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.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What is the most important need for a nation? It's not robotics but...

Apr├Ęs le pain, l'├ęducation est le premier besoin du peuple.
After bread, education is the first need of the people.
     Georges Danton

We have wrapped up a good week of planning and training in Cap-Haitien.As always I have been blessed to have wonderful colleagues in Jhonel Morvan and Gabriel Osson who help navigate and nurture our partnerships. I am very grateful to our new friends and partners at Northeastern State University and Robotics Education and Competition Foundation for leading the robotics training.

The week has surpassed my expectations (and they were already high!).

Next steps?

Return in the summer to lead a major teaching and leadership institute.

Return to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics opportunities for Haitian youth, particularly girls, in a summer camp.


1,000s of students, teachers, and principals who have more capacity and opportunity to pursue their dreams!

What is the most important need of a nation? Bread and education. We are supporting the one so that people can ensure the other.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Robotics training is off to a great start in Cap-Haitien, Haiti!

Our partnering teams from Northeastern State University and Robotics Education and Competition (REC) arrived Thursday and began their robotics training program yesterday. It is off to an amazing start!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Which is more important ... having connections or money?

As a researcher interested in international and comparative education, I am intrigued with how young people in countries like Haiti and Canada pursue career options.

Last night, I was talking with Doody and Samy, two young Haitian men who are pursuing a university education. Doody (centre) is interested in psychology and Samy (right) wants to be a medical doctor.
Samy has received a scholarship from a Canadian organization to support his medical studies. However, he wasn't able to gain entrance to one of the top medical programs in Haiti despite performing well on the medical exam. This raised the question - why?

As we talked, it became clear that they felt that it was because he didn't have a connection at the university to which he applied. Samy believe that, because he was perceived as coming from a poorer background and without the university's knowledge of the scholarship, he was not able to gain a spot on the med school roster. Samy indicated that if he had a connection at the university, someone who would speak up for him, he would have been accepted because his med school exam results were strong. He also felt that some med school candidates had received entrance offers, not because they performed well on the test, but because they were well connected.

This raises lots of challenging ethical and social justice questions. It also made me question whether similar practices (nepotism?) occur in Canada? Certainly, I don't see it happening in the university contexts in which I have worked but I do hear about it in work places.

The reality is that, whether in Haiti or Canada, having both connections and money helps in pursuing careers. The challenge, whether in Haiti or Canada, is what happens if you only have connections or money? What happens if you have neither?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Trust + TIme = Authentic Partnerships and Resipwosite

We have amazing partners in Haiti! What makes a partnership amazing? When it involves reciprocity (resipwosite in Creole). Resipwosite means that a partnership is two-way ... both sides contribute and benefit. For this to occur, you have to establish trust and invest time.

Yesterday we met with five of the key educational leaders we work with in Cap-Haitien. With each, an authentic partnership, one of resipwosite, has evolved.

First, we met with Yanick and Vierginat who are Catholic Sisters and who lead the College Regina Assumpta. This is a Catholic, all-girls school that we have worked with for the past four years. The motto of the school reflects a commitment to support empowerment for girls in Haiti.
picture from May, 2015

We then went to College Notre Dame where we met with the head of that school, Father Bernard. This Catholic, all-boys school has had a remarkable tradition of supporting the education of the young men of Cap-Haitien for over 100 years.
picture from October, 2014

In the afternoon, we met with Andre who is the director for the Center for the Education of Women and Children, a Haitian NGO. Andre was one of the first people I met with when I first started working in Cap nearly five years ago. The Center he runs provides training for women to support life skills and micro-business. There is also a nutrition center to help very young children.

Finally, in the evening, we met with Thelus Wilson. I have known Thelus the longest; probably for nearly 10 years. We first met when he was a student in a Master of Education course I taught near Port-au-Prince. He has established a school in the Cap-Haitien region that supports a very marginalized community.
Authentic partnerships are not always easy to develop or maintain. I feel fortunate and blessed to know that we have many of these types of partnerships in Cap-Haitien ... ones that clearly involve resipwosite.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Teacher training, robotics, STEM for girls: Building on Laurier's work in northern Haiti

This week we are in Cap-Haitien, Haiti planning for the summer Laurier Teaching and Leadership Institute and helping facilitate a robotics program for girls at one of our partner schools in Haiti.

The first part of the week will focus on preparing for the summer institute. My colleagues, Jhonel Morvan and Gabriel Osson, both who work at the Ontario Ministry of Education and who have worked with me in Cap-Haitien for the past three years, are central to the institute. We are meeting with our school partners in Cap to determine what types of workshops will be delivered, the format of the workshops, and the location. This is the culmination of three years of preparation so I am delighted to see us at this stage.

On Friday and Saturday, we will be working with another Canadian colleague, Peggy Scott, and a team from the United States to deliver training to teachers on a specialized robotics program. The school, College Regina Assumpta, is one that we have worked with for a number of years and I am excited about this next step in our relationship. The school is for girls only and the program will support these girls in considering STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) as future career options. This program is the vision of Dr. Allyson Watson, a colleague from Northeastern State University, Oklahoma who accompanied our Laurier team in May.

Stay tuned to the blog for updates as the week progresses.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Social innovation: Concept map

I am part of the "change team" at Wilfrid Laurier University as we apply to be an "Ashoka Changemaker Campus". This is a designation for select universities that meet high-level criteria related to fostering social innovation on campus. Read more at Ashoka U (click here).

In preparation for a presentation I will be doing today, I completed the following concept map. The various bubbles represent the different programs (yellow bubbles), research projects (blue bubbles), and ways that the information is mobilized (green bubbles).