After many, many months of planning, curriculum development, and teacher training, we rang the bell signaling the official opening of Brit’s Academy on September 2, 2019! Children in grades two-six were ready with new school bags and uniforms as Danielle took class pictures after the opening ceremony. Papi Len designed new classroom space and updated existing classrooms. Each room was decorated and teachers ready with their lesson plan and grade books. In October, we included grades seven-nine to study at Brit’s Academy since schools are now closed due to severe political unrest. So now we have all of our children studying from 8:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. at Brit’s Home. We are thrilled to be able to offer this education to our children, while at the same time our hearts break for the children and families of Haiti who do not have equal opportunities.
Our children are thriving and excelling in school under the leadership of our two Co-Principals (Madame Diane and Mr. Charles) and our amazing Program Director, Myster Way. Children received their first report cards in November and we created a Wall of Honor recognizing children who received top grades in their classes. We also instituted “Citizen of the Week” where children are chosen by their teachers for exemplary behavior, attitude, and citizenship.
Our developmental curriculum focuses on the following: active learning methodology (no memorization or rote learning allowed!); instruction in mathematics, physical science, social science, global citizenship/current events, French and Creole communication, literacy, and social and emotional intelligence. All students receive over an hour of English instruction daily with an emphasis on oral communication. Teachers often take their children outdoors for experiments, observations, and breaks.
We even have special classes: technology, music, art, health education, and physical education. Our fifth and sixth grade classes are now learning Haitian folktales and how to become a storyteller. Dr. Gail Herman, an international storyteller, is working with children via Zoom every other week. We plan to have a storytelling competition in May 2020. Our children now have a love of reading and the library is in constant use with children reading at the end of each school day as well as in free time.
Teachers report that our children absolutely love going to school at Brit’s Academy! We follow the Haitian government curriculum but our teaching methodology is active and developmental. We are sensitive to providing our children with social skills and friendships outside of the gate and the staff plans socials and sporting events at Brit’s Home. Field trips and travel have been limited due to unsafe conditions; we pray that Haiti will experience a stable government and society in 2020.
I am in Haiti monthly providing teacher training (active learning methodology, assessment and evaluation, learning styles and special classroom interventions, and effective classroom management) as well as offering training for the evening and week-end staff in child/adolescent development.
The opening of Brit’s Academy has truly been both gift and blessing. Amidst current unrest, turmoil, and pervading hopelessness among the people of Haiti, our children are safe, happy, well cared for, and becoming remarkable future leaders of Haiti. They give us hope every day and that is why we continue to need your prayers, support, and involvement at Brit’s Home. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to provide classroom materials or help in any way.
I offer you this blessing for the season (prayer partly taken from Out of the Ordinary by Joyce Rupp):
May the wonder and awe that fills the eyes of children be awakened within you. May it lead you to renewed awareness and appreciation of whatever you too easily take for granted.
May you daily open the gift of your life and be grateful for the hidden treasures it contains.
May the coming year be one of good health for you. May you care well for your body, mind, and spirit.
May you keep your eye on the Star within you and trust this Luminescent Presence to guide and direct you each day. Amen.
In deep gratitude for all the children and staff at Brit’s Home,
Dr. Debbie Pallatto-Fontaine, Special Projects Administrator