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Newsletter Number 13
February  2017

7TH ANNUAL ANGEL'S LADIES LUNCHEON

Wednesday, March 1, St. Regis Resort

 
To be held Wednesday, March 1, 2017, St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, this year’s Angels’ Luncheon – the 7th annual – is held at Carolina Restaurant at 1PM, with reception and registration, 12:30, at Altamira lobby.

Your Angels hosts - Jane Grad, Sandy Howe, Claire Newton, and Beth Fuller – pay all the costs associated with the luncheon. Your donation goes directly to the projects that Angels support. 

Minimum donation requested is $125 USD, or $170 CAD, or MXN 2,500 pesos. Prepayment is appreciated to Mayela at Club Punta Mita Office [Casa Mita]. For banking and dispersing grant, the Angels have arranged a service Agreement with PEACE Punta de Mita. Detailed donation Instructions - for larger donations requesting tax receipts - are available from Casa Mita, PEACE, or from any of the Angels
eception and registration, 12:30, at Altamira lobby.

PEACE ENGLISH CURRICULUM AMENDED

Certified by SEP


During the initial implementation of the PEACE English Program in 2014/5, expert language teacher Rob Haines began conducting workshops using theories from Teaching Unplugged. From this, Haines devised a basic curriculum providing teachers and students with an objective to be met.
 
Recently, discussions between PEACE management and Mexico’s ministry of education, known as SEP, have led to an amendment of the original curriculum. Having a second language certification for students, and closer alignment with SEP’s curriculum models are part of the amendments being made.

The new curriculum needed to be more specific, covering monthly plans stipulating specific targets, including what level of English school groups were expected to be at. Best practices are essential for the success of PEACE programs, and the opportunity for the PEACE English teachers to enhance the curriculum was met with gusto.
Academic supervisor Ali Elias put together a team of four PEACE English teachers to work on this amendment. Selected for their varied teaching experience, the team comprised of Warren Hair, Erika Gutiérrez, Miriam Marín and Karina Orozco. 

The team first devised a realistic time frame that would stipulate what level of English students could meet. Beginning with two years of kindergarten, six years of elementary, three years of secundaria (middle school) and ending with three years of prepatoria (high school), the curriculum team envisioned student’s aptitude according to their twelve accumulated years of study. Using the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), a framework comprising of six levels: A1, A2 (Basic User), B1, B2 (Independent User), C1 and C2 (Proficient User), the framework reflects a student’s abilities with a given language.  A model was implemented that saw students at the kinder level entering the A1/2 levels and ending high school with a B1/2 level, ready to take on the proficiency level thanks to the PEACE English Program.

The team formulated twelve detailed schedules for each year.  SEP’s school years are made up of five blocks that cover three semesters. To secure that all aspects of the English language are reached, each yearly schedule contained five sub headings: Theme, Grammar, Vocabulary, Conversation Strategy and Pronunciation.
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the curriculum team, PEACE English teachers are providing a definitive map that will lead to success, gifting students of the Punta de Mita area a huge advantage with their academic and vocational futures. Further, now with a robust standardized curriculum, PEACE’s standardized testing protocol will be more meaningfully tracked over time to quantify the progress being made.


   
The Curriculum Team: Clockwise: Warren Hair, Erika Gutiérrez, Karina Orozco and Miriam Marin.

BRING A TOY, GET A SMILE

ST. REGIS RESORT'S TOY PROJECT

Putting a smile on a child’s face this time of year is always special, and that’s exactly what the St.Regis’ BRING A TOY, GET A SMILE incentive did once more.

In Mexico, the 6th of January marks the Day of the Holy Kings. It celebrates the biblical moment when the three wise men came to meet baby Jesus bearing gifts. In remembrance of this, Mexican tradition sees the giving and receiving of gifts. Each year the St.Regis, along with the generous support from PJ Garcia and husband Andrew Marshall, bring toys with the intent to put smiles on children’s faces.

This year, PEACE and St. Regis jointly hosted a breakfast that celebrated this important tradition. PEACE and St. Regis staff, headed by Jim Hughes, General Manager, along with invited guests, joined students from the PEACE AVANZA Program. Delicious tostadas, fruit and juice, all provided by St. Regis, brought everyone together in the PEACE courtyard before cutting the Rosca de Reyes, a traditional circular Mexican pastry decorated to appear like crowns of the three kings. Hidden within la rosca are small plastic babies, representations of Jesus. Tradition states that whoever receives a slice containing a hidden baby needs to spoil everyone with tamales. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), one recipient happened to be St. Regis General Manager, James Hughes, who vowed to uphold tradition and return in February with tamales.

Moments later, speeches were made and also the giving of toys. Smiles from ear to ear were seen as each youngster received their gift and expressed their appreciation. The kids enjoyed their toys while giving thanks, and look forward to February’s traditional get together.

 
   
St.Regis Resort's GM, James Hughes, and  his team at PEACE for BRING A TOY, GET A SMILE.
 

PEACE & SEP RENEW AGREEMENT

Teaching English
 
The PEACE English Program continues to go from strength to strength. The 1200 plus students receiving daily English classes are advancing and exceeding all expectations.

PEACE broke new ground when it succeeded in securing a three year agreement with SEP (the Mexican Ministry of Education) until February 24th, 2018. The permission to conduct second language classes in public schools, unseen before within the Mexican public school system, was a national first and became a model for how public schools could be assisted positively.

This past month saw an extension to this landmark agreement. PEACE Director, Ceci Paredes, and Academic Supervisor, Ali Elias, following meetings with SEP senior representatives in Nayarit’s state capital, Tepic, finalized an agreement with an indefinite date.

This extension was no doubt due to the positive support from the directors of local schools within the Punta de Mita area. Such support from school principals and teachers has inspired PEACE to look to the future with increased commitment to realize its goal for all students to achieve a working knowledge of English. More about the English Program can be read here.


   
PEACE teacher, Lucia Machado, teaching English hands-on at Higuera Blanca kinder.

NEW PEACE LEARNING CENTER PLANNED

Dine Providing Land

To be located across the plaza from the existing PEACE Centro Comunitario, on land provided by Punta Mita’s master developer, Dine, the new PEACE Learning Center will have 5 classrooms for PEACE programs such as Campeones, English, Computers, and Skills. The new Learning Center will also be home-base for the 18 member PEACE teaching staff, including the 9 PEACE English teachers who branch out daily to teach at all 8 of the local schools [3 Kinders, 3 Secundarias, 2 Prepatorias] reaching approximately 1,200 students with 1 hour per day of English lessons. The existing PEACE Centro Comunitario, which is provided free-of-charge by the Ejido, will be retained by PEACE as a community center.
 
Although the new PEACE Learning Center is in the early planning stages, already 8 Punta Mita homeowners, have recently pledged over US$400,000 to cover the estimated costs for construction, furnishings, and fixtures. Once the no-cost land lease is finalised with Dine, building permits have been obtained, and contractors hired, it is expected that the building will take the better part of a year to complete.

VOLUNTEER SKYE ADDIKS


VOLUNTEER SKYE ADDICKS
One stand-out volunteer has devoted several hours of her time doing just that. California native, Skye Addicks, has returned to PEACE on numerous occasions, not only volunteering her time but also implementing initiatives such as her pen pal letters which she does with friends back home. We caught up with her to reflect on her experiences.

What inspired you to get involved volunteering with PEACE?
My family began vacationing in Punta de Mita several years ago and immediately fell in the love with the town and the surrounding area. We kept returning and the next thing we knew, my grandparents moved there permanently. Lucky for us, we come to visit often and feel it is a second home. A couple of years ago, I was thinking of what kind of service work I could do, and we looked for an organization in the area. PEACE came up on a Google search but we knew nothing about it. And then my mom was on a walk and saw the colorful sign right in the heart of town. So we visited and met Ali Elias and talked about different ways we could volunteer. It sounded like a great way to get involved with the community, meet new people, and help shape lives.

Having volunteered with PEACE on several occasions, what has been your involvement, and what have you gained from these experiences?
I have volunteered with PEACE on several occasions. Last year, I started an organization back home called S.M.ART. I gathered donations of art supplies and money from classmates at school and set up a GoFundMe site. With the money raised we brought art supplies to the children who are part of the PEACE program in Punta de Mita. We filled a huge suit case weighing 50 pounds. That spring, we joined Warren Hair teaching English in the schools and to the AVANZA students and the CAMPEONES. It was wonderful to be involved in the different programs of all different ages. Volunteering with PEACE has been eye opening and so rewarding. There are so many different programs to help with and I look forward to continuing to help in a variety of ways as the organization is so amazing at many different things.

Your pen pal initiative between your school friends in San Francisco and the CAMPEONES has been a great success, can you tell us more about it and how it’s going?
At the beginning of the school year, I started a club at my high school — Pen Pals with students in the CAMPEONES at PEACE. My club had 15-20 members and we had three letter exchanges over the course of four months. The members of my club wrote in English and requested responses in English to give the PEACE students a chance to learn English and develop a relationship with a student in an entirely different part of the world.

In the beginning I was not sure what to expect, but after working with PEACE on many occasions I have come to realize the importance of the English language in their education. This is something that I found I can easily offer and through my pen pal club. It has been really rewarding and a big hit at my high school. The members of my club have been so excited to be making connections with people in another country. We love receiving letters from the CAMPEONES. Over Christmas break, I brought two of the pen pals from my high school with me and we visited our Punta de Mita pen pals, the CAMPEONES. When we left, my friend said it was her favorite part of her vacation.


 
Skye Addicks with 3rd grade students at Punta de Mita Kinder.

4TH ANNUAL PEACE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Monday, March 27, St. Regis Resort

To be held at St. Regis Resort, on Monday, March 27, 2017 at 4PM, the 4th Annual PEACE General Assembly, the complete audited PEACE 2016 Financial Report along with PEACE’s 2017 Expense Budget will be presented. All donors, potential donors, and interested parties are invited to attend. Following the Assembly, with the benefit of having listened to its donor community, PEACE will then formulate its 2017 PLEDGE FOR PEACE plan for launch in April/May.

PEACE COMPLETES 4TH FISCAL YEAR

December 31, 2016, marked the close of PEACE’s 4th fiscal year. Financial highlights of actual 2016 operating results are summarized as follows:
  • Revenue [donations and interest earned] – 10.4 million pesos
  • Program Costs & Operating Expenses – 4.9 million pesos versus 5.6 budget
  • Patrimony [Reserves/Equity] – 12.8 million pesos
  • Annual audited results are posted on the PEACE website within 90 days of year-end, and will also be presented at the 4th Annual PEACE Assembly on March 27

2016 PLEDGE FOR PEACE Campaign 

Exceeds Objective
 

2016 marked the fourth consecutive year to exceed the fundraising objective via the PLEDGE FOR PEACE Campaign. Campaign highlights are summarized as follows:
  • Donations exceeded US$450,000
  • Total PLEDGE Donors: 66
  • New PLEDGE donors: 15
  • Repeat PLEDGE donors: 51
  • Percent Seasonal Homeowners: 100%
  • Number of Donors  =/>US$ 15,000: 6
  • Number of Donors =/> US$ 10,000: 16
  • Number of Donors =/> US$ 5,000: 23
  • Number of Donors < US$5,000: 21
  • Other Cash Donations in 2016 of US$28,000, in addition to the PLEDGE FOR PEACE Campaign were for tuition scholarships, furnishings/repairs, event fundraisers [Fun Runs, Flavors], etc
More about our campaigns and fundraisers can be read here.

PEACE 2017 BUDGET APPROVED

  • The PEACE 2017 budget has been approved by the Board with total expenses coming to MXN$6,776,100 allocated to the following segments:
  • Education - 81%
  • English Program - 46%
  • Campeones - 13%
  • Community Pride – 19%
  • Descubrete – 5%
The complete audited PEACE 2016 Financial Report along with PEACE’s 2017 Expense Budget will be presented at the PEACE 4th Annual General Assembly. Following the Assembly, with the benefit of having listened to its donor community, PEACE will then formulate its 2017 Pledge For PEACE plan for launch in April/May.

PEACE IN-KIND DONORS MAKE HUGE IMPACT

The invaluable contribution from In-Kind Donors within the Punta de Mita area continues to make a huge impact. With gratitude, PEACE wishes to recognize the major In-Kind Donors:
  • David Connell – 100% pro bono legal service since 2013, >200,000 pesos
  • Gaby Rojas – pro bono accounting and financial services >50,000 pesos
  • St. Regis Punta Mita Resort – Daily breakfasts for Avanza students, fundraising events, summer camp, guest sponsorships, student internships, meeting rooms, etc,
  • Four Seasons Punta Mita Resort – Descubrete meeting rooms, transportation, summer camp, corporate sponsorships, fundraising events, leadership conference, etc.
  • Peace USA. Under the governance of Valerie Ewell, treasurer; and Ken Dahl, president, PEACE USA operates a 501 (c)(3) to facilitate USA donations to charities such as PEACE Punta de Mita. Punta Mita HDM resident Valerie Ewell voluntarily operates the 501[c][3] absorbing all operating costs.

HIGUERA BLANCA PREPARATORIA

MARC LINDSKOG'S PROJECT

By Margaret Rempfer, Litibu seasonal homeowner
Operating out of temporary facilities, this is the high school's fourth year. It graduated its first class last July.   The new high school is an impressive project and there is momentum from the entire community to make it a reality. Due to Marc's encouraging the Higuera Blanca community to donate labor, services, etc., the lot is being excavated and prepared for the beginning of construction.  Over the past few weeks, there have been back hoes, dump trucks bringing in fill and packing machines to raise the foundation level to be above any possible flooding. It's taking shape!

The design includes three classrooms, an office, a store room, a garage, sleeping quarters for men and women teachers, an art room, a small auditorium and two sets of bathrooms.  Impressive. Here are photos of their ground-breaking in early February. 

I want to emphasize that this project would not have come together if it were not for Marc, who responded when asked by his young employee who lives in Higuera Blanca to help build a new high school Marc has also preserved a huge Higuera Blanca tree in the center court yard.

Editor’s Note: For banking and dispersing grants, Marc has arranged a Service Agreement with PEACE Punta de Mita. Already, PEACE USA has received donations for more than US$40,000 for Marc’s project.

  
Marc at the ground-breaking ceremony explaining the plans.

PEACE: Now on Facebook. Now on Instagram

Now you can stay current with events at PEACE on social media. Follow the movement and remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.

You will find updated info, photos and videos of our organization, current programs, daily activities, events & dates, and other important information.

PEACE English teacher, Warren Hair, is responsible for marketing which includes social media, producing PEACE newsletters, and maintaining the PEACE website.

Facebook
Website
Instagram

Please contact Ceci Paredes, Executive Director, for additional information:  

Office: 329-291-5157, cell phone: 322-135-0952, email: ceci@peacepuntademita.org

“PEACE Punta de Mita Newsletters are produced three times annually [November, February, and May]. Editor in chief: PEACE teacher Warren Hair. Published on a pro-bono basis by Livepuntamita.com

Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved.

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