Dancing to the Beat of Our Own Drum (International Song and Dance Day)

“The beat of the drum resonates from the soul of the Haitian people and is expressed through movement. Haitian dance has its roots in Africa and tells stories of important life events, invokes spirits, and promotes fellowship among those in earshot of the sounds.”

Music is a unifying force across each culture and country around the world. This is no different in the diverse and vibrant country of Haiti!


The Kompa is a popular form of song and dance in Haiti, which originated, in part, from Spanish Meringue. “Kompa adopted its moniker from the Spanish word “compás,” which means “rhythm” or “measure,” as in a musical measure or bar.” This form of dance takes influences from jazz, with big band brass instruments accompanying Haitian rhythms of drums or bongos. The particular variety of music originated with Jean-Baptiste and his band during the 1950s. Since that time, it has become almost synonymous with Haitian music.

TJS students perform at the annual culture day

Music in the Classroom

The Joseph School is built on six fundamental pillars of education, one of which is celebrating Haitian culture and history through its curriculum. It would be a disservice to the students to exclude the rich tradition of music from their schooling, which is why a foot-tapping tune can frequently be heard across The Joseph School campus. 

Music has long been associated with increased retention for lessons in school. TJS builds on this and specifically incorporates music into its learning modules. This method has been so successful, even our professional development partners at P4H have incorporated music into their teachings. Music was a strong part of the lessons P4H taught during our three-year partnership with its organization.

TJS Teachers join in song during a P4H training lesson 

Music at TJS

Aside from the benefits music has on learning, it’s also a whole lot of fun! The Joseph School holds a play day each year, which is similar to an American school’s field day. The students participate in outdoor games such as sack races, tag, and, at TJS, dancing! Each classroom (roughly 15 – 18 students) composes a dance routine and performs in a competition on play day. The teachers of each grade plan most of the choreography, but in the older grades some of the students collaborate to create a joint routine. After each grade performs, the entire student body votes on which performance was the best.

TJS students perform at the holiday party

Similarly, each grade performs a song or dance at the annual Christmas party. It is common for American schools to have a sing-a-long performance for the students around the holiday season, but at The Joseph School a specific emphasis on dance is also included in the program.

We hope you enjoyed this small glimpse at some of the incredible traditions of Haitian culture celebrated at The Joseph School!


In Their Words

The Joseph School strives to educate students in Haiti and provide a foundation for a successful future- but why hear it from us? Hear from some of our 7th grade students on their personal experiences at The Joseph School in this month’s interview blog!



Chrislor in 2015 (left) and 2022 (right)

Q: What do you want to do when you grow up?
A: [I want to be an] engineer [because] it’s great when you’re watching a house being built.

Q: How has The Joseph School prepared you for this?
A: The school can help me become an engineer in learning geometry and much more


Q: What is your proudest moment in school?
A: [I feel my proudest in math and French classes.]

Q: Who is someone at TJS that you look up to?
A: I admire Mr. Elusma the most for the joy he puts into his work and the joy he brings to our hearts.

Q: What is your favorite thing about attending TJS?
A: I love everything in school, the activities, everything completely.

Q: What makes you excited about coming to school every day?
A: The way the teachers are always working and because I always find my friends to tell jokes.


Elysha in 2015 (left) and 2022 (right)

Q: What do you want to do when you grow up?
A: I would like to be a great doctor in the world.

Q: How has The Joseph School prepared you for this?
A: The school can help me learn everything related to medicine, such as biology.

Q: What is your proudest moment in school?
A: I feel proud when teachers are teaching classes.

Q: Who is someone at TJS that you look up to?
A: Throughout the school I admire the physics and math teacher.

Q: What is your favorite thing about attending TJS?
A: [The lessons the teachers use in the classroom.]

Q: What makes you excited about coming to school every day?
A: [I am] motivated to come to school so that I can learn and prepare for anything.

An Interview with TJS Principal Madame Rose

Madame Rose, TJS Principal

In honor of Women’s History Month, The Joseph School is proud to feature an interview with the one and only Madame Rose, principal of The Joseph School. We are thrilled to share a closer look at the woman who leads TJS each and every day!

Madame Rose with Hans

Q: How did you get started at The Joseph School?

A: I joined TJS thanks to a friend. When M. Bildad told us about the project I was really happy even without knowing how much money I would receive. It was one of my dreams to start with a group of children and evolve alongside them through the years. I take this work to heart because I love teaching. I started in September 2015 as a teacher, a year after that I became the school’s guidance counselor where I spent three years in that position. Currently, I have been a principal for 3 years, it is not an easy job but with love and respect I will continue to work to create a school I am proud of.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of working with young students?

A: What rewards me for working with young people is my pride in developing children who are successful, and grow up as responsible [young adults].

Q: What makes The Joseph School special?

A: TJS is a special school in the way we mentor children: we provide help, two meals a day and TJS gives teachers the opportunity to continue learning and training sessions. Students not only evolve in an academic environment but also grow socially.

Madame Rose and Menchica

Q: What do you hope to inspire a TJS student to achieve?

Madame Rose and TJS Students Rachel, Fritzlande, & Gina (left to right)

A: My biggest dream for TJS students is to prepare them to be the creators, producers and learners to solve problems instead of creating problems in society. It is always good to learn and to have a degree, but to produce and bring solutions to problems is why we have good leaders for tomorrow.

Q: What is your favorite part of TJS?

A: As the director of TJS, I love my relationship with the children. In many schools in Haiti, the director is a person who stays in the office ordering. For me it is the opposite, the kids feel comfortable to speak and play with me so I am a counselor for them. I always talk to the older kids. Not only am I a leader but I am also a friend and family to students.

Q: What do you like to do outside of your role at TJS?

A: Outside of my role at TJS, I love photography! I enjoy taking pictures of my kids, especially when they are having fun.

Madame Rose and Husband (Zachée Osnacle) and Daughter (Lynn Zarah Maïza Osnacle)