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Figuring out phonics, finding new friends

Thursday, May 1, 2014

This week Reading, It’s Life shares the words of one of Alta’s volunteers, Kim Belmonte. Perfectly timed for the literary season of the Bocas Lit Fest and just as Alta commences it’s annual Tutor Training Course for all new volunteers, Kim describes her first year journey in poetry. 


The other day, I was talking to Paula about my experience with Alta this year,


And I was then asked to put pen to paper, so with all of you, I could share.


Here are my thoughts about the Alta programme,


I am learning so much as one of the teachers, really I am. 


I think it’s an absolutely brilliant programme, yes, brilliant I say.


Whether you join to teach or to learn, it’s really a wonderful way. 


After I signed up, I was asked to observe a class.


During most of my training, I can say I was having a blast.


In my training I learnt about the pure sound for every alphabet letter.


It takes practice they say, and practice makes it better.


When I trained, I met some great teachers in Arima, 


So many of them, I’ll just mention two—Carla and Lystra.


Our teachers in the training taught as a team, a method we are to follow,


Team teaching works so well in the Alta classroom, since there is so much to swallow,


It’s really tough for students to absorb everything, all the time,


So we repeat, review and play games; it often feels like a lime.


The volunteers who trained with me; oh we got along so well


The group exercises, that formed part of the session, made it easy to gel,


Some from my group were Sheila, Kamille, Jill and Cheryl-Ann,


We worked well together and gave each other a helping hand.


I teach now with a great team of ladies—Janet, Leslie, Merlyn, Rhona, Jeanette and Claire. 


They have years of experience, I am the new kid-on-the-block there.


I say they are great, because they show the students real compassion and love.


I know there is a message for me in all of this, from My Lord and Saviour up above. 


I believe that the Good Lord often opens new doors and even windows for us 


Our part is to be faithful and obedient and never ever proud or pompous.


He has brought me to a space and a place where I am able to see,


That life can be hard but you have to just press on and be the best that you can be.


My students are great, some hard-working and some shy, 


But they all have one goal and if they persevere, they would do more than just get by.


One lesson in the book explores the meaning of success and what makes us proud, 


Tears came to my eyes when one student said, ‘For me that was the day when I could read out loud.’


Alta is a safe place for students to learn what they missed out in their younger days,


Each teacher has their own style, so we teach the same thing in different ways.


In class, the students get to work together and there is a lot of interaction, 


The lessons are all interesting and most times we have a lot of fun. 


Every student I’ve met has their own special talent to share, 


If you need to come to Alta to learn you have nothing to fear.


Alta is for adults who need to learn to read and write. 


If you are just starting you will learn to identify words by sight, 


From the start of the year, we encourage the students to get to know each other. 


Some have become good friends, very close like a brother or a mother


I have seen the students grow in their confidence and learning 


Especially when they figure out the phonics and their minds are just yearning 


For those of you who do not know Paula who I mentioned at the start 


She is the one who started the Alta programme and made teaching it like an art.


Paula Lucie Smith, you really deserve to be saluted—you and every volunteer


So let’s hear it for all those who are part of Alta and give a really big heartfelt cheer!


Hip hip hip hooray … hip hip hip hooray— I’m sure once there is the need, Alta is here to stay!



Become a part of Alta. Volunteer, donate, spread the word. Alta volunteers are unpaid. Call 624-ALTA (2582) or e-mail [email protected] or find us on Facebook: Alta Trinidad. 


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