Our Butterflies are bookworms

By Vanessa Smith & Emma Wingreen - Long-term Mariposa Volunteers and PiLA Fellows

In our literacy program at Mariposa, trained teachers work with students to develop strong reading comprehension skills and a passion for literature. Our elementary school spelling and reading classes emphasize the development of foundational oral-visual competencies, recognition skills, and comprehension. We know the importance of reading to and with the girls from the moment they enter Mariposa.

In many schools throughout the Dominican Republic, overcrowded classrooms and a lack of resources often result in a large percentage of students falling behind academically.  In the Dominican Republic, low reading proficiency in primary schools, 25% of which are performing below national metrics, coupled with schools graduating underprepared students has led to staggering attrition rates. More than 30% of students do not even reach high school, and of those that do, roughly 65% fail to achieve grade-level reading proficiency.

Our goal at MDRF is to ensure that each of our girls graduates 3rd grade with a mastery of basic spelling and reading, as well as a love for books. We reinforce core competencies in literacy both inside and outside the classroom through our library lending system, innovative reading classes, and one-on-one tutoring sessions. We devote several years to literacy  classes, tutoring and engagement so that our girls are able to excel in their studies and develop a love of learning.

Our youngest Maripositas learn to read books bothin print and on the murals painted around the center. As our Maripositas grow into Mariposas, they enjoy participating in book clubs and having independent reading time. Finally, as Mariposotas, they take part in writer’s workshops, writer’s retreats, and book discussions with notable authors.

We know that we can only achieve our mission of educating, empowering, and employing girls by establishing a strong foundation of literacy skills at a young age. That is why we place such an emphasis on reading and why all of our students are enrolled in school full-time. By the time our girls graduate high school, they are reading at or above grade level. They are now Mariposas Volando (“Flying Butterflies”) intent on graduating college and achieving their professional goals.

Aislinn Doyle