Building in the chaos
The last few months have been the most interesting, and challenging months of our 22 year existence. We’ve had to update our road maps, learn to be flexible, pivot quickly, and make hard decisions, while we continue building for the future. Here’s a few projects we’ve been working on.
We moved our school online
Colegio Mesoamericano went online within 3 days of the COVID-19 lockdown here. We did this in record time thanks to the diligence of our dedicated teachers, admin, and staff. Using Google Classroom and other platforms we launched an online curriculum at par with the top schools in the country.
We had to make some staff changes
We have been calling parents and surveying their satisfaction with the service delivered and have found that they have been not only pleased with our efforts but impressed as they have seen the comparison of the response of other schools. The satisfaction of paying parents has kept us currently at a 70% paid tuition rate. However, because we already were in the red, a 30% decline in revenue demanded hard decisions. Unfortunately, we had to suspend 15 teachers, and staff in order to survive.
We are Meso
To stay connected to our students and parents, we launched the “We are Meso” Facebook group, which is only open to teachers, parents, and students. It is a safe place for students to play and show creativity. It is participation by homemade videos only, as a way to push everyone to be vulnerable and show up!
With the example of our teachers, we first invited our students to participate in a Curiosity Challenge — designed to facilitate curiosity about the world around them, keep students engaged, and connected to their fellow peers. We have since launched a weekly EQ Challenge, that allows us to use simple EQ tools, and activities to teach and help us all improve mental health and emotional well being.
We have been working on Indigo, our emotional intelligence program, which will eventually be the platform on which we will build all of our educational programs. Before COVID-19 hit, we conducted 16 teacher training sessions, and we are in the process of developing a toolbox for all our teachers to use in the classroom. We are making some adjustments while the lockdown lasts, but the project is already having a positive impact in our teachers’ state of mind.
Updated our website
It’s taken us some time, but our website Meso Foundation is finally at a stage we’re proud of, and we are now ready to ramp up our fundraising efforts. We were able to launch Project Jeronimo, our first campaign to fundraise for COVID-19 masks. We raised enough to donate 2,000 masks to high risk rural communities mostly in Chimaltenango, San Martin, and Patzicía.
We are currently transitioning that campaign into a food drive as the urgent needs have shifted here on the ground. We are also working on a sponsor-a-teacher campaign, in an effort to prevent further suspension of teachers who are our most valuable assets.
Reconnected to our past
In order to find the best way forward, we need to understand our past, and appreciate our roots. We created two Facebook groups, one for our Meso Alumni, and another Meso Supporters. Both groups are gathering places to connect our alumni, our current donors, and past volunteers to our foundation’s mission and efforts. We want to create a place where they can share their ideas, where we can ask questions, have discussions, and focus on what we can do to make Guatemala better!