School Luis Mena shares a wall with Casa Santo Domingo, Antigua’s top-rated tourist attraction, shares a wall with school Luis Mena but the beautiful monastery-turned-tourist-hotel is a world apart from the everyday life of this school. We loved monastery Santo Domingo, but school Luis Mena turned into the highlight of our trip.
We were just leaving monastery Santo Domingo when we heard the commotion of school dismissal so we quickened our pace, turned the corner and saw the children leaving school, running and jumping and playing around the way children do, many with family waiting to take them home.
We asked a staff member if we could enter to speak to the school administrator and she led us to teacher Luisa Fernanda. We explained to Luisa Fernanda that we would love to see the school so she asked the school administrator and got permission to give us a tour the following morning at 9 am!
We spent the rest of the afternoon buying school supplies, asking stationery supply stores what teachers needed most.
Luisa Fernanda met us at the front gate promptly at 9 am and lead us directly to her classroom. The students were in the English class so we had time to talk and learn all about the challenges she faced as a teacher.
Luisa Fernanda’s class of 40 6th graders was overcrowded and, worse, the government couldn’t provide enough books for all of the children in the class. Homework was very difficult to assign since the children didn’t have books to bring home.
The school day was from 9 am to 2 pm, at which time another school used the space for different students. Luisa Fernanda told us that she locked up the supplies, many that she bought with her own money, but sometimes she would find the lock broken and the supplies missing in the morning.
It was now time to pick up the children from their English class and bring them to the computer room. The children were so full of energy and were very excited to meet us. We walked together to the computer room.
Now we toured the school and had the chance to meet the bright-faced children from all the grades.