On January 12, 2010, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti and called attention to the economic crisis enveloping the third-world country. Following this disaster, a few members of Nashville’s First Baptist Church traveled to Haiti to assist with the orphan crisis. Jim Bryson, one of the travelers, was particularly inspired by his trip– so much so that he returned to the States with a dream of opening a school, as he found that education was the key to improving Haiti’s economy. Soon after, The Joseph School was born thanks to Jim’s vision, an incredible founding Board and Haitian leaders.
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On January 12, 2010, Haiti was rocked by a devastating earthquake killing over 250,000 people and creating thousands of orphans. In April 2010, Nashville First Baptist Church sent Jim Bryson and two others to scout opportunities to assist with the Haitian orphan crisis.
During this trip, Jim became convinced that education was the long term solution to so many of Haiti’s problems. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Plus, 85% of Haitian schools are private requiring payment for tuition, books and uniforms. The combination of widespread poverty and inaccessible schools means that 50% of Haitian children do not attend school. Of those who do, 60% do not make it to the 6th grade. Only a very few complete high school (USAID, 2016.)
In the fall of 2010, Joseph School (TJS) was born specifically to provide a world-class education along with leadership training to raise a generation of leaders capable of solving the long-term problems of their country. The school has a firm commitment to teaching academics, leadership skills, service and language proficiency. These subjects are wrapped in a deep commitment to a personal relationship with Jesus and celebrating Haitian history and culture.
Late in 2011, The Joseph School gained its 501(c)3 status in the U.S. and began getting established in Haiti. Over the next few years, there were many steps forward and many setbacks. However, the Board was committed to the vision and the call of God on their lives and this project. In January 2014, La Fondation Joseph School was established in Haiti for legal credibility and to ensure our Haitian staff would have the opportunity to experience educational and professional opportunities around the world.
In May, 2015, the Board of Directors commissioned Bildad Michel, a Haitian native, to spend the summer in Haiti finalizing the logistics of opening a school. Michel did an amazing job, and on August 8th, the Board unanimously voted to open the
On September 21, 2015, The Joseph School opened with 30 first grade students and five Haitian staff members operating in rented two-story house. Along with educating its first generation of students, TJS began leading mission trips to address the economic needs of its community. Within a year of impact (August 2016), the Haitian Government gifted TJS with 70 acres of land to expand its school and community efforts.
After receiving the land, TJS began constructing its first phase of a permanent campus, which included a gated wall and six-classroom building for grades first through third. In January 2018, The Joseph School student body — then composed of 90 students, 33 Haitian staff and two U.S. staff members — moved to the new campus.
In August 2018, The Joseph School launched The Build The Future Campaign to continue the work and vision of adding 30 students each year, taking them through Philo (equivalent to a standard HS diploma) while also developing servant leaders for Haiti’s future.
The Joseph School is planning to access new students in June 2020, bringing the total student body to 180 students (grades first through sixth) in September 2020.