Aguascalientes is a tiny community located in the mountains of northern Nicaragua accessible only by a single winding, rocky road. From its Education Center in the nearest town, Cusmapa, Fabretto supports the children of Aguascalientes with education and school lunch programs. For seven years, the preschool, “Bellas Aguas” (Beautiful Waters), was located in a very special place: the home of its teacher, Marcia.
In our interview, Marcia tells us that she opened her home to her students because the children in Aguascalientes had no public preschool nearby. In Nicaragua, 43% of preschool-age children do not enroll in early education programs, often due to lack of access to public preschools. “My home ensured that our children had access to early education,” she explains. With a collection of small plastic tables and chairs, Marcia put together a simple classroom. She taught class daily, and neighboring mothers in the community cooked lunch and carried to over to the house so that the children, ages 2-5, wouldn’t go hungry.
This year, Marcia received exciting news: the Ministry of Education had decided to build a school in Aguascalientes at long last. The classrooms were intended exclusively for primary education, but luckily, one classroom has remained available for Marcia’s preschoolers. Now, each day, the littlest students in Aguascalientes make their way to a new school building where Marcia is waiting for them.
“I enjoy working with children and supporting the parents in my community,” Marcia says, explaining her motivation. “I feel called to teach.” There are many dedicated teachers in rural Nicaragua, but unfortunately, most of them do not have access to professional development. In fact, over 70% of public preschool teachers in the country have no formal training. Marcia confesses, “The hardest part for me is continuing to learn as a teacher and professional. I don’t have many economic resources, and I live in a community that’s far away from secondary schools and universities.”
To improve education quality for students, Fabretto offers training for teachers that helps them to improve their practice. Marcia has attended training sessions in Cusmapa and now uses updated teaching techniques in her classroom. Still, living in such a remote area means that Marcia must overcome barriers of time and distance. Marcia tells us, “Sometimes I have to leave my own children with friends or family to be able to attend Fabretto training. But even with these challenges, I feel very grateful that I can receive training. I’ve learned so much about the Montessori methodology and I can now make my own teaching materials for my classroom.”
Marcia’s dedication to the children of Aguascalientes is truly inspirational. Her words speak to the heart and soul of the Fabretto community: “To be somebody in life, you have to make sacrifices; I make all of these sacrifices for the future of my community and my children.”
Fabretto teachers have true vocation, and teacher training makes them the best they can be. Through training, Fabretto improves education quality for thousands of children in underserved communities. Since Fabretto teachers are specifically “trained-to-train” other teachers at their schools, this activity is a cost effective way of disseminating knowledge to hard-to-reach rural schools in Nicaragua.