Paul St. John Frisoli

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VOLUNTEER INFO


Volunteer:

Paul St. John Frisoli

Country:

Guinea (2002 - 2004)

Primary-Site:

Timbo

Sector/Work:

Middle School Math Teacher

DESCRIPTION OF PEACE CORPS SERVICE

Paul St. John Frisoli Republic of Guinea, West Africa June 2002- September 2004

TRAINING: After a competitive application process stressing applicant skills, adaptability, and cross-cultural understanding, Paul St. John Frisoli was invited to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching math in the Republic of Guinea, West Africa. Paul entered Peace Corps training in June 2002 at the training center in Dubréka, where he successfully completed an intensive 12-week training program, which included the following components: technical, language, cross-cultural adaptation, and health.

Technical training (150 hours) focuses on math teaching methodology, lesson planning, and classroom management, with emphasis on adaptation of these methods to teaching in francophone West Africa. Paul’s language training (240 hours) comprised of intensive, small-group study of Pulaar, the language spoken in the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea, as well as mathematical French, to compliment Paul’s already advanced French ability. Cross-cultural training (40 hours) exposes trainees to communal life in West Africa. Guinean social and religious institutions are observed and traditions, history, and the governmental structure of the Republic of Guinea are discussed. Health training (20 hours) concentrates on health issues relevant to Peace Corps Volunteers’ service in Guinea, including the prevention and diagnosis of common ailments.

VOLUNTEER SERVICE: Upon completion of the training in Dubréka, Paul St. John Frisoli was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer on September 12, 2002. He was assigned to teach at a secondary school in the Timbo, a village of 2,000 habitants located in the Mamou region of the Fouta Djallon. At the close of his two-year contract, he applied and was accepted to extend his service in the capital of Conakry in order to continue work in national curriculum development and teacher training. Throughout his entire service, Paul used his language skills in French, Pulaar and Susu(locally acquired) to become an integrated, functioning member of his communities. A description of his specific professional accomplishments for the duration of his service follows.

June 2002 – June 2004 Middle School Education Paul served two academic years as a full-time teacher of Mathematics at Collège de Kouroulah, Timbo’s only secondary school, with an enrollment of 250 students and a teaching staff of 8. Class sizes were between 30 and 110 students. For both years of his service, Paul was responsible for teaching mathematics to 9th and 10th grade students. He also taught geography to 8th grade students during his second year.

While planning his math lessons, Paul worked to supplement the Guinean curriculum to make it more accessible and applicable to his students’ lives in the village. In addition to classroom teaching, which included writing and proctoring exams, he held regular review sessions, which met at least twice a week, to prepare his 10th grade students for the national exam. As a result 100% of his 10th graders passed this exam both years. Paul also held individual tutoring sessions 5 times a week to interested students.

Due to a lack of pedagogical materials, Paul researched and acquired external documents to create accurate lesson plans to teach 105 students American and Asian Geography. With the limited resources in his village, he was able to design and produce maps, games and interactive elements for his classes.

During his 2 years, Paul was elected as homeroom teacher for his 10th graders. These responsibilities included: conflict resolution, counseling, logistics and grade computations. He also used sensitizing techniques stressing student responsibility and mutual respect that resulted in a significant reduction of absence, lateness, and cheating from these 10th graders.

HIV/AIDS Initiatives Wrote proposal, obtained funding, designed and performed “Numbers in the news”, a 5-day long conference of 35 students which linked awareness, protection and risks of HIV/AIDS with mathematical concepts. He developed the curriculum for this conference according to the needs and misconceptions of the youth community. At the conference’s culmination, he trained and maintained an HIV/AIDS peer educator group to continue the sensitization of the middle school community. This group then held five 2-hour long school wide sensitizations.

At the end of the school year, Paul also wrote and attained funding from a national NGO to sponsor another group of peer educators to continue the work on HIV/AIDS training in Timbo. Subsequently, he trained and evaluated this group’s efficacy.

Gender Equity Awareness: In 2003 and 2004 Paul acted as MC and session creator/facilitator at Peace Corps Guinea’s 6th and 7th Annual GAAD Girls’ Conferences in the Fouta Djallon, a four-day forum where girls from different villages are invited to participate in activities and discussions on topics such as reproductive health, STDs/AIDS, girls’ education, study skills and family planning. For each of the 6th and 7th Annual Girls’ Conferences, Paul was involved in participant selection, as well as in the supervision of his chosen participants as they organized post-conference activities back in their villages. During his second year Paul served as the Fouta Djallon’s Regional GAAD Representative, in which capacity he co-coordinated content, logistics and facilitated volunteer participation for 7th Annual GAAD Girls’ Conference.

For the duration of his service, Paul acted as co-editor of the Peace Corps girl’s magazine, Aïcha. These responsibilities included motivating students to write for the magazine, selection of articles, revision, editing and distribution.

Training Events: Paul served as a Volunteer Trainer in the Math Technical and Cultural Adaptation components of PC training for incoming volunteers during the summer of 2003. His responsibilities included reviewing, developing, and facilitating Math Education sessions, acting as a mentor/trainer to 13 trainees, helping to organize a 3-week session of summer classes for local students taught by trainees, giving trainees evaluation and feedback on teaching sessions, serving as a resource for language training, contributing to cross-cultural sessions, and providing trainee support. In the January 2004, Paul also served as a trainer for the PC in-service training. He worked to reinforce the technical capacities and to mentor the same 13 volunteers.

Paul actively participated as a member of the Diversity Committee, which facilitated sessions to PCVs and PC staff on American and Guinean diversity. He also served as committee secretary in which he re-organized committee archives, collected resources for training and documented all activities.

Other Secondary Projects Paul rewrote, developed and computer formatted “Math for Dumbies”, a teacher reference workbook that clarifies difficult mathematic concepts, suggest useful teaching methodology and revamped a thorough exercise bank. He was responsible for the workbook’s distribution.

He accepted an invitation to be a Youth Group Advisor for ANGT (Amicale pour la Nouvelle Generation de Timbo) where he collaborated with 35 youth to plan, raise funding and execute the smooth functioning a community garden project to help lower the price of daily vegetables.

August – September 2004 Upon completion of his original two-year contract with Peace Corps, Paul successfully extended his service as Technical Assistant at the Guinean National Institute of Research and Pedagogical Initiatives in collaboration with the American NGO, Educational Development Center(EDC). The goal of this project is to improve quality of teaching and equity within the Guinean elementary education system. This is done through creation of pedagogical documents, implementation of school personnel trainings and the broadcast of daily Interactive Educational Radio. Paul’s responsibilities during his time with EDC included:

Training Team Consultant Paul collaborated with a team of 8 teacher trainers to brainstorm, develop and edit 4 training guides and manuals. These guides demonstrate how school principals and superintendents can lead self-sustainable trainings for their teachers to enhance pedagogical techniques as well as how to teach challenging curricula when material is limited. Paul took the initiative to develop creative activities in multiple cases in order to accommodate different types of learning. He participated in the training of national trainers from all the 10 regions of Guinea. He oversaw and participated in the distribution of these manuals throughout the country as well as accepting to go into the field to observe and evaluate the efficacy of these trainings.

Media Consultant Paul also took on the responsibility of audio-visual coordinator for EDC through inventorying and up keeping their technical equipment. Because of his competence at documentary filmmaking, EDC invited Paul to begin the research and footage process of a film documenting the their impact on elementary education. He carried out site prospecting through his many contacts in Guinea. He outlined the project as well as captured preliminary footage.

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