Spanish Primary School Literacy Promoter

Project Description

Peace Corps Dominican Republic is the only Peace Corps program focusing on literacy in Spanish. Spanish Primary School Literacy Promoters provide critical support to address challenges within the Dominican education system. Volunteers work alongside Dominican teachers in Spanish to support childhood literacy in the native language of the Dominican Republic. By strengthening childhood literacy programs, Volunteers and their counterparts collaborate in an effort 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 helps to lay a foundation for lifelong learning and supports communities’ development opportunities through access to quality education, effective reading and writing skills.

Volunteers serve as a resource for school staff (including the principal, teachers, librarian, counselor, and/or academic coordinator), students and families. Specifically, Volunteers will work with teachers to integrate innovative teaching practices into the classroom, with students to improve their reading skills, and with families to strengthen their involvement in literacy education. Work will involve 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 will work in communities with a high need for literacy promotion, who have also expressed interest in collaborating on this initiative. Volunteers will support the Ministry of Education in achieving its goal of increasing students’ reading and writing skills by the third grade.
The collaboration between school staff and Spanish Primary Literacy Promoters is needed more than ever in public schools as most students did not attend any in person learning from March 2020-Aug. 2021. During the 2020-2021 school year, virtual education was available on a national level but wasn’t successful with students learning to read. It is expected that most students have fallen behind and will require extra support to catch up.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

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

• Competitive 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:

•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.

•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

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 provides intensive language training during the 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training. At the end of training, Peace Corps Dominican Republic requires an intermediate-mid level of oral proficiency in order to be sworn in as a Volunteer. Trainees that arrive with conversational Spanish skills are likely to reach this level. Volunteers will be teaching in Spanish therefore the need for advanced Spanish/fluent speakers is very important and different than other Education programs.

Living Conditions

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 to facilitate language acquisition and community integration. Although most Volunteers are able to move out on their own after the obligatory 4- to 6-month homestay (in addition to the training homestays), there is no guarantee that independent housing will be available.

Volunteers are assigned to both rural communities and towns. Living conditions and transportation limitations can be physically demanding. Volunteers will have to use the available transportation in their assigned community. Generally, local transportation includes regular or semi-regular service by pick-up trucks, vans, and/or collective taxis. In some cases, Volunteers may have to walk long distances to work activities. Houses usually have corrugated steel or cement roofs, walls of wood or cement block, and cement floors. They may or may not have amenities such as running water, electricity, or reliable cell service. Most communities have cell service within the community, however, there are situations where Volunteers have to travel up to an hour to access reliable service. Although most communities have electricity, power outages are common.

Personal appearance is important for Volunteers representing the Peace Corps and Dominican partner agencies, particularly the Dominican Ministry of Education. Dominicans consider personal appearance to be an important indicator about a person, and a Volunteer’s appearance will influence their relationship with the community. Volunteers are expected to dress to Dominican standards for teachers, which is at minimum a clean polo shirt, dress pants or skirt and closed toed shoes.

Peace Corps Dominican Republic provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers. Volunteers use their experiences as members of different underrepresented groups to support their peers as they may navigate social, cultural, political, religious, personal, and other challenges. Current support networks include the Diversity and Inclusion Board, the Marginalized Voices Support Group, and the Pride LGBTQ Support Group. Please see below for additional considerations.

Sexual Orientation: Intolerant attitudes towards the LGBTQI+ community are still held by many people. The country has a Roman Catholic constitution, and a large portion of the population is either Catholic or Evangelical Christian. While same-sex relationships are not illegal in the Dominican Republic, many people reject homosexual relationships. However, LGBTQI+ Volunteers find safe spaces within the Peace Corps Dominican Republic network and when visiting larger metropolitan areas.

Ethnicity: Different ethnic, racial or national minority American identities are often not viewed as “American.” Volunteers may thus experience negation of their American identity due to local assumptions of what an American looks like. While some Black/African American Volunteers may blend in with the local Dominican population, others including those who choose to wear their hair in its natural state or braided hairstyles, or who have darker skin tones, may be perceived as Haitian. This may lead to one’s citizenship being questioned and ultimately differential treatment. Volunteers find support and representation within active Dominican natural hair movements in larger cities. Similarly, with an increased focus on migration issues around the world, Volunteers of Latin American decent may also have their identity questioned and/or mistaken for Central and South American migrants. 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 the Peace Corps Dominican Republic network and certain 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

The Dominican Republic is able to accommodate couples serving together within the Education sector as well as cross-sector couples. Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following:

• Spanish Primary School Literacy Promoter
• Youth Development Volunteer

All Trainees are required to live with host families during Pre-Service Training. If you and your partner are assigned to different sectors, you 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 4 months. For couples, this requirement is reduced to 6 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 couple 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: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.

Medical Considerations

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

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