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Update from Meg – November 13, 2015


Soon after I arrived in Matènwa in July, I had an interesting conversation with a teacher who was very surprised by how fast I could type. He asked if I could teach him how to type quickly like that. I soon learned that no one on the school staff had ever had the opportunity to learn how to touch-type. Everyone typed slowly and carefully, searching for each letter. For teachers, creating exams and other materials for students was a long and laborious process. Over the next few weeks and months, many more teachers asked me for a typing class.

DSCN2399I didn’t know how to teach touch-typing, but I did some research and quickly found some useful sources and exercises. Last Friday, I asked teachers who were interested in learning to type to sign up for one of two groups. Each group will meet once a week for 6 to 10 weeks, depending on how fast we get through the material. 31 teachers and other staff members signed up for the class.
This Monday evening, the first group met for the first time. When I told the teachers that the first rule of our typing class was never to look at the keyboard again, a wave of nervous laughter spread through the room. We went over finger and hand positions for touch-typing and began with an exercise using “j,” “k,” and the space bar. One teacher, touch-typing “jjj jjj jjj” successfully for the first time, exclaimed “Yes! I’m going to be able to do this!”DSCN2403
At the end of the class, I passed out paper “keyboards” so that teachers could practice their keystrokes even when they didn’t have access to a computer. The next morning, on my way to school, I met LKM’s guard, who had participated in the typing class. He told me, “The typing class was really great yesterday! I was practicing all night on my paper keyboard!”DSCN2401

Later in the day, during the secondary-school recess, I found three or four secondary teachers in the computer lab—all typing their “jjj kkk jkj” exercises. I’m very happy about this typing class and the teachers’ excitement about it.

November 2015 Update

November 2015

Dear friends of Matènwa,

We are pleased to present you with the latest update on our program activities. As we work to spread MCLC’s educational model to our partner schools, we want to keep sight of and improve within our school all the core elements that have inspired others to follow our example. To this end, we recently conducted classroom observations in all primary grades to evaluate our teachers and determine in what areas they need additional support.

Every week, each class goes to the school library and selects books to bring back to class. They share and exchange their books with each other throughout the week. Here are our second graders are enjoying their books during morning silent reading.

Hands-on learningtwo
MCLC seeks to continually offer its students the opportunity to experience what they are learning. Therefore, during a lesson on dental hygiene, the third graders did not simply learn about the best ways to brush their teeth from their teachers, they also got a chance to practice these techniques in school!

In the garden, the preschoolers learned about some of the differences between olive and carrot seeds. They used their senses to compare the color, size, and texture of the seeds. The fourth to sixth graders worked on transplanting some seedlings from the nursery to the garden beds and others into small plastic bags for distribution.

Training Updatesfour
As part of a partnership with Beyond Borders, we recently trained 4 partner schools in a special accelerated education program for overage students ages 8 through 17 who have never attended school. It is designed to provide them the equivalent of a 6th grade education within 4 years. The training focused on the program’s curriculum and teaching methodology.

MCLC’s SASA! team also trained an additional group of people on how to conduct baseline surveys and focus groups in a near by community called Nan Kafe, to learn about the population’s perceptions and beliefs about power and violence against women and girls.three

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

Update from Meg – October 28, 2015

This week, students at LKM, like their peers at schools all over Haiti, are taking tests. This is the “premyè kontwòl,” or first of four exam periods of the school year, as mandated by the Haitian Ministry of Education.
However, the exams take place a little differently at LKM than at many other Haitian schools.
Delson, the director of primary grades at LKM, told me that most schools do nothing but exams this week. Students come in the morning, take a test, and then are sent home—where, he says, “they sit around and do nothing.” A whole week of school is lost. But here, Delson says, “we don’t lose any time.” Students take tests this week, but they also go to music, PE, computer and library classes as usual, and continue with reading and other activities with their classroom teachers.
At many schools, students take their exams crowded inside a classroom, where teachers are constantly guarding students closely. According to Jeanes, another LKM teacher, the teachers make students sit up straight and won’t let them even glance to either side.
At LKM, students can sit however they are comfortable. Many students take their tests outside in the shade of our almond trees.
Koryolan, our high-school social studies teacher, commented that at other schools, each student may be scheduled to take exams only one or two days this week, since there isn’t space for everyone to take their exams at once. The rest of the week, students sit at home. Here, since students are still in school each day, they have more time to prepare and study, and more time to reflect on their exams after they finish.
In secondary schools, Koryolan went on, many teachers just give the exams for their classes to the school principal and don’t bother to come to school at all. This means that students can’t ask questions to get any clarification during the tests. At LKM, teachers give the exams for their own subjects, so that students can ask their teachers to rephrase a question if there’s any ambiguity.
In fourth grade, today’s exams included drawing. Students were thrilled to show me some of their work.

October 2015 Update


Dear friends of Matènwa,

At MCLC, we strive to provide a well-rounded education to all students in a collaborative environment. In this spirit, the music teachers, Mr. Pierre Richard and Mr. Dieuseul Jean, asked the preschoolers to choose the instruments they would like to play this academic year. These teachers recognize that giving children choices increases their motivation and determination to learn. We look forward to seeing their performances during school assemblies.

After the Hands to Hearts’ 0-3 Development Training (Sponsored by Alliance For Children) our teachers realized how important it is to stimulate our youngest students’ brains. In this photo, Preschoolers are discussing their eggplants while their teacher is recording their observations for them.

Expanding the Hen Program3Untitled
In March 2014, we started a hen program at the school with the generous support of Greater Good. This has allowed us to include eggs in the school breakfast and lunch program, thus providing much-needed protein to our students. Ruthchina, one of our 9th graders, recently commented on the program’s success: “One thing that I noticed is that since I started to eat eggs regularly, I no longer have headaches. I use to have them frequently, but now I no longer do. It looks like I was not getting enough protein before.” To expand our efforts of improving nutrition in Matènwa, we are giving each student a local hen to take home. So far, we have distributed hens to the 9th through 11th graders, and will continue our distribution, going down a grade each week. Before each distribution, students are trained on how to care for their hens at home, and they will be reporting on their hens each week.

S is for Start: Rethinking Power in Matènwa
A few months ago, four MCLC staff received training in Beyond Border’s SASA! Rethinking Power program, which seeks to combat violence against women and girls and the resulting spread of HIV/AIDS. The team is now in the first of the four-phase implementation process in Matènwa. The Start phase involves learning about the community’s perceptions and beliefs about power and violence against women. In order to gather this information, the team has trained four other individuals to administer baseline assessment surveys and facilitate focus groups. In the near future, MCLC’s SASA! team will help implement the program in the communities of our school network and across Lagonav.

Training in the Institute of Learning
This year, MCLC is formalizing its training program by establishing an Institute of Learning, several senior staff members are now full time trainers. We can better respond to the increasing demand for training. We want to ensure a successful replication of our education model. In September, a new group of teachers from Macochon came for training. We also met with a staff from CARE, a humanitarian organization with several schools in Haiti. CARE recently expressed interest in having us train their teachers in Ansagalè and Pwentarakèt, Lagonav. and we are eager to engage the CARE teachers.

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

Helping Haitian Angels – Notes from Debbie 6/9/15

IMG_4989(After visiting Matènwa) We definitely had our challenges this year, our first year. We had to take field trips in small groups to the bathrooms as many
of the kids thought it was just fine to pee on the school! What a lesson that was!IMG_8241

Our teachers were a bit overwhelmed at first but it didn’t take them long to settle in and begin teaching.
We have our garden that the kids visit. We have musical instruments. We will work much more with both this coming year.
IMG_8242We are adding one pre-K class this year. That will take us to 105 kids in Pre-K to 6th grades.

I’m very proud of our teachers and all they’ve accomplished this year. I’m not an educator so have no experience here but it appears that they’ve
followed your methodology and embraced it fully.IMG_4976




IMG_4865They still need continuing education of course but they did an awesome job in their first year teaching.

They all look forward to visiting Matenwa and LaGonav again next month!


Helping Haitian Angels
Founder and Executive Director

Update from Meg – Making Maps – October 1, 2015

IMG_5808This past Saturday, we had our monthly workshop/training/meeting for LKM’s secondary-school teachers. Abner, the director and co-founder of LKM, invited me to lead a workshop on using maps in classrooms, which I had already led the week before for some of the teachers in LKM’s network of partner schools. It was a lot of fun. We used four maps, all in Kreyòl—a world map, a map of the continents, a map of Central America and the Caribbean, and a map of Lagonav—as well as an inflatable globe and a world atlas, which were both printed in English.
We started by spending some time just looking at the maps. Teachers were impressed and happy to see maps of the world in their native language, and eager to share them with students.
In a large-group discussion, one teacher asked how he could orient himself using the map of Lagonav, to figure out how to get to a given place. Others added that they didn’t have much experience with local maps, because there just aren’t very many. They were impressed that foreigners could use maps to get around Port-au-Prince, without needing to ask anyone directions, and they asked how they could learn to do the same.
Fortunately, the next activity in the workshop focused on this kind of map skills. Working together, teachers made a map of the gwo wonn, the big circular room where the workshop was taking place.
They came up with symbols for features of the room: blackboards, tables, benches, pillars, doors, and cabinets. Everyone had a lively discussion over what to put on the map and where to put it.
Then I chose a volunteer to walk around the gwo wonn and traced his path on the map as he walked.
(The text at the top of the board is our motto for the school year. It means “The goat with many owners gets everything it needs on time”—the goat is LKM, and we are all responsible for making sure it has what it needs.)
After this activity, the teachers were overflowing with mapping ideas. One suggested that we could have each student make a map of the area around his or her home. Another suggested that all the students could work together to create a map of LKM.
In the rest of the workshop, we talked some more about how to read maps and how they could be used in classes with subjects ranging from physics to literature. We did a demonstration with a globe showing why the seasons change as the earth moves around the sun, which was new to many of the teachers. The workshop ended with a geography trivia game using the world map.IMG_5810
Everyone seemed to come away from the workshop with new ideas. One teacher even planned to use the map of Lagonav to visit new parts of the island he hadn’t been before. The workshop was a great end to the week and I’m excited about what LKM will be able to do using maps.