Growth and Volunteerism at the Children’s Academy
June 15, 2013
The growth strategy for the Children’s Academy and Learning Center is to build up the school, class by class, until we arrive at a full K-12 school. In September of last year we began with our first preschool class of 25 wonderful 3 year olds. Now we’ve begun planning to introduce the 2nd preschool class for the fall of this year. While very exciting, this also presents challenges.
One of the challenges is caused by the fact that the Children’s Academy is not an ordinary Haitian school. The education is student-centered and loving, rather than marked by rote learning and corporal punishment – the traditional model in Haiti. It’s also explicitly interactive and engaged with the positive development of the community of which it is a part, something that is also rather unusual in Haiti.
Dealing with this effectively requires good communication with the community overall, though specifically with students’ parents. Here are some pictures of a meeting of all the parents whose children either currently go, or will be going, to the Children’s Academy. At this first meeting for new enrollees’ parents the school coordinators, Kerline and Alex – fixtures in the community at this point – hand out, explain, and talk with folks about an accord (based on the Children’s Academy brochure which you can view here) detailing the mission, vision, core values, philosophy, program goals and strategy of the school.
The accord also details parent responsibilities, including volunteering expectations. Parents of students at the Children’s Academy volunteer 4 hours each week throughout the school year. This year, their contribution included everything from planting in the garden, to widening the road in front of the school, to simply keeping the campus clean. Volunteerism is one important way that the Children’s Academy can encourage community members to invest in the development of their community, even if they don’t have the financial means to do so.
And we must say, this approach appears to be working. Though our plan was to add a class of 25 students each year, the demand was so strong after this first year that after careful consideration we’ve raised the class size to 30 so we can accommodate 60 instead of 50 students in the fall.
Thank you for your interest in and support for the Children’s Academy and Learning Center. We’re excited about what lies ahead!