Vinicio Gerardo Perez Chumil is a physical education teacher at Colegio Monseñor Gregorio Schaffer in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala. Vinicio studied at the school as a child, and today, he embodies the passionate and effective teaching the school is known for. Almost all of the students he serves receive financial assistance. The school serves 650 children from age four through sixth grade. This is one of the only schools in the country using a Montessori method for the early grades.

On this Give to the Max Day, Vinicio is telling us his story so that we can raise $6,000 for the school — the salary for one teacher in San Lucas. This school is one of the cornerstones of the San Lucas Mission because we believe education is the foundation for lasting social change. Read on to learn more about Vinicio, and why he believes in the power of the colegio.

My name is Vinicio Gerardo Perez Chumil. I have been teaching for eight years, four at this school. I live with my father and six siblings, including my sister Candelaria who also teaches here. In my free time, I like to stay up to date on the news and play all kinds of sports.”

When you were a student here, what was it like?

I started here in pre-school. It was a great experience. Some of us didn’t have the necessary resources to pay to go to school, but here they offered that assistance so we could get ahead in life. The way students were treated was excellent. It offered not only quality academic instruction but also spiritual formation.

Some of my most influential teachers are still here. A great example is Patricia [the current principal], who was my fourth-grade teacher. I have wonderful memories of her. She took the time to listen to each of us and offer advice. Similarly, Felipe [the current assistant principal] was my fifth-grade teacher, and he was a great person who gave us a good education.

Why teach?

I always loved physical education class. And I wanted to share my knowledge and skills with young people in my community, and to support the development of this school. I enjoy spending time with kids each day and feeling their energy and positivity. 

There are many things that make this school unique in the community, and even in the state. Students come from other communities to attend school here. It’s because of the way we teach. We regularly attend professional development and work to improve ourselves as educators. Another thing that makes us unique is that we offer critical financial assistance to students and families.

We educate the whole child. This year, we had an invention fair, where students use their imagination and create something unique. In fact, this year we participated at the state level. We’re also represented at the state level in athletics each year. We offer a rounded education and opportunity for all students.

Why physical education?

Physical education isn’t just playing soccer, or basketball, or baseball. I work to instill values of cooperation, respect for others, and sportsmanship. In some other schools, they don’t provide space for physical education. It’s extremely important for educating children. Children need recreation and movement.

What are you proud of?

There are some children who have disabilities. Some of them can’t run or jump. It’s important to offer an inclusive class so all students can participate. I’ve had the opportunity to work with the three children who have physical disabilities. I’ve taught differently-abled students how to kick and throw a ball. They develop control of their body. 

For example, I had a student this year named Mario. He couldn’t run well and would just sit the whole class. I told him, “We’re going to find a way that — little by little — you develop your motor skills, through different games and exercises and using what you already can do.” Then, on one of the last days of school, he said, “Teacher, I can play soccer now.” And I told him, “Great! Show me!” And he ran out there and played. He no longer had the fear of running and using his body. He had developed confidence in himself. Some of my differently abled students have made great progress, and I’m very proud of that. 

Physical education is essential for children, for the development of the student. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done here. I’m happy to be here. It’s like a family. We care for each other and we grow together. This is a very special school.

Why donate?

I‘m thankful to the people in the US who support us. I hope they continue to support us whenever possible. It’s a huge help. If it weren’t for them, the children wouldn’t be able to follow their dreams. Some want to be teachers, some doctors, some firefighters, some police. The support offered by the donors is extremely important so that the different programs here can continue to operate. That way, the city can continue to develop by educating and enriching our young people.

I want to say thank you for the work you do and the help you offer us. I pray that God multiplies your work and blesses your family. With your help, you are teaching your children to help others. If it’s possible to continue supporting us, thank you. Your help is extremely important for providing quality education here in San Lucas.

Each year the Mission in San Lucas impacts the lives of over 25,000 people. Each dollar donated makes a difference in the life of someone like Vinicio and all the students he serves. To support teachers like Vinicio and their students, please make your gift today. Thank you for your generosity.