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February 2015 Update

Dear friends of Matènwa,

image1We have some exciting new developments to share with you in this latest update.

MCLC has recently created an advisory committee in Haiti to advise the school on how to best tap into resources in-country. The committee members come from different walks of life and bring a unique set of skills and knowledge with them. (Left to right) Ernso Jean-Louis is a pastor and has a business helping small businesses grow, as well as running his Eucalyptus Guest House in Port-au-Prince. Freda Catheus has collaborated with MCLC since its inception and has extensive experience working in the field in adult literacy, women and child’s rights, and micro financing. Michaelle Auguste has worked for Teacher’s College, Hunter College and the New York Board of Education in Bilingual Education. She has written child and adult literacy programs for the Haitian Ministry of Education that MCLC staff use. Steven Werlin was Dean of Shimer College in Chicago and presently works at Fonkoze, a microcredit agency, while on leave in Haiti. He has done extensive work with MCLC on how to use Reflection Circles with students and teachers and the wider community. Caroline Hudicourt runs the Acacia school in Petion-Ville, and is the executive secretary of COSPE, a consortium of private schools in Haiti. Abner Sauveur and Chris Low are the co-founders of MCLC. Louis-Henry Mars runs a non-profit and works in conflict resolution.image2image3

Meeting our students’ needs
With the addition of a 10th grade class, we needed more space to accommodate the secondary students. Therefore, we have enlarged two classrooms below the library. We also added a porch for a Pre-K and First grade breakout space. We think these three first graders look pretty happy out there. Do you agree?image5image4

Cultivating and sharing our talents
At MCLC, we nurture the extra curricular interests and talents of our students. Some are really into sports and others into music or art. We provide students the opportunity to develop their skills. In music class, the kindergarteners love to sing and dance; the first and second graders love to play the conga; many of the olderimage6 image7students choose to play the guitar, drums, or keyboard. They all enjoy sharing what they have learned during school assemblies every Thursday. The preschoolers recently performed a dance routine at one of these assemblies and the 6th graders did a play on the importance of respecting other people’s belongings.

Using the gardens to teach and train
We work regularly in the school garden to ensure that there are enough vegetables throughout the year. Right now, we have cabbages and different types of peppers. Having a successful garden is important to us in at least three ways: 1) We always have some type of vegetables to serve the students in the school breakfast program; 2) Students can continue to do hands-on learning in the garden; and 3) We can demonstrate to the teachers who come from other schools for training how to create, maintain, and integrate a garden into their curriculum.



Spreading Across Haiti
Two groups of educators came to be trained this month for one week. Five people from the Central Plateau and Five people from Jacmel. We heard that the Director from Jacmel (center) reported to his sfunders from Community Coaltition of Haiti saying, “We are going to be the Matènwa of Jacmel!”image8

Learn Creole in Matènwa

Coming from New York City, Anisha just spent 3 weeks in Matènwa learning Creole before starting a new job in Port Au Prince. We will be posting her reflections soon!image12

Chris W. Low, Executive Director FOM
Ezner Angervil, Director MCLC

Opening Ceremony of the new Creole Academy in Haiti!

IMG_4227On December 4, 2014, we were proud to have Abner Sauveur,co founder and Educational director of Matenwa Community Learning Center (MCLC),participate in the opening ceremony of Haiti’s Creole Academy.Sauveur was invited by Michelle DeGraff, a Haitian born MIT linguist who has been pushing for the realization of a Creole Academy in Haiti.The MCLC is the concrete model of what is possible to achieve in countryside schools when they use their mother tongue, as the language of instruction. This Academy should bring more respect to the language. Michel DeGraff has been leading the data collection and evaluation of literacy rates in 5 pilot schools that are using MCLC’s Mother Tongue Books methodology. The results after 18 months of implementation are very encouraging. Linguist Yves DeJean has been pushing for Creole to be used as the language of educational instruction for decades.

At the same time, Matenwa’s work towards this cause was recognized on National Public Ratio. Click on the link below to listen to the podcast. I hope you will be inspired to be a contributor and join Friends of Matènwa to keep this vital program moving ahead in Haiti. It is an essential institute of learning for other school teachers across Haiti.

Mother Tongue Books have arrived!

Chris W. Low, Executive Director FOM

Chris W. Low, Executive Director FOM

Fifty Mother Tongue Books just published! Available for sale through

Happy New Year 2015

Dear friends of Matènwa,

Happy New Year 2015! The MCLC staff, parents, and students wish you a healthy, prosperous, and successful year.

image1Thanks to your support, the education of Haitian children has taken a new direction not only on Lagonav but in other parts of the country as well through MCLC. We see many positive changes in the schools that we have trained: the elimination of physical discipline and verbal abuse, the use of Creole as a language of instruction, time for silent reading and the valorization of agriculture through school gardens.

Celebrating Our Community

Once again our end-of-the year celebration was a great success. Parents, students, and staff gathered together to celebrate our image2community’s growth and accomplishments during the past year. Another important element of this celebration is recognizing the teachers for their great work. This year, the school acknowledged three teachers, Samila Edmond, Delson Engerville, and Viola Josue, for their high performance in the following categories: student learning, classroom management, and teacher attendance (never late or absent).

Fostering Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

image3Seventh through tenth grade students meet twice a week for the Reflection Circle program. During these meetings, students break into small groups to discuss a selected text, that usually has a moral dilemma. Then they come together in one large group to further share their questions and insights. Students really enjoy this program because the discussions challenge them to come up with questions for each other rather than the teacher questioning them. Since the questions are from the students, the students are invested in these peer discussions. Giving personal opinions and examples from their own lives, the students come to have a deeper understanding of themselves and each other. They learn to take their education into their own hands.

Thriving in the Garden

The school is proud to see its high schoolers still very image4interested in the garden and really valuing it. All year long students brought in natural fertilizers to help keep their garden of cabbages, peppers, tomatoes, and carrots thriving. The 10th graders took part in removing insects from the tomato beds. The 9th and 10th graders love writing time in the garden. When they go back into the classroom, they share their observations and reflections with each other and edit their work with the assistance of their teachers. All in all, students had a great 2014 and anticipate a 2015 filled with new learning adventures.

Chris W. Low, Executive Director FOM
Ezner Angervil, Director MCLC

Community Coalition for Haiti

Emelie Parker’s observational notes of the Matènwa Community School. Winter 2014
IMG_0871Things we learned from interviews or observed in general are:
Joyful teaching joyful learning
It was so so so wonderful.
Matènwa is everything I had hoped for and so much more.
In the Classroom
Children lead the opening of day with flag ceremony and drums.
We saw integrated learning through math, reading, writing and science with the garden and with music. Science journals were kept with drawing and words from seeds to harvest and weighing and measuring IMG_0890 Emilie in garden
Lots of leadership opportunities for 6th graders with responsibilities at opening of the day—principal or teachers also give announcements and encouragement/challenge for the day.
Homework: first grade on up had homework; one teacher assigned the children to write and draw a story on folded paper that was a booklet.Ekri nan jaden 1
There was uniformity of the day/expectations across the school. It all started with silent reading and discussion of what they had read; responsive classroom type discussion of what went well the day before and what didn’t go well; whole group lessons; small group work and independent work;
A song is often used to move from one subject to another.
Enthusiastic, energetic excited learning is accepted and encouraged…acceptable level of noise. Lots of laughter and talk
Part of morning meeting and end of day closure meeting is reflection and goal setting. We saw this everywhere! Even at the Thursday assembly students were asked what had gone well or what had not gone so well in their classrooms. Lots of reflection and goal setting all day long.
Each day’s schedule was posted on laminated paper and referred to by the teacher or students. photo 1
We saw that the beginning stages of conflict resolution have been taught.
Silent reading by the students and teacher is in every room always at the start of the day. Books are collected and handed out the next day. It was child chosen books.
We loved watching math manipulative and purposeful learning, for example: use of pattern blocks for study of shapes; measuring room one day and determining perimeter and area the next day; formulas on board and students wrote formula down before the solution; students brought answers back to whole group and shared
We saw the finished Mother Tongue Books that are used in the classrooms for reading. There is a committee that meets to decide which of the many stories will be made into laminated books.
The Arts: basket weavings, furniture making, drawing, painting, loom weaving, music, and physical education.
Furniture and baskets are used in the schools as well as sold to other schools for their use. Beautiful crafted work.
There were eight regular teachers; three assistent teachers; seven specialists; five management – Ezner the Director; Feronel the treasurer, Abner Director of Outreach, Roseline the secretary and Joelle school administrator and liaison; 24-7 security people (one for day and one for night) and the cooking staff is contracted out. There also is a two woman business for selling the rice, beans etc.

The Directors were very active – walking around school, in classes, picking up trash, counseling students, encouraging, holding up very high standards, checking to see if daily schedule was posted.


Four teachers from Jacmel

Four teachers from Jacmel

Teachers spend a lot of time interacting with children during class walking around and checking work, patting their heads, joking and smiling. We saw acceptance of each child and where they were academically; no put downs. Physical touch, eye contact and focused attention
Anything a child can do is done by a child. You can tell they have spent a great deal of thought on the routines of the day and what a child can be taught to do is not done by the teachers.
Teachers have not been to normal school. They are trained there at the school. Some teachers have been there since the beginning; some went to school there; some get to go every year to US for a couple of weeks for training..
There was very little down time by teachers and students. The teachers are provisioned and ready with each lesson. The children know the routines of where the supplies are and the routine of the lessons. No wasted time looking for pencils, paper or writing things on the 3
Fun outside
Recess was fun to watch: soccer, a circle game, some reading in the library, some chit chatting, some playing chase, jump rope, dominos in the classroom with their teachers; some staying in class writing in their books or reading. The children lined up again to come in for recess. Teachers were monitoring recess.
Organic Gardening and Breakfast Program
Breakfast in the morning and almost all children were there on time to get it
Organic gardening by all grades with compost BeetsIMG_0913
We saw large chicken coops with expectation that children in older grades are to eat one egg a day.
Taking Responsibilty
Students’ responsibilities all day everywhere: for example cleaning the rooms/setting up the rooms before and after school; passing out pencils and books/ calendar work/attendance/keeping track of who borrowed pencils/drumming/ helping with hand washing for little ones etc.
photo 4Teachers’ responsibilities: come to school at 7:30 and write morning message on the board and prepare for the day; put lessons on the board (for example, the math word problems were written) most teachers went to specials with the children and participated in the special. If they don’t go to specials they are to go observe other teachers teach; come to trainings; extra tutoringphoto 5
Parents’ responsibilities: children come on time and with clean clothes; make sure they get homework done; find someone in neighborhood who can help child with homework if they need help; pay 600 goudes for the year; come to first Thursday in the month meeting at 12:30, if there is a serious discipline problem a letter is sent to the parents and the parent comes to the school
Children without parents live with other families. No orphanages at Matènwa but there are a couple on the island.
Children pay 600 goudes a year.

photo 2I taught stand up, hand up, pair up and quiz quiz trade because they wanted different ways to review. I explained to Joelle how they can use “hand up pair up” for teacher directed questions also.
I also taught how to use Bannagrams in different ways. Chris Low had asked me to do this.

Garden School at Trouin

After educators from Trouin came for a week long training they return to their school very motivated to integrate gardening into their curriculum. They shared these pictures and exclaimed, “We are going to make a garden better than Matènwa’s!” Now that is the healthy competitive spirit that we were hoping for. There are sparks of our work lighting up in every direction around Haiti. This map shows where teachers have come from this past year on the mainland to be trained.

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Photos of the garden school at St. Marc’s School,Trouin, Haiti with Frantzcin Avril, a teacher at St Marc’s school who helps the students in the garden.Frantzcin Avril