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.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Haiti's (lack of) capacity for education oversight: Encourage, entice, and enrich

I'm amazed at the commitment level of teachers and directors (principals) in Haiti. Of course, like in Canada, there are exemplary teachers and not such exemplary teachers. Yet, considering the wages and teaching conditions, it's remarkable that so many educators are as committed as they are.

This past trip reminded me although there is significant commitment at the local (i.e. school) level, the Haitian government is ill-equipped and ill-prepared (and ill-committed??) to oversee macro-type of change. The disparate school systems (state, private, "blended" - and a whole spectrum of quality within each) are essentially left to monitor themselves. I firmly believe that most teachers want to do the very best they can in their profession. However, without encouragement, enticement, and enrichment from an overseeing body, sometimes the lowest level of expectation is the target.

A healthy, functioning Ministry of Education should encourage and enrich teachers by providing paper, human, and electronic professional resources available to all. It also would entice teachers through a certification and qualification process. By identifying, and monitoring, expectations of pedagogy, classroom management, communication, etc., the Ministry of Education would contribute significantly to the improvement of the educational system in Haiti.

For now, grassroots efforts are making a difference - just without the consistency and "10,000 foot view" that an overseeing body should be able to provide.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Planting seeds for educational partnerships in Haiti

I had an excellent trip to Haiti last week. I made contacts with educators in multiple parts of the country: Carrefour, Leogane, Petit Goave in the west; Port au Prince; and, Cap-Haitien and Limbe in the north. Some highlights:

1. Meeting Dr. Manigat, the vice-rector (vice-president) of Universite Quisqueya, one of the best universities in Haiti. Dr. Manigat was also a former presidential candidate in Haiti and a constitutional law expert. We discussed how UQ and WLU might work together in the future.
2. Meeting with the rector (president) and dean of the the L'Universite Publique du Nord au Cap-Haitien as well as the director of the North Department for the Ministry of Education. We spent an evening dinner as well as a morning in discussions about supporting their programs.
3. Participating in the graduation of 48 students who completed their Master of Education through Laurel University - an amazing experience!
4. Bringing five new Haitian school leaders on board with the Digital Mentoring Project. Research in Motion (RIM) donated 5 Blackberries to these new participants and they were thrilled to receive them!

There were many other meetings as well as opportunity to see parts of Haiti that I have never been to. I am excited about how the capacity which has been built through the M.Ed. - one example is the director of the North for the Ministry of Education who has a new vision for education in Haiti. Leadership capacity is being built and I am glad to be part of the support of it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Haiti M.Ed. graduation and networking meetings

Next week I'm back to Haiti for a week of meetings and to celebrate the graduation of the M.Ed. students I have taught. I have supervised 12 M.Ed. projects so it will be particularly gratifying to see these amazing school leaders receive their degree! I am hoping to edit another book which will be based on the research projects these 12 have completed.

The graduation ceremony is May 12. I will spend two days in advance of that in meetings with university administrators in Port au Prince and Carrefour (south of PAP). Then from May 13-15, I will fly to Cap Haitien (Haiti's second largest city - in the north), where I will have a chance to meet officials from the Ministry of Education as well as representatives from universities. I'm hoping to see a few schools in between meetings as well. It's going to be a busy week! So exciting to see the ground-swell of interest in, and support of, leadership development in Haiti schools!