GVP’s goal is to develop a documented, effective and exemplary program that equips refugee learners with histories of interrupted education with the skills to succeed in life and achieve their dreams. In doing so, we aim to provide a model for other programs serving students with similar backgrounds.
Our program is designed specifically to equip recently arrived refugee girls with the English language literacy, content knowledge and vocabulary, life skills and learning strategies they will need for successful study in a high school or equivalency program. Most GVP students have experienced interruptions in their formal education and come with limited written literacy experiences. Some have never had any formal schooling before. Teachers work together, with a large community of dedicated volunteers, to individualize instruction for students and provide a safe and supportive learning environment.
Our approach to learning is constructivist. Following the work of educational theorist Lev Vygotsky (1986), we believe that learners must construct their own knowledge through a social process that involves the support and guidance of teachers, peers, and other helpers. For development and learning to take place, teachers and learners must operate in what Vygotsky refers to as the Zone of Proximal Development or ZPD – the place where development and learning meet. This is the zone where learners are almost ready to know and/or do something new, and can achieve it with support and scaffolding. It is the role of the teacher to find out where students are in their learning and to meet them at that place with appropriate instruction, challenges, and activities.
Our Educational Approach.
- We aim to develop a warm, rich, and productive learning community. Teachers and staff are learners alongside students.
- We are concerned with the whole learner – personal development, social development, physical development, health, and citizenship as well as academic development.
- Learners are active in the learning process.
- Learners frequently learn through interacting and collaborating.
- We study and apply promising practices for working with newcomer students. (Short & Boyson, 2012)
- Teachers and learners collaborate across disciplines.
- We emphasize academic language and literacy learning. We use block scheduling for longer ESOL/ELA periods and also use Literacy Workshops–daily Individual and small-group support for literacy and interdisciplinary learning, facilitated by our community tutors program, and led by our ESOL/Literacy Teacher and Coordinator, Daphne Hall. Students receive almost 3 hours per day of English language and literacy instruction and support.
- We integrate art and music into our curriculum and weekly class schedule. We value music and art as powerful modes of communication, learning, meaning making, and creative expression.