Jackson is leaving Nov. 11 for a two-week trip to Jordan, where she’ll visit two Syrian refugee camps — in Azraq and Zaatari. Tens of thousands of refugees live at the camps, and Jackson will focus her time on teaching phonetic instruction to students in elementary through eighth grades.
“We’re going to plant some seeds and see what we can do,” Jackson said. “These people are living in tent cities, and there’s a daunting nature to it all. But to be able to at least lend help and shed light that we can get more help there, that’s what’s important to me.”
Jackson’s daughter, Lauren, has been at the camps since August as part of a fellowship with American University, where’s she’s working on a master’s degree. Lauren Jackson, who is studying Arabic, also is part of Relief International’s mission to provide educational access to refugees.
“Relief International focuses on remedial education,” said Garret Jackson, who noted her daughter asked her to visit the camps and provide assistance. “My daughter is studying risk factors of what could happen if the refugees don’t receive educational access, and she’s found that the risks overall are much greater if they don’t.”
Lauren Jackson said that her role as a volunteer with RI’s education team is “to provide support to English teachers and work to strengthen current approaches to remedial English instruction in RI’s centers.
“I’ve been conducting classroom observations in both Zaatari and Azraq to map the needs of English teachers and students,” Lauren Jackson wrote in an email. “Teachers have exhibited passion and dedication to both their students’ learning and their own growth as educators and English speakers. As non-native speakers, Syrian English teachers face a number of challenges, but reading instruction and pronunciation is perhaps at the top of the list.”
“With a background in teaching English to secondary students, I have worked with struggling readers and many English language learners; however, the systematic instruction of phonetic patterns and de-coding strategies is outside of my scope of experience. From observing lessons and discussing classroom challenges with teachers, I quickly determined the need for more specialized training.”
Janice Kohler, Director of Professional Development and Instruction at the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education, the organization that provided Jackson training, says IMSE’s flexible approach to the OG methodology will help her make an impact in a challenging situation. “We understand that teachers all over the world work within an incredibly vast range of realities. We arm teachers with powerful teaching tools, but the approach is flexible enough to integrate into different educational environments. And, because we know OG can make a huge difference for those learning English, we’re really excited about the impact Jackson can make in Syria.”
Jackson said the teachers at the camps all know English, but none have basic understanding of phonetic instruction. Many of the teachers, she said, are refugees themselves.
“I know that if I can bring some sort of training, it will be more than they’ve got now,” Garret Jackson said. “I’m thrilled to be going there.”
For more information on Relief International’s efforts, visit https://www.ri.org/programs/education-syrian-refugees
Learn more about IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham Training, see the current training schedule and learn how to bring the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education to your district or school.