School District Holds Productive Dialogue with Haitian Faith-Based Leaders

Faith-based leaders from the Haitian Community meet at the school districtPalm Beach County School District’s top administrators hosted a meeting last week with the Haitian community faith-based leaders about the education of the Haitian students and the need for involvement and mutual collaboration to provide them with support and for their academic achievement and professional success in their life.

The objective of the dialogue was to reinforce communications in order to work together to achieve the long-term goals of the District Strategic Plan, share responsibility, and find solutions that will impact positively Haitian students’ academic performance. School, home, the community, and all the congregations need to join forces to always to assure that each student reaches his/her potential.

“The academic data is not pretty for the Haitian students. We must do more to ensure that they perform to the best of their potential,” said Dr. David Christiansen, Deputy Superintendent of the School District.

Among the activities, the focus was on:
• Partnership identification and overall strengthening of collaboration
• Presentation of current academic performance of Haitian students and the District’s Strategic Plan Long-Term Goals for ALL students
• Recognition of the challenges and/or barriers faced by Haitian faith-based leaders, during their partnership with the District, as they optimize achievement for Haitian students

Dr. Eddie Ruiz, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services and Equity Access, said that the goal of the meeting is to familiarize religious leaders about the District’ administration and goals for students and especially for the Haitian students and garner support from the community. “We further want to create some action plan that we can share with our religious leaders to work with the families in the community,” he added.

Pastor Pierre Grégoire Saint-Louis, one of the participating pastors, said, “One thing I believe is that partnerships between schools and the community is valuable in order for our kids to succeed in the school system. We are determined after that meeting to implement the action plan and continue that relationship between our church and the District. ”

“We want to motivate the religious leaders to participate more in the process of education by creating a partnership with the district. These partnerships will bring support for student achievement,” said Dr. Aurora François the district administrator coordinating the event.
Many political leaders, elected officials, community activists, community organizations leaders, school administrators, and other education stakeholders participated in that dialogue and community media like 1340 AM/Radio Nouvelle Lumière and Détente Evangélique invested in a motivation campaign to make it happen.

One of the objectives stipulated in the District Strategic Plan is to “secure parent and community partnerships to support the academic and social/emotional development of all students.” All of the participants concluded that this is an objective that they need to fully support. The faith-based leaders left with a commitment form that is designed to serve as a tool to track students’ progress and weaknesses, keep in contact with the District and celebrate achievement.