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Belize Student Teaching Program

Student teach in Belize: Fall 2006 or Spring 2007

For more information, or to express your interest, contact:

classroom scene at TCC
(To see more photos go to Photo Page)

The purpose of this web site is to provide students with an overview of UMD's Belize Student Teaching Program. You can read through the whole page by scrolling down or you can click on one of the links below to take you directly to the section that is of interest to you.

  1. Description of the program
  2. Who is eligible
  3. How to apply
  4. Registration for Belize Student Teaching Program
  5. Preparation for student teaching in Belize
  6. Accommodation
  7. Cost
  8. What to bring
  9. Getting there and getting around once there
  10. Information about Toledo Community College (TCC)
  11. Useful web links on Belize
  12. Photographs of TCC & Punta Gorda

Read what students have to say...

Stories from the Spring 2001 Belize student teachers.

Description of the Belize Student Teaching Program

  • Purpose/goals: To provide an international experience for prospective teachers through which they will come to understand the impact of culture and colonization on education of diverse races
  • Length of student teaching experience: You will student teach for the same length of time as other UMD student teachers (a total of 16 weeks). You have the option to have half of your student teaching experience in Duluth, while the other half of your experience will be in Belize. However, because the Belize Student Teaching Program requires a week-long orientation period, you will need to be in Belize for a a total of 9 weeks (one week of orientation, and then 8 weeks of student teaching). This orientation consists of and overview of the program, the school, and to the culture and customs of the people of Belize.
  • Host school: You will student teach in the Toledo Community College (TCC) which is the public high school in Punta Gorda, a small town located on the southern coast of Belize in the Toledo District, or several primary schools in the same community.
  • Your role as a student teacher: Your role as a student teacher: Whereas your cooperating teacher will
    have had more experience that you in the classroom, you will most likely have had more coursework to prepare you for teaching, and you may have more ideas about methods to use. The administration of TCC appreciates your preparation and hopes that sharing of that preparation will occur. As you gain experience in the classroom, you will lend your expertise with
  • Cooperating teacher: You will work with an experienced teacher in your grade and/or subject area. This teacher will work closely with you throughout your program, at first by having you observe and assist in his/her class, and giving you some guidance in preparing the units and lessons that you will be teaching. Once you start teaching your cooperating teacher's role is to provide you with feedback on your teaching and guide you in reflecting on ways in which you can improve.
  • Supervision: From Belize Teacher's College who lives in Punta Gorda. Your supervisor will participate in your initial orientation during your first week in Punta Gorda. Thereafter she will observe you teaching every other week as well as conduct bi-weekly seminars with all of the UMD student teachers in the Belize Student Teaching program.
  • UMD support: A UMD professor will accompany you to Belize at the start of your program to provide support and assistance during your first week. S/he will also remain in e-mail contact with you throughout student teaching,

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Who is eligible for the Belize Student Teaching Program?

UMD Education students who meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be eligible for student teaching at UMD (ie: meet all the standard criteria for student teaching at UMD) in one of the following licensure areas: Elementary education, Secondary English, Spanish, Social Studies, Math, Science, Physical Education.
  • Receive high recommendation from advisor, special methods and general methods instructors
  • Submit completed Belize Student Teaching application form (date to be announced).
  • Have application approved by Toledo Community College in Punta Gorda (the school where you will be student teaching)
  • Be independent, self-motivated, willing to take risks
  • Be open to new experiences and new cultures

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How to apply

  1. Schedule an meeting with Jim Sersha (call 726-7483 or e-mail
  2. Pick up the Belize Student Teaching application form from Jim at the time of your meeting.
  3. Turn in the completed application form and provide all accompanying materials to Jim by the date specified on the application. (It is normaly the fourth Friday of the semester, for the following semester).

Registration for Belize Student Teaching Program

You should register for the Belize Student Teaching Program in the same way as other UMD student teachers. Once your application for student teaching is approved and once you have met all prerequisites for student teaching, you will be given an override. Note: If you are taking required education courses in the Spring, you will not receive your override until the end of the Spring semester, when you have successfully completed these courses.

Preparation for student teaching in Belize

  • Curriculum planning: UMD will have copies of some but not all of the textbooks that you will use during your student teaching experience. You will be expected to read these carefully the semester prior to beginning your student teaching. If appropriate and possible you may be in touch through e-mail with your cooperating teacher during this time so that the two of you can begin planning what you will be teaching.
  • Learn about the country, politics, and cultures of the different groups within Belize: The accompanying web page called Useful Belize Links provides a variety of web sites on Belize. You should spend some time reviewing these to learn about the country, its people, and the different cultures. You may also want to do library research to find other information on Belize. This background preparation will be very important in helping you to understand your students, so you can develop teaching methods and content geared towards them.


During the nine weeks of your Belize student teaching experience, you will stay with a host family in or near the town of Punta Gorda. This accommodation will be arranged for you by UMD's Belize Student Teaching Program Coordinator in Punta Gorda. All host families are carefully screened by the Belize program coordinator. You may not arrange your own accommodation. We consider your immersion experience in living with a Belizean family to be an integral part of the program. In return for the board and lodge fee paid to your host family, they will provide you with your own furnished room, bedding and breakfast. It may be possible for you to arrange to have evening meals with the family for an extra fee, or for you to make use of their kitchen facilities. It is up to you, however, to make these arrangements with your host family, upon your arrival.


  • Belize Student Teaching Program administration fee (covers extra costs incurred by the program beyond local student teaching costs): $300.
  • Student teaching: Register for the same number of student teaching credits as you would if you were student teaching in Duluth.
  • Passport: Approximately $80 (On Tropic Air or Maya Air)
  • Air fare to Belize: varies. Expected range $500 - $1000 (this will vary depending on which airline you use and how early you make your reservation).
  • Air fare round trip from Belize City to Punta Gorda: Approximately $180
  • Visa renewal: $10.
  • Accommodation (board and lodging): The exact cost of this is determined annually, but you can expect it to be no more than you would be paying in the U.S. (it should be less).
  • Spending money: You will probably need less spending money than you would in the U.S., unless you plan to travel on weekends.

What to bring and what NOT to bring

What you should bring:

  1. Teaching materials. Because of the shortage of current resources in the TCC school library, you may want to supplement the course materials with resources of your own. However, you are not expected to do this. It is important to note that although the school does have a photocopier, you probably will not be able to photocopy handouts to give to students.
  2. Teaching clothes: You will be expected to adhere to the same standards of professional dress as all TCC teachers. For men this means long trousers, closed shoes (not sneakers), and a shirt with a collar (because of the climate you will probably want this to be short sleeved!). Women should wear either a skirt and blouse, a dress, a more "dressy" pants suit, or dressy pants and blouse. Women may wear sandals if they are not too casual. What you should NOT wear: jeans, sneakers, t-shirts, shorts, or thin strap (or strapless!) shirts. Although you will see some women wearing sleeveless blouses, it is better to wear blouses/shirts with sleeves.
  3. Casual clothes: Shorts, t-shirts, sandals, cool dresses/skirts, bathing suit, hat, rain-jacket, light sweater/jacket (you will very rarely need this!).
  4. Traveler's checks ($US dollars). The cost of living is very low in Belize, so you will not need a lot of money. As indicated under the section on cost, you will probably need less spending money than you would in the U.S., unless you plan to travel on weekends.
  5. Insect repellent, anti-malaria pills and, if you wish, a mosquito net that you can suspend above your bed.
  6. Camera, with film or digital storage card.
  7. If you are interested in bird watching, bring binoculars.
  8. Toiletries: You can purchase most of these easily in stores in PG, but should take at least initial supplies with you. It is very important for you to use sun-block (recommended: at least factor 15). Two exceptions: Contact lens wearers should take their own lens solution. Women should take their own supplies of tampons.

What you do not need to bring:

  1. Your own computer. The climate is very hard on computers, and it is unlikely that you will be living in a house with air conditioning. In addition, it is important for you to experience teaching under conditions experienced by other teachers at the school, and few of them have their own computers.
  2. Warm clothes. It does not get cold in Belize. At the most you will need a light sweater or jacket.
  3. Very formal clothes.

Health considerations

You will need to follow certain health precautions prior to departure and once in Belize. It is a good idea to check out the U.S. State Department Travel Warnings & Consular Information Sheet on Belize (


  1. Immunizations: You should see you doctor to obtain the necessary immunizations (you doctor will provide information to you on what you will need).
  2. Anti-malaria pills (prophylaxis). Obtain a prescription from your doctor. Do not leave this until the last moment as you usually need to begin taking these pills prior to your departure.

Once in Belize:

  1. Use protective measures to prevent or reduce the likelihood of mosquito bites. Recommended measures: After sunset wear long sleeved shirt; use mosquito net over bed, use insect repellent on bedding, netting, clothing, and skin.
  2. Don't drink tap water (even in ice). Usually you can purchase bottled water, but otherwise you can boil the water, use a water filter pump, or add iodide to the water.
  3. Don't eat raw vegetable, fruits that do not have a thick, disposable outside covering, raw meats, fish, or shellfish, and dairy products from small, independent vendors without pasteurizing facilities.
  4. AIDS is a global concern. It is your responsibility to protect yourself from acquiring this disease (and any other sexually transmitted diseases).

Getting there and getting around once there

You should make your own reservations to Belize. Our recommendation, however, is that you plan to travel with at lest one other person in the program. Once you have been notified of your acceptance into the Belize Student Teaching program there will be a meeting of all participants to explain the program in more detail to you. At this time the different travel options will be discussed. Arrange your travel so that you can make it to Punta Gorda before nightfall (no lights at the airport). This will probably necessitate an early morning departure from Minneapolis. Sunset is at 6:00, light lingers at most until 6:30. You will have time to visit Belize City when you are more aware of the country.

Information about Toledo Community College(TCC)

See also the TCC Home Page. According to this page, Toledo Community College is the largest and only high school in the Toledo District. Located in the western part of Punta Gorda Town, the school has around 700 students currently attending with a staff of around 43 including the pincipal. There are 19 classrooms that consist of five major departments: Business, The Arts, Vocational, Science, General Studies. It is a 9-12 grade school (called forms 1 - 4 under the Belize education system). The courses tau,ght at TCC are:

  • General Studies: Math, English, Science, Technical Drawings, Spanish, Physical Education.
  • Business Dept.: Principals of Accounts, Principals of Business, Office Practice, Typing, Computer.
  • Science Dept.: Biology, Chemistry, Physics.

Links to Belize Web Sites


  1. Geography ( Overview of geography and climate.


  1. History of Belize ( Developed by Naturalight Productions (2000), The following extract from the page introduction describes the site:
    History of Belize, Nation in the Making traces the history of Belize. It focuses on how Belize became what it is today. This website takes us on a journey through time and gives us the opportunity to study the complex society we see today in this small Central American nation.
  2. History of Belize ( Provides a very brief (one page) overview of Belize's history.
  3. Maya Guest House Program ( This link, from the site, gives a brief overview of the Maya guest house program. During the orientation week of your student teaching experience in Punta Gorda, you will participate in this program.


  1. The cultures of Belize (
  2. Culture ( Brief description of some of the cultural groups in Belize (Creole, Garifuna, Maya, and Mennonite).
  3. Home Page of the Maya People of the Toledo District of Belize (
  4. Toledo Maya Culture Council (
  5. Blue Creek, Toledo District (
  6. Belize ~ The Heart of Cultural Diversity - Garifuna Route (
  7. The Garifuna Journey ( "The Garifuna Journey is one vehicle by which we the Garifuna Nation will tell our story that has been buried and hidden for 200 years."
  8. - Garifuna Days (


  1. Toledo Community College (
  2. Belize Ministry of Education and Sports- Overview (


  1. Official Belize Government web site ( Provides links to information on Office of the Prime Minister, Cabinet, Press Office, Library, About Belize, Contact Us, as well as sections on the latest headlines from the press office, what's new, and information.
  2. Government structure and issues ( Brief overview of structure, foreign policy, two-party system, & Belize in the region.


  1. ( Similar to many on-line news services, this page provides links to a variety of news stories, weather, feature sites, as well as sections on: Business and Finance , Districts
    Education, Government, News and Media, Organizations, Reference, Science, Society and Culture.
  2. The Belize Times: Voice of the New Government ( Online version of the Belize Times.
  3. Channel 5 Belize ( Description from the site: "News Five is recognized as one of the region's leading news operations. The full text along with selected pictures from each half hour newscast is updated every night on this site."
  4. The Reporter Newspaper, Belize ( Provides headlines, feature articles,
  5. Amandala ( The online version of Amandala (which reports itself to be the newspaper with the greatest circulation in Belize). Provides feature stories from the news.
  6. San Pedro Sun ( The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize. Highlights news of the week.

Travel/General Interest

  1. Belize Online Tourist and Investment Guide ( Rated #1 Belize web site by Belize First magazine. Provides links to a variety of sites useful to visitors to Belize. These include links to Belize maps, Belize culture, directory of hotels and resorts, photo gallery, and information of each of the districts in Belize, including the Toledo District (where Punta Gorda, the town where you will be student teaching, is located). Good idea to check out their Belize Fact Sheet for visitors for useful overview information on the country, culture, do's and don'ts.
  2. ( This is the official web site of the Belize Tourism Board. It includes the following links: Location - History - Culture - Geography - Government - Things to do - Places to see - Places to stay - Getting Here - Getting Around - Travel Tips - Online Tour.
  3. Belize Report ( This page states that it is: "The in-depth traveler's guide to Belize: Lodging, restaurants, sights, adventure and travel tips; plus immigration, investment and retirement information." Provides a useful "Know Before You Go" page on tips for new visitors to Belize (worth reading before you pack!).
  4. The Lonely Planet: Destination Belize ( Provides a comprehensive set of links, namely: Facts at a Glance, Environment, History, Economy,Culture, Events, Facts for the Traveler ,Money & Costs, When to Go, Attractions, Off the Beaten Track, Activities, Getting There & Away, Getting Around, Recommended Reading, Lonely Planet Guides, Travelers' Reports on Belize, On-line Info.
  5. You Better Belize It! ( Links to lodging, things to do, news and weather, business place, travel and tours, local scene, chat board, email addresses, destinations, what's new, arts and culture.
  6. Toledo Ecotourism Association of Belize Home Page (
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