Island visit feels like coming home

Saturday 1 September 2018 | Written by Jaimie Keay | Published in Hot on the Rock


Island visit feels like coming home
Leana McClain is here to help grow literacy levels here in the Cook Islands. 18083127

“A feeling of home”, is how visiting literacy expert Leana McClain has described her return to Rarotonga fortnight ago.

McClain, a former literacy professor at the Indiana University who first came to Rarotonga in 2013, is back in the Cook Islands to offer assistance to the Ministry of Education - both staff and school students.

Thanks to funding from the Delta Kappa Gamma Educational Foundation grant in the US, McClain was able to return to Rarotonga, five years after her first visit.

“When I first came here back in 2013, a lot of my friends and colleagues had no idea where the Cook Islands are. You show them on a map and it is a very small dot out in the Pacific Ocean.

“I decided a while back that if I could somehow combine my love of service with my love of international travel, then I would be sorted. Delta Kappa Gamma was one of the grants I received when I first travelled here and I am very grateful to have their support once again.

“The Cook Islands was where I chose. I am a lover of warm weather and beaches and the beautiful scenery definitely drew me in.”

During her six-week stay McClain will run a variety of workshops and seminars for teachers on the island as well as getting into classrooms to teach local students.

This week she has been helping the Tereora College English department, with a special Year 9 class taking a different spin on the classic tale of the Three Little Pigs.

“This time I really want to use children’s fiction as a way of teaching across other subjects.

“For the Year 9 students at Tereora, I gave them the book by Jon Scieszka, ‘The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs’, which is from the wolf’s perspective. We decided would put the wolf on trial for his crimes.

“The objective of doing this was all about persuasive writing and I was so impressed with how the students went about it. Some of the creative ideas that came out of it were just fantastic.”

McClain said one of the highlights of her trip so far has been when Konini Rongo of Tereora College told her she remembered McClain visiting class during her 2013 visit.

“It was wonderful to see a student who remembered some of the tricks and teachings I did with students last time.

“That is one of the great things about what I do and why I love coming here to the Cook Islands, is the connection with the people, I really do feel like a local and part of the extended Cook Islands family.”

As part of next week’s Literacy Week, McClain will run a workshop on Tuesday at Sinai Hall for teachers, as well as spending time in the classroom with students from Apii Nikao.