About Me

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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Glocal Contrasts - from Rideau Hall to PAP

I had the opportunity to attend the Killam Prizes at Rideau Hall (home of the Governor General, pictured with me above) just before going to Haiti.  I was there as a representative of the Comparative and International Education Society of Canada. To go from black tie (or in my case, red tie!) and in the midst of great prosperity to the challenges of making ends meet day-to-day was another reminder of the glocal contrasts we encounter.

Participants in the M.Ed. class - Oct. 2011

Back to Canada ... but with thoughts of Haiti (and generosity)

I returned to Canada on Saturday night with minimal delays and inconvenience.  I'm always reminded of the stark contrasts between Haiti and Canada on these return trips.  Just looking in the windows of the high end shops in Miami airport is enough to bring one to tears after seeing the extreme sacrifices of teachers and principals in Haiti. I know it is a financial struggle for many of the principals just to get a tap-tap (mini busses/trucks which transport people throughout the country) after a week of a course.

And yet, my Haitian colleagues are so generous.  They are generous in their verbal encouragement of each other and me.  They are also financially generous - they pooled funds and bought a beautiful hand-sculptured, Haitian wood carving for me (see picture below).  My colleagues reminded me again of the importance of commitment to a cause - developing a solid educational system in Haiti - but also to never lose sight of being generous in our relationships as we work toward that cause.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Johnny ... more heroes

A week of teaching has wrapped up and I'm exhausted. However, principals like Johnny Philippe motivate me. Johnny is about half way through his MEd while working full time and raising his family with his wife. After we were done today, he was ready to head home ... but the ancient car he was driving wouldn't start. A couple of guys jumped in and, over the next few hours, proceeded to hot wire the car. Johnny had a few hours to go before he'd make it home so hopefully his car made it! These are my heroes.

Last night we had an amazing celebration as 60+ people joined us as 4 MEd students presented their projects and completed the requirements of their MEd ... more heroes!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guava jelly and CocaCola

My morning started with fresh bread from a local bakery and a lovely container of guava jelly - my favourite! Tonight, I'm relaxing with a tall Coke! What a Glocal connection in Haiti!

Yesterday I met with the director for the Nord department of education. We formalized the agreement we have to provide teacher training in his region. Today, the new gov't was installed in Haiti and it has all happened without incident. I am hopeful that a new era of peace and stability has come to Haiti. There is great potential for long-lasting change here and the teacher-training program in the north could be a very significant step in that direction.

Tonight, 4 students who I have supervised for their MEd project provided their presentations. There was about 60 people in the audience so it was quite a powerful evening. I'm hoping to take some of the best projects and developing a book on leadership practices for Haiti. I also met with a group yesterday to talk about establishing a professional teaching magazine or journal in Haiti. I'm quite excited about this possibility!

The materials collected by the WLU students has been distributed and my suitcases are empty of supplies ... It must be time to return home. One more day of teaching and then I shall make the transition back to Canada. I always leave with mixed feelings - I love the passion, questions, and dedication of my colleagues in Haiti ... But there's no place like home!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wilson ... and other heroes

Wilson picked me up at the PAP airport Monday @ 7:30 am. Wilson has given me rides before and I love his driving skills. I would guess that he's in his 60s with a very distinguished beard (and no teeth!). He would appear to be quite well-mannered and gentle ... But put him in a jeep with a tight timeframe and he navigates the back streets of PAP like an Indy race car driver. We pulled into the conference @ 8:30 to the shocked expressions of everyone. We were ready to go right on time!

The past 2 days have been a whirlwind - 8 hours of teaching each day, primarily to 30 principals in a MEd class but also 150 lead teachers at the conference. Then mtgs with former and current MEd student and with participants in the digital mentoring project. Today I meet with the department director for the Ministry of Education who is a key partner in our CIDA grant application. It's been an excellent trip thus far!

Monday, October 17, 2011

On to PAP

After a long day yesterday, I'm on the first flight to Port au Prince this morning. I should arrive at 7:30 am, drive to Fermathe, and start teaching by 9:30. It's going to be a long day but it'll be good to be back in Haiti.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

As Charlie Brown would say, "Argh!" - Flight Delay in Toronto (Haiti Trip Oct 2011 Posting 1)

My trip to Miami has started similarly to some previous ones ... with flight delays from Toronto!  Instead of arriving in Port au Prince today, I'll have to wait until tomorrow and will spend the night in Miami.  It's frustrating to spend months in preparation and then to experience this.  However, in keeping with the Haitian spirit, c'est la vie!

Fortunately, I can catch an early morning flight from Miami tomorrow which will get me into PAP by 7:30 am.  By the time we drive up into the mountain where I'll be located on this trip, the morning class I'm teaching should only have to be delayed by an hour or two.

I'll update the blog as frequently as I can over the next week.  It will be a jam-packed week of lectures, meetings with M.Ed. students and Ministry of Education officials, and completing the evaluation component of a research project I began on my last trip.

School Supplies for Haiti

This is a suitcase full of school supplies for Haiti.  Students from the Faculty of Education at WLU and from Victoria Cross public school in Mount Forest, Ontario (a former students of mine is a teacher there) collected the supplies including pencils, chalk, toothpaste, French posters and soccer balls!  I'll deliver these to a principal of a rural school when I'm in Haiti for distribution to children in his school.

Ride for Refuge

Our glocal team from WLU raised over $1000 in the Ride for Refuge event! Some of the riders are pictured above. We raised funds for Life Change Adventures, a Waterloo based charity helping to make a difference in the world both locally and globally. Despite the rain, wind, and cold weather, we had a great time!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A different type of mobile learning (India)

This is a great story about "mobile technology" in Delhi, India.  The video is approximately 5 minutes long:

India's Mobile Schools (from The Guardian, London)

Educational Training in the North Department, Haiti

The final touches are being put on our CIDA grant application to establish a comprehensive teacher and school administrator training program in the North Department of Haiti.  The North Department is in the north (ironic, eh?!) of Haiti, includes the 2nd largest city in Haiti (Cap Haitien), and is largely rural.  The director of education for that department (equivalent to a Minister of Education for a province in Canada) is partnering with Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Guelph to develop this educational training program. 

We just got news this week that the national Ministry of Education has also given the project its support!  Now we have to wait to see if CIDA provides the finances to make this a reality.  Unfortunately, this takes about 6 months so it will be some time before we find out.

Haiti Trip - October 2011

I'm off to Haiti again in just over a week.  There are a number of key parts to this trip:

1. Teaching a group of 40 directors (principals) in a school supervision course.
2. Two half-days of teaching a group of about 300 lead teachers.
3. Supervising the presentations of 4 Master of Education students who are completing their major research project.
4.  Meeting with one of my former M.Ed. students who is the director of a department (there are 10 departments/regions in Haiti) in the Ministry of Education about a teacher-training project we are planning for his region.
5.  Evaluating the pilot project we have been engaged in regarding digital mentoring.

It's going to be an extremely busy time.  I will update the blog as I have Internet access, electricity, and time!