Prior to moving to Nepal, our Early Childhood Development Fellow, Mallory was a pediatric occupational therapist working for children with learning disabilities in an elementary school in NYC. In the weeks leading up to her arrival, the other fellows called her Mallory Ot, thinking that Ot was her last name. It wasn't until a day before she got here that I realized her last name was Grundstein and OT stood for occupational therapist. But Mallory OT stuck for good.
We've been so fortunate to have her here with us for the past 6 months and will miss her tremendously now that her time has come to an end. I can't even begin to express how valuable having her expertise around here has been and the ability to constantly bounce ideas off of a trained expert. She was kind of a genius when it came to figuring out what issues were holding our kids back and finding really practical ways to work with them to become better learners. Mallory described her job as solving a mystery or cracking a code with her students and she is incredibly gifted at this. She worked hard in the classroom along side our teachers, conducted trainings, and gave special attention and focus to our students who needed extra attention, one on one, and in smaller groups in the resource center. She also put in endless hours sorting through administrative work, (my least favorite job in the universe) filing systems, and scheduling at our school. Mallory implemented a "Sounds in Motion" curriculum with our nursery, kindergarten, and first grade students that has worked incredibly well for us.
In her own words...
One big difference between Nepal and the USA is the education system. In Nepal, they teach using a rote memorization method. When learning how to spell, the children will memorize C-A-T = "cat". Although the children can very easily spell words they were taught, they lack the phonics skills to sound out new and unfamiliar words. After meeting with fellows Kelly and Nena, we decided to introduce a phonics program utilizing whole body movements and phonics games. The program teaches individual movements associated with each sound and sound combinations. The kids first learn how to identify the sound associated with each letter and then begin to string sounds together to read novel and difficult words. We've been able to implement this program in nursery, kindergarten, first and second grade with an added focus on training the teachers to continue phonics every year with all the Kopila kids. I am thrilled with the progress these students and teachers have made! Every day they come running up to me acting out the new sounds they've learned and are so excited to participate in the class. I am so amazed by these kids' thirst for knowledge and education.
Mallory has been such a gift; hardworking, incredible with kids, quick to laugh, and compassionate. We scored big time having her by our side. Mallory, on behalf of all of us, I would like to thank you for being a part of our family this year and giving it your all here. Things would not have been the same without you. You've left your mark on these kids forever. We love you and can't wait for your next visit!