The Abundant Life Foundation supports the building of schools, and the work of teachers. We’ve talked to many island teachers over the years, and recently had the chance to ask Darla Pandy some questions about teaching in the Bay Islands.
Why did you become a teacher / Why do you teach?
I became a teacher because as I was growing up on the island of St. Helene there were no local teachers. The teachers at my schools were from the main land. The language of St. Helene is English, and the teachers were Spanish speakers with a desire to speak and learn English. Classes were held on average three days a week. Now, we know the importance of students being in class five days a week.
I teach because I see the importance of education, and I want each child on the island of Roatan to acknowledge the potential they have in them. I believe each person has an opportunity to learn.
What do you think is the importance of education on the island?
Every person on the island is exceptional. We have seen how speaking both languages helps many people on the island achieve their goals – that’s what makes me proud! The importance of being able to learn something new every day is what drives each islander to triumph.
What changes have you seen happen in education over the past 5-10 years on the island?
I have seen many changes! Overcoming the bilingual issue has been challenging. However, the implementation of Education Intercultural Bilingue (EIB) program has opened many opportunities for students to study both English and Spanish. The person who created the program was one of the oldest teachers on the island – he had a vision for the children of the island to acquire as much education they could receive. Not only, did the program help the students, it improved us as teachers. We are happy for this program!
Can you share a story of when you felt you were making a difference as a teacher?
In my last year of teaching at the Elfrida Brooks school, I taught grade 4. Everyday became a heart break for me, knowing it was almost time for me to leave, and I would have to start over at a new school. I recall sitting at my desk preparing all final paper work and one of my students came to me and said, “Ms. Darla I want to thank you for teaching me how to add, subtract, divide, multiply – but mostly I want to say thank you for being a great person to me.” Those words inspired me to keep moving forward, knowing there were more students in my future who needed me.
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