, an applicant for this program who would like to serve with a partner must have a partner who applies and qualifies for one of the following opportunities:
• Spanish Primary School Literacy Promoter, or
• Community Economic Development Facilitator

All Trainees are required to live with host families during Pre-Service Training. If partners are assigned to different sectors, the partners will live apart for most of Pre-Service Training. Couples who are in different sectors are usually allowed to visit each other for two weekends during the training. After swearing in, Volunteers are required to live with a host family in their assigned community for a minimum of four months. The same is required for couples, but only for six weeks.

The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couples placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process, recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit:”

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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