About Me

My photo
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.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Redefining international education for the digital age

This is a good article in yesterday's University Affairs magazine. It is written by the director of Canadian Virtual University, a consortium of 12 Canadian universities. The reference to the project in Haiti is particularly intriguing.

Redefining international education for the digital age

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cap Haitien Educational Research Network Trip Outcomes

The final day in Haiti started with Save the Children, one of the largest NGOs in the world with a focus on the rights of children. They are very active in Haiti and have been the co-lead with UNICEF in rebuilding the educator sector. We discussed ways we may be able to work together in the future.

The trip home has largely been uneventful with most of my time taken in writing up reports on the trip for various departments at WLU (e.g. research, education, global engagement). I also started the application process for the different government grants we will be applying for. 

As this trip wraps up, here are key highlights and next steps.


  • partnership agreements with the North Department Ministry of Education and the Public University of the North
  • visiting multiple schools in Cap-Haitien
  • exploring various logistical aspects (accommodations, health facilities, banking)
  • meeting people "on the ground" who are engaged in good work
  • meetings with the Cdn embassy staff and Dr. Berg Hyacinthe from the Haiti Prime Minister’s office 
  • through all these, sensing the interest and commitment to educational improvement in the North Department

Key Next Steps:

  • grant applications completed (Cdn Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade)
  • concept papers developed around multiple project possibilities
  • strengthening the partnerships and engaging in training and research starting already in the next 6 months

Friday, October 12, 2012

Meetings at Canadian embassy in Port au Prince and with the government

This morning, we flew from Cap-Haitien to Port au Prince for a day of meetings... and what a day it was!

The early morning highlight was going to the Cap airport with Justin and watching him "work the crowd!" The guy is a master. Everywhere we went in Cap, he seemed to know people. At the airport he was hugging people, shaking hands, kissing babies (OK, maybe not babies). He is a key guy in our future work in Cap.

After arriving in PAP, a former M.Ed. student of mine (Odeus Georges Odney) picked us up and took us to our meetings. We started at the Canadian Embassy, meeting with three people responsible for higher education, governance, and CIDA's work in Haiti. We had an excellent meeting with them discussing various aspects of education in Haiti. They were very appreciative of the work I have done in Haiti (I had sent them a brief before leaving Canada) and highly encouraged us to continue with the partnership-building and research networks.

From the embassy, we traveled to the Haitian Prime Minister's office where his advisor (Dr. Berg Hyacinthe) met us. I had been connected with Dr. Berg by a colleague I have worked with in the U.S. This gentleman would put Justin to shame with his schedule! He has a Ph.D. in cyber terrorism and informatics from  Florida State U. He was a prof in France before returning to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. He is now the key advisor to the government on issues such as education. He also is head of research at the state university of Haiti. Oh yes, he's also a lawyer. I would guess he is no older than 40. Wow.

We spent two hours with Dr. Berg and received lots of input and encouragement regarding the work we are planning in the north. He also gave us great counsel regarding the new state university that has been built in Haiti and encouraged us to pursue a partnership with it.

We returned to our hotel around 5 and I spent the next hour with Odney who is hoping to apply for a PhD at University of Ottawa. We enjoyed a celebratory dinner at the Visa Lodge for an excellent 3rd day of networking and partnership-formation!

We have one more meeting tomorrow morning with Save the Children before we fly back to Toronto.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who would have known five years ago...

Five years ago, I was asked to supervise the Master of Education project of Justin Metelus. I had met Justin in a course I taught a year or two earlier and I knew he was highly respected by his peers. I agreed to supervise him.

It's amazing how these things work out.

This week, I've realized how significant of a person he is in education in Haiti. Three weeks ago, he left his post at the Ministry of Education in Port au Prince to come to Cap-Haitien as the Director of the department. Here is a little bit of insight into his new life:

1. In the two hours he met with us today, there were 42 voice mail messages left on his phone.
2. Both yesterday and today, he had security guards with him at all times - he is pushing for change in the north and the government has provided the security guards as a measure of assurance for his work and vision.
3. His BlackBerry rings approximately 1x/minute.
4. Everywhere we went, people knew Justin.
5. He has established multiple schools, universities, and educational initiatives in the north.
6. Justin has a huge vision for the north (and Haiti) to be changed through education.

I could not have asked for a better colleague to work with here - highly connected, highly respected, and with a big vision!

New Partnerships, New Friendships

Today was a good day of discussions and partnership formations here in Cap-Haitien. We met with officials from the Public University of the North at Cap-Haitien (president, two deans, business administrator) as well as the Director of the Ministry of Education (pictured with me to the right).

An outcome of the meeting were two partnership agreements: one between WLU and the Ministry of Education (MENFP) and the other between WLU and UPNCH. The focus of our partnership with MENFP will be on educational leadership capacity-building. We will be putting in an application to host a "fact-finding" and "vision-casting" conference in Cap-Haitien, perhaps in May. Justin Metelus (Director, MENFP) will be the host and coordinator.

The partnership between WLU and UNPCH will have a number of areas of collaboration including the development of an English Language Institute and support (research, technology, pedagogy) for university professors.

We just finished meeting with the brother of the Haitian Consul General (Toronto). He lives in Montreal six months of the year and in Cap the remaining months. He was very helpful in giving us ideas for hotels, health care, banking, and transportation.

We wrap up the day with an evening meeting with the Director of an NGO here (Rayjon) which has a focus on nutrition, health care, and education.  We leave at 7:30 tomorrow morning for a flight back to Port au Prince - then a meeting with the education officials at the Cdn embassy and a meeting with the state university of Haiti. More details to come on these meetings. For now, mission accomplished in Cap-Haitien.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

School Supply Distribution in Cap-Haitien

Here is a short video that shows Bruce Alexander, school principal from Waterloo school board, distributing school supplies that Laurier students donated:


Cap-Haitien Educational Leadership Research Network

Today, we flew to Cap-Haitien from Port au Prince. We were met at the airport by the North Department Director of the Ministry of Education (MENFP), Justin Metelus, who was a student I supervised for his Master of Education degree. He is very passionate about re-envisioning education in the north of Haiti (also the subject of his M.Ed. thesis). As the Director, he oversees education for the entire North Department, one of 10 government regions in Haiti. As you can imagine, he is a significant person in the region. I would guess that his Blackberry rang at least once/minute and everywhere we went, people knew him.

Justin toured us through two public elementary schools and one high school (he founded this school - now with 5,000 students studying there). We also had a chance to meet at this office and discuss a partnership between WLU and MENFP. He is very eager to do this. As we talked, it was clear that he thought a conference would be a good way to get 50 of the top educators from the region together to discuss how to "re-imagine" education in the north of Haiti. I will take the lead with securing funding for such a conference and he will take the lead with inviting appropriate people and setting the agenda. I anticipate that the conference will take place over a weekend in April or May and I will bring a team of educational leaders from Canada to participate.

As we talked with school principals today, I was reminded of the basic (but so easily forgotten in our Cdn context) need to feed children. When I asked the two elementary principals what their number one need is, they both said feeding children. It seems that the World Food Programme which began after the earthquake is no longer providing food for children in Cap-Haitien. This was a real enticement to send children to school - they would be fed. However, the principals said that it's hard to get children to come to school when they are needed at home to help with bringing in an income so the family can have food.

Canteens are built at schools but there is no money for food.  We have much to be thankful for in Canada. Although we have families who have similar needs, there are significant initiatives to meet these basic needs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In Haiti ... but with a different time-frame and a good reminder of friends

Over the next few days, I will provide updates regarding the trip that Bruce Alexander (principal, Waterloo) and I are undertaking to/in Haiti.

My day began with a midnight call from American Airlines indicating that our 6:25 am flight from TO to JFK was delayed.  The delayed time meant we would miss the one flight a day from New York to Port au Prince. I normally fly through Miami so was able to get us on at 6:30 flight to Miami. Good news! Unfortunately, we were delayed in Miami and missed our internal flight from Port au Prince to Cap-Haitien.

Almost every trip to Haiti has travel glitches; nothing new today on that note.  What I was reminded of though today was the importance of friends here in Haiti. While in Miami, I was able to contact four different friends in Haiti (one by Skype and three by email) who helped with our alternative travel plans: one made a reservation for a hotel I have stayed in near the PAP airport (where I am on-line now), another helped make new reservations for our internal flight tomorrow, and a third helped with rescheduling hotel and meetings in Cap Haitien. What a blessing!

Another blessing was our arrival in PAP - no problems with getting our bags, clearing immigration, and getting a taxi for a reasonable fair. There is an increased UN presence at the airport, at least compared to my last few trips when they have been largely absent (from what I could tell) at the airport.

Rarely do plans here (or in Canada for that matter) go as anticipated. We shall now see what tomorrow holds!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cap-Haitien and Educational Leadership Partnerships

I leave in one week for meetings in Cap-Haitien and Port au Prince. I am delighted that Bruce Alexander, a principal from the Waterloo school board, will be joining me. He has worked in teacher training in Haiti before and is French-speaking. Cap-Haitien is in the north of Haiti - about a 30 minute flight from Port au Prince. It is the second largest city in Haiti and is becoming the focus of WLU's partnership work in Haiti (see earlier blog posts as to rationale).

Our schedule is looking like this:

Oct. 9 Arrive in Cap-Haitien and dinner meeting with president of UPNCH (Public University of the North) and Director of MENFP (Haitian Ministry of National Education)

Oct. 10 Full day of meetings with UPNCH and MENFP - signing of Memorandum of Understanding and development of plans for an English Language Institute as well as a Leadership and Research Centre

Oct. 11Visits to schools and facilities in Cap-Haitien and local area (to develop plans to bring future groups of WLU students and Waterloo-area teachers)

Oct. 12 Travel to Port au Prince - full day of meetings with university, NGO, and Canadian embassy personnel + evening meetings to establish the French-language equivalent to www.haitieducationalleadership.com

Oct. 13 Return home

It will be a packed week! I will be posting regular updates when we are on the ground.