In June of 2015, I was privileged to join my wife and several other swim school owners on a service trip to the island of Roatan, in Honduras. The purpose of the trip was to provide much-needed toys & supplies to some of the public schools there, and to raise physical fitness awareness.
Of the nearly fifty swim school owners, instructors and family members that made up our group, I was the only school teacher, therefore, I viewed the experience through a different lens than the others. I also made several connections with the teachers and directors. Through these adult interactions, I discovered many of the educational needs of the schools, and in turn am forming Rally for Roatan, a pipeline of sorts for teachers in America and elsewhere to donate these items.
On this page you will find a wish list of instructional materials and a means of getting them to the schools in Roatan. (There is a special opportunity arising mid-September, 2015.) You will also find pictures, videos, history and stories of math education in Roatan. Your help is greatly needed and appreciated by the wonderful and diverse people of this beautiful, charming Caribbean island.
Thank you in advance for your generosity,
The Wish List
“The following list is a donation request for the Coordination Office for Intercultural Bilingual Schools and the Teacher’s Association of the Bay Islands.These supplies are needed all year-long and benefit the schools in our district. We thank you for your generosity and support.”
— Natelle Forbes,
Bay Island Coordinator for Intercultural Multilingual Education
- Math Textbooks & Workbooks (See Special Note Below)
- Manipulatives kits or sets
- Math Manipulative Games
- Flashcards (Mult/Div/Add/Sub/Fractions)
- Posters or Charts (Mult/Div/Add/Sub/Fractions/Shapes/Numbers)
Note on textbooks: Schools here are looking for English math textbook series that span several grade levels. If your school or district is looking to get rid of old textbooks, please consider donating them to the Roatan schools. This Spreadsheet lists the quantities by grade level that are needed. These are relatively small numbers; most schools can be outfitted with fewer than 100 books; the entire district needs fewer than 1,500. Teachers editions and materials are needed as well.
Note on shipping: Contact Chris Shore, firstname.lastname@example.org, to make arrangements for covering the shipping costs.
Getting it to Roatan
The Rotary Club of Roatan is sending a quarter-shipping container to Roatan Mid-September, 2015. If you send your donations to the address below, they will be sent in that container, saving you cost, and making sure that the supplies reach their proper destination. Please write
Michael J Hoise
Rally for Roatan
472 Nth Cammann St
Coos Bay, OR 97420-3402
Schools in Roatan
25% of all Roatan children do not have the means to attend to school. Of those that do, 30% do not continue beyond the 6th grade. This will change as the economy improves. Thirty years ago, there was no electricity and no paved roads on the island. Progress on Roatan has a strong upward trajectory that can be accelerated with a little bit of help.
Our 2015 Visit
We visited six schools:
- Victor Stanley West End School
- Froylan Turcios School
- Escuela Juan Lindo
- Garby Nelson
- Thomas McField
- Isidro Sabio
We provided donations from the swim school owners and from the clients of the schools.The outpouring of generousity was amazing. The supplies ranged from desks to soccer balls to toothbrushes to backpacks.
Another intention of the trip was to provide physical fitness awareness. The kids had a great deal of fun with both the new exercises and the activities.
Many of the students greeted us warmly. We learned that many kids had not seen pictures of themselves, so they got a kick out of us showing them their images on our phones.
I was able to observe a teacher do an outstanding job of teaching 1-digit subtraction. Watch the video below and you will be as equally impressed. The surprise for me was learning later that the class was 4th grade (in the U.S. this topic is taught in 2nd).
I also had a unique opportunity to teach a brief high school math lesson. I could see on the board that the lesson was about the surface area of a sphere. The teacher had written the formula A = 4πr² and there was an example showing how to calculate the area given the radius. I saw the students doing guided practice in their notebooks. The teacher learned that I also taught math and offered to have me show something on the board. The teacher translated from her limited English what I said. I kept it simple, checking for undertanding via head nods after each step… I drew a sphere, then a hemisphere, then the Great Circle. I asked how many of these circles would it take to cover the surface of the sphere. We took a finger vote. Most of the class claimed “2.” I claimed that the teacher already showed them… in the formula … 4 circles (πr²). I then applauded the teacher for knowing that. (You can see me building her up to her students, in the picture below. They all applauded her.)
The trip ended with the Swim Celebration on the beach at Half Moon Bay in the West End. I was surprised on an island how children didn’t know how to float. The lessons were readily accepted, as was the swimming gear (swim suits, intertubes and goggles).
Our group will be returning to the amazing land and people of Roatan in the summer of 2016. Thank you in advance for your support.