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November, 2008:

Fayerweather: Beginnings of a long term partnership

During the Month of October Fayerweather Street School, a small progressive school in Cambridge, MA, hosted two teachers from Matènwa, Millienne Angervil and Benaja Antoine. Millienne, a 2nd grade teacher spent 5 weeks observing and teaching in the 1st/2nd classrooms. She also visited several classes where she observed or taught Haitian songs. Benaja Antoine, Matènwa’s office manager and now librarian, spent a week being trained in Fayerweather’s wonderful library by Connie Biewald. During the exchange, both Haitian teachers lived with Fayerweather families and were treated to a variety of activities on the weekends including a birthday party, a view from the Prudential building, the Museum of Science, a Duck tour, an ice skating show, a Haitian dance class, and a Sweet Honey and The Rock concert.

On October 23rd Fayerweather’s Diversity Committee sponsored a joyful community evening where parents had the opportunity to spend time with Millienne, Benaja, and Chris Low, cofounder of the Matènwa Community Learning Center. Millienne shared some of her impressions of Fayerweather, “What impressed me most was seeing how much love the Fayerweather teachers give their students. The children feel so at home here. It made me recognize that I have not been giving my students enough love. It makes me want to hurry home so I can start to show my students this kind of love.” Joanie, a Fayerweather 1/2 teacher, talked about how Millienne’s questions helped her to reflect on her own practice. We plan to deepen this relationship through teacher visits, sharing of student work and materials, joint curriculum development, and student exchanges over the Internet.

During a MCLC slideshow presentation 7th and 8th grade students reflected on how they could benefit from this exchange. “Wow, no garbage after meals at their school. We make so much garbage.” “I would like to have a school garden at Fayerweather like theirs.” “We only have a small compost compared to what they do.”

In February 2009, members of the Fayerweather staff will visit Haiti a second time. This group includes Fayerweather’s head of school Ed Kuh and six Fayerweather teachers. For more about Fayerweather Street School, please visit www.fayerweather.org