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Thursday, May 12, 2011


SEVERAL PEOPLE from Central New York, among them (from left) Marilyn Cornell, Stefan Merchant, Karen Dross and Scott Manuel, teach basic English to a group of Haitians in the village of Dubre. The English classes were part of the CNY Alliance for Haitis work to improve the childhood education and adult literacy in the area.

Provided photo

Teachers hold courses in basic English and teacher workshops in Haiti

By Lorenzo Arguello
Contributing writer

On A Mission
student learning is based on memorization instead of comprehension, and thats a problem, said Georgette Schmidt, a retired Jamesville-Dewitt High School French teacher who went on the trip. But the quality of teaching is improving there, Schmidt said. This was Schmidts third trip to Haiti. During her previous visits, she was the only one who spoke French, Haitis official language, so the groups work was difficult, she said. This year, she invited fellow retired Jamesville-Dewitt French teacher Scott Manuel to come. Along with leading some of the teacher workshops, Manuel also taught hour-long English courses to 20 people ranging in age from 10 to 60. He was really encouraged with their enthusiasm, he said.

A group of Central New Yorkers recently spent six days on a mission trip in Haiti. The Cayuga/Syracuse Presbyterian Educational Mission and Ministry Team, which returned in April, spent a week conducting teacher workshops and basic English courses in the villages of Dubre and Thibeau, north of the capital Portau-Prince. The majority of the teams work involved helping 15 teachers at St. James, a Catholic elementary school in Dubre, develop lesson plans to improve student comprehension and critical thinking. St. James has about 280 students enrolled between pre-kindergarten and sixth grade. Most of the teachers at St. James have no more than an early high school education, so

to more than 200 students every day, the school has no running water and must collect 4 Bob Hood, St. James Catholic Church, Cazenovia, a retired fresh water from a nearby commercial realtor & developer. 4 Scott Manuel, United Church of Fayetteville, a retired well. Jamesville- DeWitt French teacher Another issue is that many 4 Georgette Schmidt, Park Central Presbyterian Church, a of the children speak Creole retired Jamesville-DeWitt French teacher and very little, if any, French, 4 Harry Dross, Park Central Presbyterian Church, a retired yet they must pass an exam in special education teacher from the Syracuse City School District French after sixth grade if they 4 Karen Dross, Park Central Presbyterian Church, a retired wish to attend high school, math teacher from the Syracuse City School District Schmidt said. 4 Stefan Merchant, Park Central Presbyterian Church, a Baker Schmidt is in the process of High School senior from Baldwinsville. learning Creole and wants to 4 Marilyn Cornell, Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church, a retired keep going to Haiti to help elementary teacher from the Syracuse School District teachers and students so that 4 Wynetta Devore, Park Central Presbyterian Church, retired more children are able to conSyracuse University professor of social work. tinue their education, she said. As for Manuel, he was glad They wanted more, Man- The organization has worked uel said. It was lovely. closely with the school in Haiti to act as a facilitator for many people in need, he said. The group that went on the for a number of years, providTheres a lot of people ing funds for a playground and trip is part of the Central New down there who need help, but numerous other projects. York Alliance for Haiti. The they need to do it at their own organization also includes Next on the organizations pace, Manuel said. Eastern Hills Bible Church in agenda is helping install a Contact Lorenzo Arguello at Manlius and St. James Roman water system in the school. 470-2259 or at larguello@syracuse.com. Catholic Church in Cazenovia. Despite having to feed lunch

Who went