Last month, Suncoast Christian College Year One teachers Rebecca Forrest, and Susan Gray visited the Philippines to mentor the teachers at Nissi Academy General Luna Academy.
Founded in 2015 by former Suncoast teacher, Christine Carby, and her husband John – Nissi Academy aims to offer the children of a small island in the Philippines – Siargao, excellence in education with a Christian ethos.
College Principal Greg Matisske comments, “Christine and John’s vision is perfect, providential fit for Suncoast, and so we have established a sister-school relationship with Nissi.”
Rapid growth, much need
Christine Carby comments. “In recent years, Nissi has been growing exponentially, with a new year level class added each year. We now have almost 180 students across preschool to Grade 4.”
With student enrolments multiplying, Christine and John called out for help in mentoring Nissi’s local teaching staff. Answering the call, Susan and Rebecca got on the plane!
Philippines – on the ground
During their stay, Rebecca and Susan facilitated a staff professional development session, empowering the local teachers with student-focused strategies to build skills and genres in writing.
By observing how the local teachers approach classroom activities, Rebecca and Susan were able to provide support, feedback, and encouragement. This was particularly evident in applying model writing lessons in all Nissi’s seven classes.
Preschool and Prep wrote simple sentences around their focus phonemes. Students in Years One and Two went on an Australian Outback Safari, complete with Aussie Tour Guide and native animals, and wrote a recount.
Nissi’s Year Three and Four students participated in a modeled dragon drawing and began writing a narrative, selecting a problem and resolution for their character. Rebecca and Susan were able to model a variety of
teaching strategies such as; team teaching phonics, grammar, maths, literacy lessons, and demonstrating shared reading time.
Rebecca comments, “At Nissi, we built close relationships with the staff, but we also enjoyed journeying with John and Christine and family. Christine, Susan, and I enjoyed many teacher-talks, and poor John, on occasion to draw the line on us Aussie teachers!”
While in Siargao, Rebecca and Susan were able to attend local church services – both in the southern Philippine language of Bisaya and English and help to support the Children’s Church ministry.
Susan comments, “Rebecca and I returned with so many new ‘little friends’ who are close to our hearts. We have a new-found appreciation of the complexity of the cross-cultural mission, and John and Christine’s incredible, Christ-inspired vision.”