A Space of Grace and a Place to BelongOthers, Community , Education
Contributed by: EduDeo Ministries
Espacio de Gracia School in the Dominican Republic is making this a reality. They are a school that offers specialized programs and resources for students with learning disabilities and behavioural challenges. Espacio de Gracia is often a last resort for children who have been turned away from other schools because of their exceptional needs.
Yet, Espacio de Gracia is anything but a last resort. It stands out as a place for students to belong and feel welcomed for who they are. It is a space of grace, which is how the school’s name translates. At Espacio de Gracia, students are taught that no matter the challenges they face, they all have a role to play in God’s kingdom.
Because of this, the school was often filled to the brim with students. For years, they had very little space for their ever-increasing enrollment numbers – and they could only serve about 70 students.
Then, everything changed. With the support and investment of the local community, along with committed EduDeo supporters, five new classrooms, one computer lab, one office, and two bathrooms were constructed.
The new space meant more students could attend the school – over 160 students this time – and the school could even offer higher grades. They had previously only offered schooling up to grade 5 because of their limited space – but no more. The new classrooms were a turning point for the school, a beginning of even greater impact on their students and community.
Just like schools across the Dominican Republic and around the world, 2020-2021 was another difficult school year for Espacio de Gracia. They wrestled with school closures and remote, virtual teaching. But they never gave up on their students. Their enrollment had increased because of the new classrooms, and they were as dedicated as they ever had been to not leave any student behind.
One first grade teacher, Gina, covered the walls of her classroom with colourful pictures and drawings, so that even when she had to teach virtually, she could capture students’ attention. “I thank God that I have the opportunity to participate in the formation of these children, even though we have to do it remotely. It is not easy to keep first graders’ attention remotely, but the way I decorate the wall of my classroom has been very helpful as I facilitate their learning. I am very happy that my school was able to install internet services and provide me with a device through which I record the class to send to students who cannot connect at the time of transmission.”
Where are they now? In January, 2021, Espacio de Gracia held a dedication service for the new space in anticipation of schools reopening later in the year. Students, teachers, leaders, families, and community members all came together to celebrate the beautiful work that had been done, and the beautiful future that lies ahead for the school.
Students are now back in their classrooms this Fall, learning in ways best suited to their needs and in ways that show them they are deeply cared for. They’re back at school and back in their places of belonging – their spaces of grace.