While I was home, I had the opportunity to share our ministry of Las Palmas with my home church family. After having conversations with several people, I decided I should write a post to answer some of the questions people had. Many of us build our own assumptions based on what we see or think, but we don’t really know or ask questions. I’m glad my church family asked me questions, because now I can help them (and you!) have a better understanding of our ministry here at Colegio Las Palmas.
- Does the school receive a lot of American financial support?
Almost all of our American teachers receive some financial support from friends and churches in the states. The school itself, however, receives almost nothing. The school functions based on the revenue and budget from tuition, tutoring, and a couple other small on-site activities.
2. Is the school just for rich kids?
After seeing pictures of the kids in class, all proper in their uniforms, some of my American friends assumed their families have money. Let me tell you something spectacular about my Dominican people… they are the cleanest people you will EVER meet! They amaze me. It doesn’t matter if they live in a mansion or a wooden house with a tin roof and dirt floor—when you meet them, you would never know it. Everyone is clean and smells good and looks good, and makes sure their white pants look brand new. I don’t know how they do it! So you might see someone who is beautiful, pristine, and sharply dressed, and that’s because they are very proud of who they are and want to look good! Don’t we all?! Seriously, I need to learn from them. I’m a slob!
So who does go to Las Palmas? Well, it’s pretty cool really. We have children of lawyers and judges and doctors. But we also have children of everyday, hard working moms and dads, who sacrifice to put their kids in our school. We have many students who are in our school through partial and complete scholarships because the families simply cannot afford the education. We also have boys and girls who live in children’s homes who attend our school. Then we have some American missionary kids, too! It’s a mixture of all kinds of families, and I love it!
So, no, we aren’t just a school for rich kids. If they look rich, it’s that beautiful Dominican pride that is showing through.
3. Do the kids go to school for free?
Based on what I’ve already written, you probably understand now that the families do pay to attend the school. It would be wonderful if we could offer free education, but reality says things cost money. Our financial director is an intelligent, Christ-loving business woman who does all she can to cut costs where possible so that our school tuition can remain affordable for the families here. We have had to raise tuition as the school grows, but we’ve also partnered with the families to help find scholarships so those who couldn’t afford the increase would be able to continue at our school.
4. Do the American teachers get paid or do they just have support?
The American teachers do receive pay from the school. However, the cost of traveling, living, visas, school supplies, etc., wouldn’t allow for most of us to live here solely on what the school pays us. Therefore, we do raise money from the states. Personally, I am able to pay my basic bills here from what the school pays me (Rent, local travel, internet, electricity), and then I use support for savings, food, U.S. travel, school supplies, personal needs, and more.