Our organization had its beginnings in 1974 when a group of chief
school administrators in Bucks County, Pennsylvania began working
with the Office of Overseas Schools of the U.S. Department of
State and the International Schools Services in Princeton, New
Jersey. Its purpose was to provide consultants and services for
schools, colleges and universities abroad.
Our founding fathers were men of great vision. They designed
an organization with a strong mission statement that has guided
us as we continue to enhance and extend their original concept.
Promoting the appreciation and understanding of diverse cultures
by supporting the educational community in Guatemala is still
paramount as we continue their mission. This mission is recognized
by the United States and Guatemalan Governments.
Since the inception of the visiting professor program in 1977
that included about ten Bucks Fellows, as they were later called,
the program continues to grow. The one hundred eighty professional
staff members that now come under the umbrella of Bucks Fellows
are comprised of elementary and secondary teachers, school administrators,
physicians, health educators, scientists, librarians, and directors
of public relations. These Bucks Fellows are placed in all the
schools we serve.
With the design of the Literacy Program in 2004, we began conducting
workshops for teachers and administrators in the highlands and
the south coast. These workshops are still presented annually
to offer the best practices in the field of reading, writing,
and thinking. During 2004 and 2005, Board Members arranged to
have a dozen Guatemalan teachers visit Pennsylvania. During that
time, they were able to observe the education system in the public
schools and attend a state Reading Conference at Bloomsburg University.
As another part of the Literacy Program, a Distribution Day designed
for giving books and school supplies to children in public schools
helps support our mission. Since the beginning of the program,
over sixty thousand pieces of children’s literature have
been placed in the hands of children for personal ownership. Seven
hundred bags are filled each year with books and supplies. Tubs
filled with supplies to enhance the teaching-learning process
are given to the teachers at the same time. In 2015, the Board
added a preschool with an enrollment of over six hundred students
to the Distribution Day.
The Scholarship Program donates six thousand dollars annually
to indigenous women enrolled for a teaching degree at the university
level. These funds are distributed on as need basis.
The eleven member Board of Directors work year round to make
a difference in the lives of the children and teachers in the
public schools in Guatemala. We have continued the vision of our
founding fathers and have cemented our relationships with the
administrators in all the schools we serve. We truly believe that
our efforts have continued—and will continue—to make
a positive difference in the educational climate.
Vera A. Derk, President, BCOIA
Education in Guatemala