It had been overcast and rainy every day in Fermathe that week, which didn’t bode well for the upcoming teacher training session. Having participated as the students in a teacher training workshop on Wednesday, the Wings of Hope teachers were eagerly looking forward to sharing their new expertise with a group of teachers from nearby Duplan. But, given the size of the group, the best place to host the training was on the front porch. However, the weather would have to cooperate to be able to use the open-air space.
This model of teacher training – in particular empowering Haitian educators to provide training for other Haitian teachers – has been 10 years in the making, thanks to a group of dedicated educators from North Carolina. Aware of their own privilege and access to professional development resources, these educators felt called to share the gifts that had been given to them with others.
“I learned that the most important thing is to show up and let the invisible become visible, that is, to allow God to become visible through you and your actions.”
The workshops are organized around a particular theme, in which the teacher students are provided instruction about the active learning process by participating in lessons that model this form of pedagogy. This year’s theme was “transformation” and used the image of the butterfly (papiyon in Creole) to engage in active learning exercises in reading, science, bible study, and music.
Further reinforcing the process, the teachers work together to create their own children’s book based on the theme. They are provided with cameras to use to photograph images that are representative of the theme. They then annotate the photographs in Creole. The finished books, which will be printed in the U.S. and brought back on a future trip, are distributed back to the teachers to be used in their classrooms.
One of the teachers from North Carolina excitedly reported that “the workshops (which are translated into Creole) were an overwhelming success with the teachers enthusiastically engaged in the active learning process and coming away with many new materials and ideas of how to teach children. There was also much singing and laughing throughout the day.”
As the roosters crowed on Friday morning, the day that the Wings of Hope teachers were to lead the teacher training workshop, the sun filled the sky and the clouds drifted away. It was going to be a perfect day for a workshop on the porch.
Chairs and tables were set out for the expected 15 teacher students from Duplan… and just as quickly they were filled. More chairs and more tables were retrieved as teachers continued to arrive. Word had gotten out about the workshop, and an additional 10 teachers made their own transportation arrangements to travel to Fermathe and participate.
The training went as planned, with the weather cooperating and the students fully engaged in learning. “It was rewarding to see the Wings of Hope teachers take ownership of the knowledge and materials and share them with their fellow teachers,” said one of the North Carolina teachers.
At the end of each training session the teacher students were each given a beautiful certificate acknowledging their participation in the workshop. But on this day, in recognition of the 10 year commitment that the North Carolina educators have made to this community and to this mission, the Wings of Hope teachers presented the NC teachers with their very own certificate.
Reflecting on the experience, one of the NC teachers remarked, “I learned that the most important thing is to show up and let the invisible become visible, that is, to allow God to become visible through you and your actions.”
Indeed, God was visible through the actions of this group of dedicated individuals. Thank you for your continued service to the children and teachers in Haiti!
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Building a Creole library
One of the many wonderful outcomes of these workshops is the opportunity for the Haitian teachers to create a book that is written in Creole and is culturally relevant to Haitian children. Each year the American teachers choose a theme for the book and work with the Haitian teachers to take photographs using cameras provided by the U.S. team. They then write the corresponding story in Creole. Books in Haiti are rare enough, but books written in Creole are virtually nonexistent, making it extremely difficult for children to learn to read and write. Joy and pride fills the teachers’ faces as each year as they receive these precious commodities, written in their native tongue.
To learn more about the challenges of the education system in Haiti: