Marla’s Minute: ACE and AVC

Marla’s Minute: ACE and AVC

Since all the craziness continues in the Education Department in Jamaica over who learns online vs. who goes to school, ACE found a common problem happening among our sponsored students…well, among several common problems.

Most of our students were unable to learn via tablets because they didn’t have one. Then there was the issue of students being given instructions to use their parent’s phone for lessons using data. The problem was there were two to three students in different grades all wanting to use mommy’s phone at the same time, as well as mommy! So, that wasn’t working either. We know these facts because ACE has many parents of sponsored students employed with us who told us, and we heard from other parents in the sponsorship program. No internet, no tablets, no phones and, if a parent works, no supervision. Sound familiar?

We hope it’s better in the U.S. than here because our Ministry of Education is having to correct or modify its policies weekly. And, frankly, I would not want to be in their shoes. They are trying to keep adjusting even while the Ministry of Health is making constant changes to the health codes. It really is craziness.

Then ACE had an idea. What if we create a place where at least 30 of our students who had no way of connecting to an online class could do so on a daily basis in a safe environment with adult supervision to help with connections and facility needs?

Introducing ACE Visual Classroom or AVC! AVC will be held at the ACE office at Llanrumney and at the hotel. Beginning November 1st, ACE staff plans to implement a Visual Classroom upstairs in the Henry Morgan room for 15 students, one ACE person, and a volunteer parent. The second AVC will be in the ACE Headquarters office on our Llanrumney property for another 15 students.

The question came up earlier, why just 15 per classroom and not more? In accordance with the Ministry of Education guidelines, ACE is not a school and therefore can only provide enough space per location for 15. If we chose to have more than 15 per location, we would fall under the guidelines of a school and, well, let’s face it, we are not a school. Each location has bathroom facilities, full internet and tables for spacing. We are seeking the advice of principals, former teachers and Board Members on how to do this in the best way possible.

There was just one thing missing from this idea. We didn’t have computers or tablets for our student to join on the internet for their classes. Have you ever heard the expression, “The lights are on, but no one is home”? That’s us. Everything was in place — even the students that will be walking to AVC – but nothing to use.

Then it happened – again. We prayed that God would provide what the students needed to attend online classes and, thanks to a very generous family, ACE has 10 tablets on their way down to Jamaica. These are not cheap tablets, either; they will handle everything the school needs our students to do. Thank you, friends, for making a huge difference in the lives of these young Jamaicans and their families.

Stay tuned for pictures and updates next month.  In the meantime, remember all the PB&J you brought down? ACE is providing lunch for each child who cannot bring a lunch with juice. We’ve got enough PB&J to last us to the end of the year hopefully. Thank God for His ideas on how to create change. When we ask our volunteers to remember some key sayings, it’s because we had to learn them first…. it’s just the way we like it!

Blessings and Very Grateful


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 Have a Team? Want a Team? Need a Team? Join a team!

 Have a Team? Want a Team? Need a Team? Join a team!

That’s right, ACE wants you and your family, your friends, your church, your school, and anyone who wants to know what is happening here on the ground in St. Mary Jamaica to come this spring or summer.

We have grown and are growing at levels we have never seen before. It’s wonderful!! ACE is touching so many lives through our sponsorship programs with our local students, ACE Quiz Bowl coming up next month, Cloud 9 Chocolate, Peace House construction, canning sessions, lunch-and- learn programs and much more! We need your help in a real physical way!!

If you are thinking about getting involved this coming year and making a huge impact for one week, think ACE. We need you more than ever. If you can read a children’s book, massage lotion on our dear infirmary friends, teach at lunch, mix cement, or even brush a horse or two or three, we need your help. Our Peace House is off the ground, while new employees are being trained to take over.

God has expanded our borders way beyond what we thought possible and we are excited. At the same time, it’s scary as we can’t do all of this by ourselves. That’s why we are asking you to seriously think about getting involved this coming year physically. Come down ready to work and laugh and make a difference. ACE is the place and we’d love to see you!

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ACE Adopts a Very Special School….

For years, we’ve been talking about building our own school. Then our plans changed, as God withheld the property we had hoped would open up for a school, at least for now. Believing God’s timing is far better than ours, we pulled back.  ACE wanted to build a special needs school at one time but found that putting both schools together would not attract the local families, as there seems to be a stigma with joining a special needs school with a regular school.

Every day for the past five years, as we drive to the ACE Campus, we pass a school called Edge Hill . You might have seen it – the name is on a big Digicel sign. In checking online, we realized that the Digicel Foundation had in fact built this school for the 30+ students who were assessed as special needs. Remember when your parents and teachers would say to you, “Never assume, always ask?” Well, I must have forgotten that because I assumed Digicel was actively involved in the day-to-day needs of running the school. I was wrong.

After meeting the vice principal, Mrs. Lee when ACE donated the stove a few months ago, we learned that Digicel only built the building but doesn’t support the actual operation and costs involved to run the school. And that’s when ACE enthusiastically said, “We will!!!” We became partners this year with Edge Hill Special Needs School and feel honored to have access to the students and wonderful teachers.

Our first interaction with the students was last week, when our friends and partners at Castine Church conducted our first home economics and shop classes for the students. Eyes got wide and smiles began when we opened the chocolate chip cookie mix and the peanut butter cookies. Who doesn’t love cookies?!

While the cookies were being made, another class on table-setting was being conducted across the hall. Setting a table with forks and knives might come in handy if the Mayor were to stop by. The best part of was cutting the peanut butter sandwiches before eating them.

In another class room, the shop students all built sailboats. Using drills and an electric saw, our expert volunteers allowed the students to actually cut and drill into their wood for their boats. I’m not sure which had a greater impact, using the equipment or finishing their boats! It was a wonderful time. The school asked if we would be willing to sponsor some of their students as the need is great. Of course! We are honored to have so many volunteers on a waiting list to adopt/sponsor students so that should be an easy ask.

Next time you visit us in Jamaica, bring us some home economics stories and cooking items. Cookie sheets, pots, pans,, bowls, spoons – you name it, they need it. And if you are the shop kind of person, bring your old tools, new tools, levels, safety goggles, measuring tapes, and anything to build. They love it and, frankly, so do we!!

ACE adds Super Student Status!

For many years now, ACE has focused on helping our students and their families push through the barrier and challenges of living in poverty to achieve a higher level of education through the child sponsorship program. ACE is now on its 10th year of sponsoring St. Mary children. We thought we would give you some factual information on how education can impact a student and their families if we make a commitment to stick with sponsorship.

Tahjebe Suer is making the Super Student Status with ACE.  

It’s not every day that a student like Tahj comes along, but when he does we have to highlight his hard work and desire to move forward in his studies. We told you about him back in July’s newsletter. Several years ago, when little Tahj was just in Primary school, ACE began sponsoring him at Water Valley Primary School and then on to high school at St. Mary where he graduated top of his class. Tahj has a vision to become a Ship Captain, and last year in faith he applied to the Caribbean Maritime University located in Kingston. This is a prestigious school with 100% job placement that costs an average of $12K US per year to attend.

Tahj was accepted and worked with ACE all summer to earn money for his books and food. While he was busy helping ACE, we were praying about where the money was going to come from. By now, we should all know God comes through every time when He is brought into it – and, as usual, several men and women who have followed Tahj and his family heard God’s call, stepped up and committed the funds needed to get him through this first year.

Last week, Tahj was given the prestigious award of being the number one student in his class for excellence and grades!!  We are so proud!! That’s why ACE has a created a new level of child sponsorship called Super Student Status – Tahj, this is for you and your family! Look for Tahj this summer as he intends to be working full time with ACE again. Let him know how proud you are. We certainly smile every time we hear that name.

Now, comes year two. We are praying again for the funds to come in for his second out of four years at school. Want to help? Let us know!

Who does Field Trips anymore?  ACE Does!

Who does Field Trips anymore? ACE Does!

Not only do the sponsored students get field trips with ACE each year, but we take the entire grade with us — and this season was no different. Students in primary schools study local community and government just like in the states. Remember when you were young and went on a field trip to the capitol or maybe the police station? Our little ones get the same experience. With ACE providing the means and schedule, our students enjoyed the day in Port Maria, learning all about their local community.

We visited the police station where students received a talk from the sergeant about safety and laws, then the mayor gave the students his undivided attention to answer questions. Another group was addressing letters to themselves and mailing them from the post office. The funny part about this field trip is that our own ACE staff seemed to enjoy it as much or more than the students. We even learned that our grown adults had never addressed and stamped and mailed a letter at their own post office. A real change in times, right? What a great experience for everyone!

After lunch with patties, the students received the finale at the fire station, where they got to climb into the firetruck and hold a hose spraying water. Is it any wonder all our third graders decided they wanted to be part of local government? Jobs like fireman, policeman, and postal attendant were all at the top of their lists, but no one wanted to be mayor! Perhaps it was the big desk he sat behind that looked very large or scary. Either way, we are grateful for our local servants in Port Maria for making the two days of field trips very educational and fun.