JRF Scholar Spotlight – Chestan James

January 24, 2020 - News, Scholars

Personal Reflection:
Last Summer, I traveled to Ghana to participate in a service-learning program where I worked with communities affected by child trafficking and child labor. l collaborated with GESI representatives in a school, and observed the school’s organizational structure and created action plans to improve the students’ school experience, identify funding needs and opportunities, and revamp a tutoring program in collaboration with teachers. Challenging Heights is a non-profit that works to protect children’s rights and end child trafficking. Their primary method of prevention is through the education system leading to the founding of the Challenging Heights School located in Winneba, Ghana, which offers a quality and affordable education for underserved children in the area. My classroom was composed of 30 students ages ranging 10 and 12.
 
As a Secondary Education major, I was responsible for lecturing, assigning exercises and homework, and designing exams. While I primarily taught math, English, and U.S. history, the biggest challenge was presenting the academic information to students in an effective and culturally relevant manner in order to maximize their learning and test scores. I sought to do this by leveraging my relationships with other school faculty to develop constructive lesson plans such as an outdoor activity that taught cardinal directions along with the geographical location of Ghana in relation to other countries.
 
By acting upon both the mental and physical aspects of learning while also keeping the content culturally relevant, the students were able to firmly grasp the concept. I was also able to connect to the students through teaching them about profits and losses that students can use if they ever want to sell an item, determine reasonable purchase prices, or start a business of their own. Lastly, I facilitated an exam review by splitting the class into teams. High student engagement revealed to students that academic content can be presented in a way that’s fun and effective.
 
The result of my teaching in Ghana led to an increase in test scores, particularly in math and English subjects. The faculty at the institution will evaluate my teaching methods so that they may continue to develop a curriculum that benefits the students the most. This experience was extremely eye-opening, and I was able to see firsthand the differences and lack of resources that so many are forced to deal with during their educational matriculation, but I am so glad that I was able to make a lasting impact on the students of Winneba, Ghana.
 


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