The Education Committee supports educational initiatives through the parish schools in our Haitian partner parish, fosters access to additional educational opportunity for older students in the parish, and creates opportunities for St. Margaret Mary parishioners to learn more and develop a greater sense of appreciation of and solidarity with our Haitian brothers and sisters.
Elementary/Middle School Support
When we began our partnership with Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish, there were 3 schools operating. Since one was a lean-to under a tarp which was demolished by Hurricane Matthew in October, 2016, the education priority became building a school.
Teacher & School Administrator Training
Our Education Committee works with schools in our sister parish to provide resources for the classrooms and to better equip the teachers. Elementary school (K-6) is offered at St. Joseph and Sts. Peter and Paul chapelles. Our Lady of Fatima school has expanded to include 7th grade as well. One of the most remote chapelles, St. Augustin, which had no parochial school opened a primary level class. The parish now operates schools in 4 of the chapelles and employs 21 teachers.
We funded 2 professional development training weeks for teachers (2017, 2018) and a training day for administrator training. The teachers reported that the training, especially for the use of concrete materials/manipulatives, which included presenting practice lessons based on the content, would help them to do a better job reaching their students. A school director stated “I want to thank all the people of St Margaret Mary for providing us that training. “Our teachers are getting better. It would be the responsibility of the government, but where we are, we are forgotten. St Margaret Mary is helping our community. I don’t have enough words to thank them.” A teacher added “For me the training is very important. It makes me become a better teacher. ...I’ll teach differently, a better way.”
Through the generosity of St. Margaret Mary parishioners, we provided 90 new textbooks in each subject area in August 2018. Haitian students are expected to purchase the books they need for school. This is a major barrier to school enrollment and performance. Through this program, books are rented to students for a modest 30 Haitian gourdes per book, and the fees from book rentals will accumulate to allow for eventual repair and replacement of books. Other curricular materials to create a stimulating classroom include maps, globes, math manipulatives, educational posters and books of Bible stories. We supported the teachers through a livestock program; each teacher received a cow to better compensate them, and an additional livestock bonus will be provided at the end of 2018.
Classes at Our Lady of Perpetual Help are taught in both Haitian Creole (Kreyol) and French, so curricular materials need to be provided in these languages, such as these Bible Stories and educational posters for OLPH Classrooms.
Education for Older Youth / Music Lessons
In fall 2018, we began sponsoring instruction on a musical instrument. Three students began music lessons in Jacmel, and additional students will be invited to participate as we obtain additional instruments and sponsorships. Our first three students include a 16-year old girl (grade 10) and 2 17-year old boys (both in 9th grade), all of whom have been members of our Peace Program. Developing a skill such as playing an instrument helps Haitian youngsters to imagine a broader range of possibilities for their futures while developing confidence and a marketable skill.
Scholarships for vocational training or English school have been provided in instances in which a particularly likely and needy candidate is identified. For example, a young man who assists Pastor Deone in the main parish church, received a one-year scholarship to English school for 2018-2019, funded by donations from St. Margaret Mary School. In addition, St. Margaret Mary School provides regular financial support of the ministry through monthly Haiti Lunch Days and annual events such as the Kindergarten Bake Sale and a portion of Fall Festival proceeds.
Aspiring Musicians with the Instruments provided by SMM (Wilkenson, 17 & Rebecca, Age 16)
Education at St. Margaret Mary Parish
- Haitian Mardi Gras (collaborative program with Polasek Museum with at exhibition by prominent Haitian artist Frantz Zephirin) (February 2017)
- Haitian Literature Book Club (Spring 2017)
- TPS Extension Advocacy Call/letter writing campaign (June 2017)
- Documentary Film Showing: Father Joseph (August 2017)
- Haitian Independence Day Soup Joumou Luncheon & Guest Speaker on Haitians living in U.S. under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) (February 2018)
- Documentary Film Showing: 1804: The Untold Story (May 2018)
Learn more about Haiti: