Profe Jeidy is one of our longest serving staff members at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School. Although she may come off as shy and soft-spoken, Profe Jeidy is more likely to be described by her colleagues as responsible, passionate, humble, independent, sincere and confident, always willing to help and share her knowledge with those around her (especially if that means sharing book suggestions with her students!).
A strong and fearless advocate of the value of education and women’s rights, Profe Jeidy is a great example to those around her and, in particular, to our young girls.
Having spent time working in the EducaTodos program, in the school office, teaching in the BECA classrooms, and as the volunteer coordinator for the Honduran volunteer teachers, Profe Jeidy is well-versed and knowledgeable in how our school runs.
More than that, however, it is Profe Jeidy’s commitment and love to each one of her students, and her support and friendship to her fellow teachers, that make her so well loved.
Read more about Profe Jeidy in her interview below:
Hometown: La Arda, Santa Barbara
Job at School: Volunteer Coordinator for the Honduran volunteers, 6th grade Spanish and Social Sciences teacher, and the Social Sciences teacher for 'colegio'
4. How long have you been working at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School?
I started in January of 2013 so I’ve been working here for a little over 5 years.
5. How did you first hear about Amigos de Jesús?
I heard about Amigos for the first time in ‘colegio,’ in the school I was studying at to be a teacher. I was in my last year and was getting ready to graduate. I think it was in November that Profe Osman, Mr. Jose (BECA Volunteer), and a couple of ‘jovenes’ – oh, and an Amigos volunteer named Miss Rachael - came to my school to talk about Amigos. I really liked what they had to say so I asked Profe Osman if I could apply and when he said yes, I did. Before it was harder to become a volunteer because you had to do an interview with Madrina Amy and Padrino Wilson. So I came here [to Amigos] and had an interview. There was even a psychologist and I did a five page exam. We were here all morning doing the exam and my parents had to come to Amigos to get to know the school and ‘hogar.’ So I did all of that and then Profe Osman told me that he would call me to tell me if I would be accepted to be a volunteer or not. I remember that Profe Osman made a mistake with the start date. He told me that it was January 13 but it was actually the 16. So I showed up at the ‘hogar’ three days early.
6. What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is teaching the 6th graders. I love being in that classroom. I want to be there all day. Sometimes I ask Mr. Tim or Miss Christina if I can take an extra block. For example, Tuesdays and Thursdays I only have two hours with them, and I like it when Mr. Tim or Miss Christina tell me that I can have another hour with them. I’m happy when I’m around them.
One of the reasons I like being with them so much is because I like the way that they learn. They learn so quickly and they are very curious. When we’re going over things in class and I explain something to them, I like to bring something related to class for them to see. Everything that they learn excites them a lot. They are always asking, “And what else? What more?” Sometimes I come up short and I tell them, “Okay, tomorrow I’m going to investigate this and I’m going to tell you about it,” and they are always like that - curious and asking questions. It’s fun when the kids see me outside of the classroom and ask me, “Profe, what are we going to do today?” So it’s also a challenge for me in that I always need to bring something new to class because they are always asking for more. The only fear I have is that one day they are going to be bored in my class. But for now they are working hard.
7. But you weren't always the 6th grade teacher correct? Can you talk about some of the other jobs that you've had since coming to Amigos in 2013?
Oh, that’s hard! Okay, well at the start I was a teacher and I was in charge of a resource room for kids that weren’t ready to be in second grade yet. It was cool when I first came because I was working with a group of kids that were in second grade but that still didn’t know how to read or do other grade-appropriate things like that. There was five in that group and they didn’t know how to read and only knew about half the alphabet. So during the time for Spanish class, they were with me learning in a more individualized form, and during the time for English class, they were with, at that time it was a volunteer named Chepe, in second grade.
I also taught in EducaTodos and vocational training for awhile. I was the calligraphy, or writing, teacher because I have always liked Spanish and the rules of writing. Then I taught in the BECA classrooms for awhile. I stopped doing that [teaching in the BECA classrooms] in order to support and coordinate the EducaTodos program to help give it more shape and structure. After that I became the Volunteer Coordinator and it was also in that time that I started to help in the office while Profe Osman was finishing his last year of ‘carrera' [his last year of university]. I needed to do that job because there wasn’t a vice principal at the time so I was supporting Profe Osman. It was pretty hard since he wasn't able to be at school all day because of his classes and it was a lot of work on the computer. But anyway, it was what I needed to do and what the school needed from me, so I did it. So that was last year and now this year I have a little more structure as I'm back in the classroom and I’m really happy because that’s where I wanted to be.
8. I know it's hard but can you share one of your favorite memories from your time at Amigos?
One of my favorite things is seeing new kids come here because I always think about the opportunity that they have to be here and how many kids there are outside of Amigos in Honduras that can’t have this opportunity. And it always moves me to see them come here and yeah, wow, just how awesome it is that they’re here. The ideal would be for them to be with their parents but it’s better that they are here at Amigos than being on the street for example. That’s one of my favorite things. What else…sharing the books I read in Spanish with the kids is another one of my favorite things. The kids in 6th grade, for example, like to ask me, “Profe, what book should I read? What do you recommend?” Those are some of my favorite moments, too. And they motivate me to read more, then, since they’re always asking me, “Profe, have you read this book yet?”
9. Can you share something that you have learned from being a teacher at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School and/or something that the children have taught you during your time as a teacher?
There are a lot of things that the kids have taught me but one of the biggest things they have taught me is to value family. They have taught me to be courageous and strong. I can’t image what my life would be like without my parents and I can’t imagine how they endure the fact that they aren’t with their parents. But even so, they get up everyday. They can laugh and they can put in the effort to behave well in school. For me, I can’t imagine myself in that situation. I think I’d be the most rebellious student in the school, the student that fought in class the most, the most angry, etc. I admire so many of them and the effort they make to control themselves. And despite the fact that we are always demanding more from them, they continue to work and give it their all.
I was talking to Psico (the psychologist who works at our school) about ‘Dia del Padre’ (Father’s Day) recently and how much I admire the kids when they sit there and listen to a song or see and take part in an event related to Father’s Day when they haven’t had a paternal figure. How they can be making decorations and crafts for a father when they don’t have anyone to give those crafts to. For as much as we have that kind of figure in the padrinos and madrinas, it’s not the same as having your biological father. But even so, they’re strong. And sometimes it hurts some of them. When we were preparing for the Father’s Day celebration, for instance, one of my students was crying as we were listening to the Father’s Day song because she said the lyrics hurt her. She was crying all of my class. So I told her it was optional and that she could leave, but no. She said she was okay and stayed. And then the next day she came to class and did everything to prepare for the event. That amases me. I admire the strength that they have - how they can broken down and hurt today but tomorrow get right back up again. I’ve learned that from the kids – to be strong.
10. So you've been at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School for awhile now. Can you talk about some of the changes you have seen both in the students and in the school during your time?
In school, each year there is more structure. One specific example is the disciplinary protocol. When you compare how it was in 2013 and how the kids behaved then to how it is now, it is much better, more stable, and much more structured and consistent. In previous years, we had a meeting almost every week about the disciplinary protocol because something wasn’t working well and/or because we felt something needed to be changed and modified. We were always getting together to talk about it with the goal of having consistency for the kids and the truth is that all that work has been fruitful. I remember in 2013 how difficult it could be with the students. So it’s a really good change that the school has experienced, implementing a consistent and structured disciplinary protocol. Another positive change is the fact that the school itself is more structured. Each year there are new changes and I like this a lot because they [the administration] are always saying, “No, what we were doing last year isn’t enough. We are going to be better this year.” They are always thinking about ways to innovate and improve the school and looking for ways update and expand on the knowledge and skill sets of the teachers. They are taking us to trainings and bringing people here to teach and train us, which is really good because we have young teachers, some of whom don’t necessarily have a lot of teaching experience, so all the trainings help make them better people and teachers.
And with the kids, I have also seen many changes. Of course I’ve seen a lot of behavioral changes, for the better, but also in the freedom the kids feel to express themselves. Everything that they think, they have the freedom to say and this is something that I didn’t see as much before. They are talking about everything that happens to them, what they experience and think, and that’s a good thing. This happens both here at the school and in the ‘hogar.’ It’s really cool because it means that they are growing in confidence and that they know that their voices can be heard as much by the teachers as by the ‘padrinos, ‘madrinas’, coordinators, and directors of the ‘hogar.’ It shows that they not only want to make themselves heard and will makes themselves heard, but also that they know there are people here who are listening to them. For example, some of the kids from the ‘hogar’ say that they don’t like it when kids from the community leave early or don’t have class but that they have to come to school anyways. They are making Profe Osman and all of us teachers think about what to do on the days that the students from the community don’t come. What’s something different, fun, and attractive that we can do with them on those days? They even talk about equality and the values we discuss in ‘acto civio’ [those values include: responsibility, effort, positivity, equality, tolerance, and obedience]. They are making themselves heard and I love seeing that.
11. What is something that you hope for for your students in the future?
I want them to be able to choose the career that they want to study. We recently had a meeting in the ‘hogar’ where the administration asked what would be the model school, or what are all the things we'd like to see in our school, as we continue to expand. It moved me a lot because they were asking the students what they wanted to do in the future. I really liked that because many people here in Honduras don’t have the opportunity to choose the career that they are going to study. For example, I didn’t want to be a teacher but my dad told me, “You are going to be a teacher and you need to study to be a teacher,” and I didn’t want to but I didn’t have another option. If I didn’t study to be a teacher, I wasn’t going to study so I said, “Okay, I’m going to be a teacher.” So I studied but I still wasn’t motivated to be a teacher but now I think that the best thing that could have happened to me in life was my decision to come to Amigos de Jesús, meeting so many people here, knowing the kids, etc. This is what I’d like in the future – that they continue to listen to the kids and what they want in their future. Some of them want to be journalists, others doctors, lawyers, and many other things. I hope that they are given the opportunity to be what they want to be in the future.
12.Can you explain a little bit about what it's like to work in a bilingual school with people who come from different countries, cultures, backgrounds, and who speak different languages?
It’s fun to get to know people outside of Honduras and outside of your own culture. It’s cool because we have the opportunity to know and learn about, at least through what the gringos say, another country. We can’t see the United States but we can listen to you all talk about how your culture and country is. I like that you guys, as outsiders, can be critical and talk about what you see in Honduras - what you do and don’t like. I also like that you guys bring new ideas from the United States that can help us teach the kids better because we know how Honduras is in education. For as much drive as we may have to teach well, if we weren’t taught well in the schools we went to, we can’t. The education from the United States is a lot better than the education here in Honduras so we can learn a lot from you guys. We can learn new methods of teaching.
Something else that I also like and admire about the gringos is the bravery you all have in coming to Honduras, especially with the face Honduras has in front of the whole world. And your parents are really brave in letting you come as well. We know that in the world’s view, Honduras is the place with the most crime, the most corruption, a place were there are a lot of gangs. In some places, it’s seen as a place of certain death. But you all have the bravery to come here, to leave many comforts behind in the States – hot water, air conditioning, heating, and many other things that you have there – to come here. What you are looking for I don’t know but it’s good that you guys are here.
At the same time, there are difficulties in working in a bilingual school with Hondurans and gringos. For example, gringos don’t say, “hey,” or greet a lot but for us Hondurans, saying good morning, good afternoon, etc. is something…it’s like breakfast, lunch, and dinner – it’s essential to life here. If you don’t say hi to a Honduran, they think you’re mad at them and things like them. So we’ve tried to understand that about the gringos but I think it’s important that they all try to understand that about us - that we need you guys to say, “Hi, good morning, how are you?” I think that something we need to do to is interact with each other more, spend more time getting to know one another more, talk more, try to understand each other and our cultural differences better. From both sides – the gringos and the Hondurans.
13. How is working at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School unique?
It’s special because the school is a unique one here in Honduras. It’s like Padrino Wilson said when I came to see Amigos for the first time, “Amigos de Jesús is a piece of heaven in Honduras.” The community is different, the students are different, the teachers are different – the entire family of Amigos de Jesús is different. It’s not like anything I’ll find in another school, whether that be another bilingual school or another public or private school in Honduras. It’s different for the way that we teach, for the effort that each teacher puts in to teach well. When a teacher comes to teach here, she can change her mind, way of thinking, and way of teaching. If someone is here for a year or a short time, for two or three months or even just to observe, she will have a change in her life and will leave Amigos de Jesús as a different person.
I know former teachers who taught at Amigos for a time are going to teach in other schools and take with them the things they learned here. I always say that I would like for more schools to come here and observe how classes are given at our school so that they can carry the techniques and ideas we have and use them in other schools. To me, the way we teach here is unique, special, and different because every teacher really makes an effort. They are all invested and are all moving in the same direction and working towards the same goals. All the teachers contribute something here. All of us feel part of the group and the mission of the school. This is very unique. In other schools in Honduras, sometimes the teachers go to class and say, “We have a meeting today so there’s no class” and the kids leave.
The mentality of parents also change when they send their kids to our school. For example, in other public schools, parents are happy when their kids don’t go to school. It’s sad but it’s true. In my community, where I live, for example, the days that teachers don’t arrive to give class, the parents are happy and say, “Oh, great. Now this child can help me with this, and this child with that.” So they see that a child can help more being at home than in school, but that changes when parents send kids to our school.
14. Okay, last question I promise! What's something you would say to someone who is interested in coming to volunteer as a teacher at our school?
Being a volunteer at Amigos de Jesús changes the life of any person. I mean any person – a happy person, an unhappy person, a person who is bitter about life or who feels like s/he doesn’t have a direction in life. If you come to Amigos, you will find a direction. You will find happiness and you will find a direction in your life. It’s like you find a compass and you figure out where you want to go. Amigos will become your compass. For me, I think as people we are always questioning which path to take, where to go, etc. Coming to Amigos de Jesús and thinking about what you want to do in life is very good because you will find an answer.
Also, if you want to learn new things, if you want to learn about love and hope, Amigos de Jesús is the best place to learn about those things. Above all hope. It’s the best place to learn about hope.