Selena's Story: Staying in School

Selena at charity school in el salvador

Selena studies hard so she can stay in school and help her family break free from the cycle of poverty.

Selena is in the second grade. She is an avid reader, diligent worker and a student, according to her teachers that “can help other students in the classroom.” And Selena knows that if she studies hard, she will “make only A’s.”
 
However, this tenacious 8-year-old was not always a picture of confidence and enthusiasm. Selena’s teacher recalls, “She was very shy, didn’t socialize with other people and missed class a lot.” Selena was visibly unprepared for school.

Like many children from poor backgrounds, neither Selena nor her seven siblings before her had been exposed to early stimulation or any form of education before entering school. These students often have a much harder time transitioning, making it more likely that they will drop out before receiving even a basic education.

That is why Save the Children works with teachers, particularly preschool and first grade teachers, to ensure that students have the support they need to stay in school and succeed.
 
They have also worked with these teachers and key leaders from Selena’s community to create an annual operating plan for 2010 and a school strategic plan for 2010-2014.
 
As a result of this work, the school has prioritized reading comprehension and Save the Children has not only made books available in the classroom, but has also trained teachers in using them, providing on-site follow-up and facilitating teacher study circles.
 
In the Salvadoran community of subsistence farmers and occasional day workers, many children drop out of school to help their parents work the land, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
 
Selena’s parents, however, understand the importance of education, despite the fact that neither of them can read or write and never attended school. Her mother says she “would like [Selena] to keep going to school so that she can decide [later in life] what she would like to do.”
 
And Selena seems more than happy to fulfill her mother’s wishes. She excitedly shows off one of her classroom’s book, sharing, “I enjoy school very much because I learn to read, write and study.”
 
With the help of some creative Save the Children strategies, such as reading aloud, compiling group dictionaries, playing in learning corners and using “word catchers” and “word walls,” children are engaged and encouraged to take charge of their own educations.
 
Selena has definitely done so. She exclaims, “With the ‘word wall,’ I learned the letters ‘h’ and ‘p’…I didn’t know those before!”

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