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May 2016 Update

Dear friends of Matènwa,

1Integrated learning is thriving at MCLC! Using agricultural activities to teach subjects such as math, science, language and art has become an integral part of the learning process. In a recent lesson on seedling development following transplantation, the third graders practiced a range of skills, from counting the number of new leaves on each plant, to writing, illustrating, and discussing their observations. To help stimulate new root growth, they add organic fertilizer to the soil around each young plant. In the secondary school, the 8th graders studied some of the similarities and differences between the school’s indigenous and laying hens. 2

Education through conversation
3Learning through dialogues in an environment of mutual respect is very important to MCLC. This is reflected in its commitment to the Reflection Circles and Open Space programs. In their latest Reflection Circle, the fourth graders talked about what makes a good or bad judge. Some said that a good judge is someone who is impartial. A bad judge, to many, is someone who “sells justice” by taking bribes. In mid-April, we had an Open Space session with parents as well as the 10th and 11th graders on the following theme: Does it make sense for men to work on women’s rights issues? Some participants argued that men who are violating women’s rights in their private life should not be allowed to work on women’s issues and that politicians may highlight the issue during their campaigns but do not focus on it once they are in office.4

Visits from Kellogg Foundation and Beyond Borders
5Because of educational principles and programs such as those mentioned above, visitors from different parts of Haiti and beyond come to Matènwa to observe. April 17th – 19th, we received three people from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and 12 of their other collaborators in education, as well as three Sisters of Notre Dame led by Beyond Borders. Following his visit, Alix Cantave of Kellogg wrote: “It was an amazing learning experience which will inform our efforts to improve access to quality education in the communities where we are working in Haiti.” Thank you, dear friends of Matènwa, for your role in making us into a school that others can learn from.

Vana Edmond, MCLC Direction Committee and Chris Low, Executive Director FOM

Update from Meg/Profile of Abner

DSCN3654DSCN3659Starting this week, older elementary students have been reading with younger ones at LKM once a week in our new Reading Buddies program. DSCN3658This program is a natural fit for Lagonav, where older and younger children often gravitate toward each other in play and learning. For Reading Buddies, students in higher grades are matched with students in lower ones: third grade reads with preschool, fourth grade with kindergarten, fifth grade with first grade, and sixth grade with second grade. Students sit with their partners and read the books they have picked out during weekly library visits.DSCN3657

DSCN3663On Wednesday, I visited the first-grade classroom to see how things were going. Fifth grade had brought their library books and come to read with their partners.

I saw a classroom full of focused, interested pairs of students. It seemed that with someone else to share a book with, students looked more deeply into the book they were reading. Many were new books that our library staff bought in Port-au-Prince over Easter vacation, and students were enthusiastic about them. In some pairs, I saw the older student reading to the younger student; in others, the first-grader was reading, encouraged by the fifth-grader. Here are some pictures so you can see what I saw.

We are continuing with profiles of the school staff. This week’s profile is of Abner Sauveur, co-founder of LKM and Pedagogy Director for LKM’s Institute of Learning.AbnerSauveur

Abner grew up in Matènwa and went to school through 9th grade. After 9th grade, his increasing responsibilities as a community literacy teacher and provider for his family meant that he could not continue. In 1996, Abner and Chris Low founded LKM. Abner says that they wanted “to create a school that worked with a different method.” Some of their goals were for children “to learn in their mother tongue, to learn to read and write well, to learn without physical punishment, so that they can be comfortable in school. For the school to put agriculture together with education, for the students to learn with concrete materials and to get enough to eat in school.” Another goal was “for others to come see the work we’re doing, and spread our message.” All of these goals have now been realized, both in LKM and in our network of 35 partner schools on Lagonav.

Abner’s favorite parts of his current responsibilities are training teachers in pedagogy, visiting partner schools, and working in school gardens. He says that his greatest pride is the influence LKM now has over many other schools on Lagonav. “The message is clear: for children not to be beaten. Many children on Lagonav are not beaten anymore, and that makes me proud. Another thing that makes me proud is the teachers at LKM. They feel it’s a necessity for them to work for change; their work isn’t just a job.”

Finally, Abner says, his vision for the future is for the school’s influence to grow even more, and for every school on Lagonav to someday become like LKM.

Update for April 2016

Dear friends of Matènwa,

1MCLC is continually seeking new ways to improve its programs and make learning more fun and collaborative. In this spirit, we are using paired reading to help increase fluency among students and promote peer collaboration. 2 Students of different reading abilities, from different grade levels, are paired together to read aloud to each other. The third graders are reading aloud to their new kindergarten reading partners in these pictures (above).

Learning Through Play

3Students now have the option of playing fun educational games in the computer room during recess time. Because of the high demand there is a rotating schedule. There are several computer math and puzzle games currently available to the younger students. One of our current interns, Maureen Plaisimond, has also identified some computer games and applications that can be useful in the language classes. We are looking forward to exploring how they can be more fully integrated into the curriculum. If you know of any great educational computer game or application, especially in Creole, we would love to hear from you.

Learning Through Creation and Reflection
4MCLC welcomes anew art teacher, Alan Caristin. Mr. Caristin will be teaching weaving classes to students from third grade and up, showing them how to make different types of woven chairs and other products. Here he is already at work with the fifth graders (on the left), leading a class on how to prepare the wood that will be used for a chair’s frame. MCLC students love their art classes because they provide an opportunity to develop new skills and create functional products. Another popular program among the fifth and sixth graders is Reflection Circles. In this program, students meet once a week to discuss a text that usually has a moral dilemma. They first read the story together, then break into small groups to read the text, then they come together in one large group to further share their questions and insights. During their last meeting, the fifth graders had a very lively discussion about the story they read, “A Thief Who Became Wise.” Through such discussions, students increasingly sharpen their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 5

Samila Edmond, MCLC Direction Committee and Chris Low, Executive Director FOM

March 2016 Update

March 2016

Dear friends of Matènwa,

1Students are always excited to work in the garden and go to the library. Here are the third graders (pictured left) creating a new vegetable garden. Together with the garden technician, they discuss the shape and dimensions of the garden. Next, they go over some of tools they need such as rakes, strings, hoes, picks, shovels and a measuring tape. They then gather some of the tools and go to work. For their next class, they will be putting homemade organic fertilizer into the garden.

2In the library, the kindergarteners have a great time reading with librarian and director Delson Engerville. They enjoy choosing books to take back to class each week.

Training Updates

3There were several trainings for and by MCLC teachers. After a follow-up evaluation of the primary school teachers, Chris Low facilitated several refresher workshops on the use of concrete materials for different courses. Teachers got to practice how they can make math lessons more concrete by using students themselves, for example, to represent denominators and numerators.
Two professors from the MIT-Haiti Initiative came from Port Au Prince to give Matènwa a day training on some MIT physics and math computer applications that have been translated into Creole. Secondary teachers are eager to learn more about these programs so that they can integrate the ones pertinent to the 12 grade curriculum.

4From February 23rd to the 26th, COSPES (a consortium of private sector school organizations in Haiti) brought 8 teachers from the mainland of Port-au-Prince to Matènwa for training. The first day of the visit a couple teachers had reservations of having the language of instruction be solely in Creole. However, upon observing the MCLC classrooms and seeing how students were learning and interacting, the COSPES teachers quickly saw the benefits of mother tongue education. They loved all the music and gardening. COSPES director Caroline Hudicourt said she is eager to bring more teachers from the mainland each year.

Samila Edmond, MCLC Direction Committee
Chris Low, Executive Director FOM

February 2016 Update

February 2016

Dear friend of Matènwa,

aWe are always pleased to update you on some of our program activities. Our weekly school assembly continues to be a big hit among students and staff. The performances are great and often carry important messages that students want to share with the community. For example, the second graders recently performed a song with the following lyrics: “Education enriches us. It uplifts us all when we are down. Collaborate, lend your support. Education does not fall from the sky. Join hands with us so this great work can continue. Let’s put our minds together so we can work even better.”

What we are Learning in Health Class

bThe third graders’ had a great discussion with the school nurse on what good personal hygiene consists of . Together they talked about how bathing frequently, brushing one’s teeth 2 to 3 times a day, wearing clean clothes, and sleeping in a clean bed all help keep the body clean and

The High School c
In keeping with MCLC’s elementary reading model, the secondary school also encourages pleasure reading. Pictured here are the eighth graders in the library. They have each selected a new book for the week.

Training Update

dTo help fight economic insecurity in Matènwa, GreaterGood is piloting a jewelry-making initiative with
a small group of artisans and MCLC parents. GreaterGood facilitated another workshop this month on how to make earrings, which will be for sale on If the earrings sell well, the artisans will continue to receive technical assistance. They will earn fair wages for their work and be able to provide for themselves and their families. e

Our teacher trainers at MCLC’s Institute of Learning are excited to see positive changes beginning to take shape at most of our partner schools. In the pictures to the right, you can see materials posted on what are usually bare walls of a classroom at the Community School of Denyèmak and students working in their new garden at the Agodag School. The Matènwa model is spreading!
Samila Edmond, MCLC Direction Committee and Chris Low, Executive Director FOM

Update from Meg – March 10, 2016

DSCN3155Maureen Plaisimond, MCLC’s newest long-term volunteer, arrived in February and has quickly taken charge of our computer lab and elementary computer classes. As well as being open for regular classes, the lab is now open during recess every day for elementary students to learn, play, and explore on laptops.IMG_2966

DSCN3146Each class has a day of the week to spend recess in the lab, and students who have been respectful and engaged in class that day are allowed to come. Students are very excited about this privilege; Maureen says that the entire school learned which class was assigned which day by word of mouth almost immediately. IMG_2958

DSCN3157The lab is full every day. Students choose to play educational games, write stories in Word, or just explore the computers and what they can do. Some of the younger students are still figuring out how the computer works, how to move the mouse and click, how to open and close windows, and so on. Older students are more advanced, and one or two students come regularly after school to work on computers and are picking up new skills even more quickly.DSCN3153

DSCN3147The students have access to educational games in Kreyòl developed for MCLC by MIT professor Michel deGraff and the MIT Haiti Initiative. These games, which teach math through soccer, cooking, and other fun activities, are favorites for the students. Here, a fourth-grader plays “Machann Manje” (Food Merchant). DSCN3142

We’re all having a great time in the computer lab with Maureen!IMG_2962