Let’s Talk Curriculum!

Redesigning the curriculum for our students every year is a challenge! Part of our goal is to provide a world-class education, and in order to do so, we have been creating our own curriculum from scratch. Our curriculum is a huge step towards quality education in Haiti!

In Haiti, around 60% of kids abandon school before the sixth grade. Almost all schools charge tuition, and added to the costs of uniforms and books, this keeps many families out of schools. Schools are also taught almost entirely in French, when most Haitians grow up speaking Creole. This makes education nearly impossible for those who don’t already know French. Our goal is to make a school where kids come to truly learn. While we had covered tuition and other costs for our students, there was still the issue of finding the right material in the right language to teach. TJS had previously been using the best of Haitian curriculum, but we found that it didn’t meet the standard of the world class education we wanted to provide. There was little to no material in Creole like we needed, and the curriculum is heavily memorization based. In 2017, we began the process of creating a whole new revolutionary curriculum for our students.

Lead by our education direction Katie Martin, we began designing our own curriculum for our students. We collaborated with our Haitian teachers to see where the best educational material in Haiti is coming from. After getting access to the limited material in Creole, we then starting slowly bringing material from around the world and combining it with our Haitian material. We took the best educational tools we could find from not only Haiti, but the US, Canada, and France. It is very important to us that we teach our students in the language they know best, so we carefully translate everything so that their education has a base in Creole. Once we have written the textbooks, we print copies in Haiti through local companies.

We assemble our curriculum based on our core educational themes: academics leadership, service, languages, Haitian culture & history, and discipleship. Our kids are engaged in classes like math, science, history and geography, but also in civics and biblical discipleship. We are also focused on teaching our students the languages they will need to be be be successful leaders. Our students learn Creole, French, and English, and will be fluent in all three before they graduate. We conduct regular testing every nine weeks, so that we know the students are keeping up with everything they should have learned.

We want our students to not only have the best Haitian education possible , but to compete on a global basis. Our students have already been testing, on average, much higher than other schools in the area. We will continue to update and change our curriculum as needed to guarantee that our students have the best education possible. Education changes everything, and by providing a world-class education to these children today, we are changing the future of Haiti’s tomorrow.


Summer Meals Program

School is out for the summer, and we’ve restarted our Summer Meals program!


This program is designed to make sure our kids are staying healthy ands getting enough to eat over the summer. As you may know, during the school year we feed all our students two nutritious meals a day! However, in our first year of operating, we noticed that many of our kids had lost weight over the summer from being underfed or not having enough key nutrients. In Haiti, one in five children are chronically malnourished. The Joseph School knows that a hungry child can not learn.

The Threat of Malnutrition:

Malnutrition at a young age can lead to serious problems later on in life. When three out of four Haitians live in poverty, this becomes a serious threat to the children of Haiti.

“Severe malnutrition suffered in the first two years of life in Haiti has resulted in irreversible physical and mental disabilities and depressed immune systems, making children more susceptible to contracting diseases and increasing the probability of childhood death. Malnutrition at an early age leads to reduced physical and mental development for a person’s entire life. “
-Meds and Food for Kids

What We’re Doing:

To fight malnutrition, we started a summer program to ensure that our students would receive enough nutrition over the summer. We evaluate the students before school is out to see who is at risk for malnutrition. Then, we make bi-weekly visits to drop off Vita Mamba supplements to them and their families.

Vita Mamba is a ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF) that is designed specifically for kids at risk of malnutrition. It has been declared the “gold standard” in combating malnutrition by the World Health Organization. Vita Mamba is a peanut, milk and soy based paste, fortified with vitamins and minerals, including zinc, iron, iodine and vitamins A and B12. It also provides a source of energy, protein and essential fatty acids. A regular supply of this keeps students from losing weight or becoming malnourished over the summer. This keeps our students healthy year-round!

Results:

This year, we have 53 students at risk (many from our youngest and first year class). This is the largest number of students we’ve ever had in need; however, we’ve already seen tremendous growth from the previous years of this program.

Our previous at-risk students did not lose weight, but actually grew at a normal rate over the summer. Therefore, we’re confident it will be the same for our current 53 children. After all, healthy bodies build healthy minds!

If you would like updates on how our students are doing, follow us on social media!


An Innovative Investment: The Solo Bag

We are thrilled to announce that The Joseph School will be providing Solo Bags to our students and staff! The Solo Bag is an innovative backpack designed for students without reliable access to electricity. The bag charges a reading light using solar power, so students can safely and easily study at night.

The Solo Bag was created by Haitian Entrepreneurs Mike Bellot and Torcel (Wendy) Wendianne. Bellot became determined to address Haiti’s energy crisis after the loss of his cousin in a tragic accident. Bellott’s cousin had been studying late at night when the candle he was using to study caught his house on fire, and he could not make it out in time. After this loss, Bellot became determined to make safe energy more accessible to Haitians.

In Haiti, only about 37% of the country has access to regular electricity. Electricity, when available, also represents a huge costs to families. Our student’s families, many of which live on less than two dollars per day, would have to spend 30% of their income just to charge their cell phone. Buying kerosene for lightning at night is also costly and comes with negative health affects, and using candle light can quickly become dangerous. To solve this problem and to make safe, clean energy accessible to low income Haitians, Bellot and Wendianne created the Solo Bag.

 

The Solo Bag is a school bag embedded with a solar panel which absorbs sunlight during daytime, The energy is stored in a battery bank that emits eco-friendly and sustainable light at night.  A student could then use the light to study or do their homework at night. Solo Bags can safely illuminate a room for up to six hours.  There are USB ports in the battery, which allow the user to charge their cell phone. The bags are also equipped with a GPS tracker in case they are lost. Bellot hopes that his invention will not only benefit the 63% of Haitians without electricity, but also the 1.2 billion people worldwide who don’t have access to electric power.

The Jospeh School is investing in the Solo Bag for all our students and staff starting this fall. Since we know most of our students do not have access to regular electricity, we truly believe this will help our students be safer and more successful. We are also proud to be supporting Haitian entrepreneurs as they build a better future for their country! Stay tuned to see our students receiving their very own Solo Bag this fall!


Oh How We’ve Grown: Time for New Uniforms

It’s time for us to start making uniforms again!

During the summer, we start to prepare for the next school year, and that includes making more uniforms! Our uniforms have changed a lot since The Joseph School started. We went from a simple white polo and khakis to a more functional, full khaki uniform for all our students. We provide shirts, skirts, shorts, and new shoes and socks to all of our students.

Our 2015 Uniforms / Our Current Uniforms

As some of you may know, we transitioned last year to having our uniforms entirely made in Haiti! Not only does that reduce costs of overseas shipping, but it also creates well-paying jobs in our community for Haitians. Most Haitians live on less than two dollars a day, so providing uniforms not only makes education much more accessible for families, but hiring Haitians to make uniforms is an opportunity to give back to the community.

We want to thank our generous sponsors who have quite literally put the clothes on our students’s backs, and who have made it possible for us to provide uniforms! However, we are approaching the end of the school year, and are preparing to welcome a new class of 33 students (who do not have sponsors). Having new students and students who are growing means we are in need of more uniforms!

If you would like to support our uniform campaign, click here. Any gift helps! 


End of the School Year

The school year is ending, and we at TJS would like to take a minute to reflect on all we have accomplished.

This year, we have had many struggles and difficulties relating to the political unrest in Haiti. Despite the challenges we face, we know that conditions like these are the reason The Jospeh School exists. We truly believe that leadership changes everything, and that by teaching these children today, we can change a country tomorrow. Here, we are building leaders who love without discrimination, who know the importance of fraternity and justice, and who are reflections of Jesus’s love wherever they go. We are here to help build the future, and the events of the year have only proved the need for programs like The Jospeh School.

Regardless of the circumstances, we are so proud of our students as they finish out the school year. We have had the privilege to watch as they have grown in mind, body, and spirit. Our students have worked incredibly hard to learn more about the world around them, and as they learn and grow, they get ready to enter the world and inspire change.  We do not prepare students just for exams, but for the life they are called to lead as Christians and as Haitian citizens.

Although it is difficult to see today, there is a bright future waiting in Haiti. Our job is to support students while they create the future waiting for them. As our students succeed more and more, we are so excited to see the world they are going to build.

Check out their end of the year class photos below —

The Joseph School 2018-2019 Fourth Graders
The Joseph School 2018-2019 Third Graders
The Joseph School 2018-2019 Third Graders
The Joseph School 2018-2019 Second Graders
The Joseph School 2018-2019 Second Graders
The Joseph School 2018-2019 First Graders

 

 

 


Intern Spotlight: Meet Lilly

The Joseph School has a new intern at the Nashville offices! Lilly Roberson is our communications intern. She will be working on social media, public relations, and content marketing during the eight weeks that she is here.

Lilly grew up here in Nashville, and is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is studying nonprofit management and minoring in gender studies and international relations. She has previously volunteered with The Jospeh School during the summers of 2016 and 2017. Lilly is is so excited to be working with TJS again!


Called to Lead

The Joseph School Staff, Teacher, Translators with Tim & Ryan

On April 19th and 20th, our Haitian teachers and operation staff participated in a leadership conference led by Tim Urmston (our newest board member) and Ryan Thomas. These two incredible men used the key concepts from Five Capitals to teach our staff about perspective and priorities and how it relates to success.

The first session led by Tim, covered values and vision as he introduced the five capitals. He spoke on finding your identity and what the future looks like for you. He had each staff member write down a vision statement for their life and five values they have that will help them get there. He then encouraged them to write down tactics in order to make their vision achievable.

Ryan’s second session, the most valuable of all the capitals, centered around spiritual capital, their purpose and the “why” that drives them in life. As a leadership school, this topic was very helpful for our staff. They received tips on building their relationship with a higher power, and how their life [can / does] influence the lives of others.

The rest of the sessions focused specifically on one of the five capitals (guideposts to live your life) in order of priority. These include relational capital, physical capital, intellectual capital, and financial capital.

The two-day training was not only informational for our staff, but life changing. They were very active and eager to learn about how they can thrive in life. It is easy to feel discouraged in Haiti, but it’s all about perspective. We’re thankful for the staff we have in Haiti and the outlook and hope they have. We believe they will take these concepts and not only apply them to their own lives, but also teach others.

“Leadership changes everything.”

Katie [TJS Education Coordinator] Nadia [TJS 1st Grade Teacher], Tim, Ryan, and Dallen [TJS Principal] 

We’re also very grateful for Tim and Ryan traveling to Haiti to spend time with, and further equip our staff.  To learn more about the Five Capitals, please visit https://fivecapitals.net/.


Walking with Humility

Reflections from guest blogger, Katie Greene, 20|20 Research

Katie (pictured left) with fellow 20|20 peers

Many of us have heard it before. This time, I heard it outside The Joseph School, told by the one and only Jim Bryson with a couple of fellow market research comrades as we were getting ready to eat our breakfast. It’s the story of the girl who walks along a beach flinging starfish into the ocean, one by one so they do not dry out in the sun. When chastised by a passerby as to what difference it might make, she simply retorts, “It makes a difference to this one.” and proceeds down the coastline, unphased.

Taking this approach to serving a population in Haiti is no different. As a grad student in Public Health, while managing my duties as a Research Manager at 20|20, it is easy to walk through the world overwhelmed, seeing so many unmet needs. For instance, I could post a picture of the roadside in Port Au Prince and point out issues of sanitation and clean water, air pollution, personal hygiene, access to maternal and child health, food safety, infectious disease and more within a simple picture frame. So yes, some days, it’s downright discouraging. There are so many starfish to throw back into the ocean.

But, this time, in Haiti, Jim told the story with conviction. He greeted every child, one by one, as they hopped off the school bus for their day of learning at TJS. They all ran off toward the building, beaming. In their morning program, they too spoke and sang with confidence about being free to live and learn. You see, TJS may not be able to educate every child in Haiti, but to these 119, this school matters, more than anything in the world.

Their principal approaches every day as if the future President of Haiti is in her school. She not only wants them to be strong academically but to walk with humility and cultural awareness, and it shows. They are respectful of their teachers and peers, will tell you hello in three languages, and will shove their breakfast crackers in your face because they are just so happy to have something that is theirs to offer the world.

TJS Principal, Dallen (yellow) discussing the importance of The Joseph School to the team 

So, as I began to process the starfish story again, it carried weight and meaning this time around. I saw what the good faith and works of countless people could make happen and be a positive, sustainable change for generations to come. And for a person who dreams of saving the world one day, to be able to pick up trash with the founder of your company who just also happens to have planted the seed for TJS, is a pretty incredible reminder that I too can throw my proverbial starfish in the sea if only I am willing to walk humbly and persistently down the shoreline.

To those of you who have already supported TJS, I can assure you that you are helping to create sustainable, long-term change by facilitating an environment where Haitian citizens can begin to develop the tools and resources to take care of each other. For those of you who maybe haven’t yet– think on it. You too can help throw starfish back into the water.

Katie’s Image

Healthy Bodies for Healthy Minds

A Reflection from guest blogger, Ashley Gibson, RN, MSN

What a week. I believe that could be said from all five of us who just returned from a week long medical mission trip to Haiti.

A team of five women, our fearless leader Terrell Smith, ER Doctor Susan,
Dermatologist Audrey, Pharmacist Cindy, and Nurse Ashley arrived Super Bowl Sunday (February 3rd) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti airport ready to serve the children of the Joseph School and the community of Cabaret.

Audrey Kunin, Guetcheen (Haitian Medical student), Cindy Franklin, 
Susan Taylor, Terrell Smith and Ashley Gibson
Audrey Kunin, Guetcheen (Haitian Medical student), Cindy Franklin,
Susan Taylor, Terrell Smith and Ashley Gibson

Our first stop was to the Joseph School to drop supplies and organize our plan for the week. All five of our medical bags passed customs and we were able to get things set up thanks to the help of Bildad, [Director of Operation],  and the TJS team.

Cindy Franklin with the groups supplies
Cindy with the groups supplies

We spent the first two days of our trip performing physical exams on all 119 children of The Joseph School. We treated tinea capitis (ringworm of the head) by having a hair washing station at the end of the day. The kids had a
blast with it, and I’m sure enjoyed the cool water on a hot afternoon.

Due to the massive amounts of dust it isn’t uncommon for dry eyes and clogged ears. Several of the children had cerumen impaction
which could potentially affect hearing, resulting in possibility of poor school performance. On the third day while the teachers and staff at the school were being assessed, several of the children underwent
ear irrigation to help eliminate the impaction resulting in smiles and appreciation!

The Joseph School
TJS students happily waiting to be assessed by the medical team

Our third day was spent assessing the children’s’ family members, many who came with the children to school that day as well as several of the local community members. All in all we were able to assess and
treat over 200 persons during our time in Cabaret. 

Young child being assessed by 
Susan, an ER doctor, and Guetcheen, a Haitian medical student
Young child (not a TJS student) being assessed by
Susan, an ER doctor, and Guetcheen, a Haitian medical student

We had plans to assess more community members Thursday of our trip, as well as pay a visit to the Orphanage where some of TJS’s students live; however, we experienced a country-wide lock down instead.

Thankfully, the TJS team made sure we, the students, and the staff were all safe. Due to the civil unrest, we arrived back in the states a day early, but I can not wait to return.

I’m sure the rest of the ladies would say the same. Until next time Haiti <3


Inspired by The Joseph School

Reflections from guest blogger,  Emily Koenig Hapka, Quirk’s Marketing Research Media

On January 24, I was fortunate enough to travel with a group of marketing researchers with the Marketing Research Education Foundation (MREF), an organization that brings the MR community together to focus resources on educating children worldwide, on a vision trip to Haiti. Our destination: the Joseph School in Cabaret, Haiti.

Guest blogger, Emily, is pictured right between The Joseph School hands! 

Two years ago Steve Quirk (my boss) visited the Joseph School on a similar trip. When he returned he talked about the engaged students, passionate teachers and unique mission of the school: to create the next generation of Haitian leaders. I was impressed with the Joseph School’s recognition that the best people to change Haiti will come from Haiti. It is an essential principle often disregarded by even the most well-meaning philanthropic groups. So when Steve asked me if I would like the opportunity to visit the school my response was an immediate yes!

The Journey

My journey to the Joseph School began in the Atlanta airport, where I met the majority of our group. Marketing researchers from all walks of life flew in from around the U.S. (and the world!) to experience this vision trip.

By the time we landed in Haiti I was full of energy and anticipation. We boarded the school bus and I slowly took in the heat (I left frigid Minnesota temps the day before), smell and color of Haiti.

The next few hours were a blur as we got to know each other and made plans for the next day. We were getting up at the crack of dawn so we could arrive at the school before the students.

The School

Our first morning in Haiti was beautiful. It was warm but not humid, and as the sun came up it highlighted the green vegetation and the colorful buildings. Our group was sleepy but excited as we boarded the bus and made the bumpy trek to the school, passing the packed children’s school bus on the way!

We arrived at the school a few minutes before the children and had a chance to look around the classrooms. The rooms were set up similarly to some of the small-town classrooms I attended back in Minnesota: desks facing each other; white boards and children’s school work on the walls; book shelves with lesson materials; a teacher’s desk near the front. I later learned that this is a very unique set up in Haiti as most schools work on the premise of pure memorization, cramming students into classrooms on rows of wooden benches.

At the school we experienced the opening ceremony, played with the children, served them breakfast and lunch, and watched a student soccer game. My favorite part was sitting and painting the girl’s nails while watching the game. I was impressed by how friendly and respectful the children were. Despite their poverty, they seemed happy and full of purpose. We also picked up trash around the property and learned more about the school from Jonaé Shaw, director of engagement for the Joseph School.

Changing the future of Haiti

When Bildad, the director of operations, led the opening ceremony for the students, he called each one of the students princes and princesses, reminding them of their potential. When I spoke to him later I learned that he and his brother taught their mother to read and write after school as children. Bildad said, “I want more girls at the school because each one reminds me of my mother.” Hearing this brought tears to my eyes and inspired my soul.

There is so much more I could say about my trip to Haiti but instead I’m going to encourage you to visit the Joseph School to see for yourself the amazing work being done. I know that my trip to Haiti won’t change the country but I truly believe the combined effort of everyone who
participates in the Joseph School’s mission will.