Last week I traveled to Hinche with my brother, Gregory, who was my travel companion and videographer. Our motto for the week, “pwoblém pap fini” (problems are never finished) came courtesy of our friend Etiénne.
I had several objectives:
- Meet with Pere Noé about how our teacher training teams have been doing and how we can improve the training program.
- Meet with the Ministry of Education about the possibility of a joint teacher training certificate program between the Ministry and the Monterey Institute
- Meet the local teachers who have been involved in the two training programs that have taken place, one in January and one in June.
- Meet with the local Rotary to establish a relationship between Rotary in Hinche and Rotary clubs on the Monterey Peninsula for potential joint grant applications
- Meet the new English teacher Linda, observe her classes, and see how the materials that our teams brought down in June were being used.
- Take lots of video footage and photos, conduct interviews with Pere Noé, teachers, and students for a promotional video on our MIIS immersion programs.
Pere Noé was very busy as usual, especially with new students arriving and parent meetings with the new semester recently in gear. But we had a chance to talk about how the MIIS teams were doing, and he feels that the English instruction has definitely benefitted from the teacher training. It was overwhelmingly wonderful to meet with Shester Severe, Marc Arthur Esperance, Evens Israel, Supreme, Neilson, Willforte, and others who had been involved in the training programs. They were so grateful, positive and supportive in helping me with information that will help develop the program further. All the teachers but Evens provide English lessons for free in the community every Saturday.
In addition to teaching English, Neilson is a secondary school supervisor for 20 schools in the region. They especially appreciated learning the concept of developing learning objectives (SWBAT–the student will be able to…) aligned with lesson plans and differentiating teaching methodologies for the different levels of English proficiency among their students as well as their different purposes for learning English. Purposes for learning English in the community range from being interpreters, traveling to the US, interacting with English speakers and NGOs in Haiti, and having a definitive advantage over non-English speakers in the job market in Haiti. As the English exam at the school emphasizes reading comprehension, an essay, and grammar, more needs to be done to develop students’ speaking abilities. This comes from less emphasis on teacher-centered teaching and more on student-centered creative activity. This kind of transition from a centuries-long teacher-centered approach takes time, but we have very intelligent, motivated, and receptive and eager teachers!
Unfortunately, I was unable to meet Linda, as she is about ready to deliver a baby. So English lessons in the lower grades does not appear to be happening at this point–probably she will resume after the first of the year. So I was unable to see the materials we sent there in June. More work to be done on this front.
Ministry of Education
Thanks to Pere Noé for arranging a meeting with the Minister of Education for the Central Plateau! The meeting was very productive, in that I was able to get a copy of the exit exam for the 13th grade for English and Spanish, which will help our curriculum developers align the English curriculum with the ministry’s standards. He also promised to send me the benchmarks for each grade (I will follow up by email). In addition, I got the names of the books the ministry sanctions for English teaching. Best of all, the Minister was enthusiastic about a joint teacher training certificate, and I learned that the standard for earning a teaching license is, after two years of teaching, to submit a full curriculum with lesson plans to the ministry. That is perfectly in line with the kind of training we are already providing, but gives the program more focus on licensure for teachers. Supremely exciting!! The Minister even wants his wife to join our program.
Thanks to Shester and Marc for accompanying me to the meeting of the Rotary Club of Hinche and serving as interpreters. The president of the club, Germanité is a woman! She appears to be extremely competent and also speaks English quite well. We agreed on cooperating on a grant proposal to Rotary to support teacher training in Hinche. Before leaving for Hinche, I had already met with Ann Appel of the Monterey Pacific Rotary Club on the grant requisites and procedures, so I was able to speak knowledgeably about the process with the Hinche Club. They were very enthusiastic, so I’m optimistic we can establish a good relationship between the Rotary clubs here and in Hinche. One of the members also wants to join the teacher training program.
XO Laptop Program and Computer Lab
The good news in the lower grades is the work of Darus Alberuc with the XO laptops! He has a regular schedule:
Monday: 6th grade
Tuesday: 3rd, 5th, and 6th
In the class we observed, students were learning keyboarding by typing in words shown in floating balloons before the balloons burst. Not only were they learning keyboarding, but also how to spell English words and words in other languages. Darus is a wonderful and compassionate teacher; his love of the children is obvious inside and outside of the classroom.
The other unfortunate thing was not being able to see the computer lab, but the positive side of this is that Noé’s work to increase the number of well-built and solid classrooms is temporarily displacing the computer lab. The old lean-to classrooms are now larger and secure, so parents no longer have to worry about their kids being in unsafe constructions. Herodion, the IT teacher, also has a regular schedule of classes for teaching about computers (not hands-on). That schedule is:
Monday: 2nd grade
Wednesday: 4th and 5th
Thursday: 2nd and 5th
Food Program and Self-Sufficiency
Pere Noé has gotten the food program down to a science. It is running so obviously more efficiently than last year, when he first arrived at St. André’s. I barely noticed that the lunch had even begun, as I was waiting for the usual chaos that did not materialize. There are now 15 people working from before dawn into the evening to prepare the food for the burgeoning numbers of children in the school. Noé says they are now adding dried fish for more protein, plus beans, pasta and veggies.
Noé’s dream of self-sufficiency is making progress. He says that now 40% of families pay full tuition; 20% pay partial tuition; 15% are fully subsidized, leaving the other 25% supported by St. Dunstan’s contributions.
New Building Construction
Here are photos of the new building construction for George’s enjoyment. 😉 Noé plans to have a second story built in the next year. Once the second story goes up, the computer room will no longer be needed as a classroom and the computer lab can be a reality.