Stepping Up To A New Challenge

By Ryan O’Grady

Life has a funny way of presenting new challenges and opportunities for growth. Jess Patel has been living in La Romana and working as a teacher at the Joe Hartman School for over two weeks and has already been presented with obstacles and victories.


A typical day in Patel’s new world is a bit different from that in America. Patel leaves Casa Pastoral, the mission house, around 7:15 a.m. in order to arrive at Joe Hartman School at 8 a.m. Once school begins, Patel helps line up the students so they can all take part in a morning prayer and sing the national anthem. Patel teaches three classes a day, from Tuesday to Thursday, in which she works diligently to teach her students English.


While the students try incredibly hard, Patel has encountered some obstacles. Patel has found that it is difficult to get through her entire lesson plan in one session because repetition is necessary. There is also a limit of class materials, which makes Patel’s already difficult job a bit harder. Despite these challenges, Patel says that seeing these children learn is an incredibly rewarding experience.

“These kids deserve that education. I want to try to help wherever I can and teach whoever wants to learn.” Patel said.

Patel is doing just that. Aside from teaching, Patel is also working with the Joe Hartman Sponsorship program. Patel keeps in touch with the students’ sponsors and works to constantly update the program’s website and social media pages.


jess 1

“I didn’t like learning about how some students can’t afford to go to school and are forced to work instead. They’re only kids and shouldn’t be working so young,” Patel said. “The sponsorship program makes a huge impact.”


Once her day at school is complete, Patel says she typically goes back to Casa Pastoral for lunch and to relax with some of her new friends. In her spare time, Patel is applying for admission to medical schools come next fall, as well as teaching English to some of the Casa Pastoral workers.


This blog will continue to update Patel’s progress and story!  For more information on how to get involved in this life-changing work with the DR Mission Team, please visit


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