Starting this week, older elementary students have been reading with younger ones at LKM once a week in our new Reading Buddies program. This program is a natural fit for Lagonav, where older and younger children often gravitate toward each other in play and learning. For Reading Buddies, students in higher grades are matched with students in lower ones: third grade reads with preschool, fourth grade with kindergarten, fifth grade with first grade, and sixth grade with second grade. Students sit with their partners and read the books they have picked out during weekly library visits.
On Wednesday, I visited the first-grade classroom to see how things were going. Fifth grade had brought their library books and come to read with their partners.
I saw a classroom full of focused, interested pairs of students. It seemed that with someone else to share a book with, students looked more deeply into the book they were reading. Many were new books that our library staff bought in Port-au-Prince over Easter vacation, and students were enthusiastic about them. In some pairs, I saw the older student reading to the younger student; in others, the first-grader was reading, encouraged by the fifth-grader. Here are some pictures so you can see what I saw.
We are continuing with profiles of the school staff. This week's profile is of Abner Sauveur, co-founder of LKM and Pedagogy Director for LKM's Institute of Learning.
Abner grew up in Matènwa and went to school through 9th grade. After 9th grade, his increasing responsibilities as a community literacy teacher and provider for his family meant that he could not continue. In 1996, Abner and Chris Low founded LKM. Abner says that they wanted "to create a school that worked with a different method." Some of their goals were for children "to learn in their mother tongue, to learn to read and write well, to learn without physical punishment, so that they can be comfortable in school. For the school to put agriculture together with education, for the students to learn with concrete materials and to get enough to eat in school." Another goal was "for others to come see the work we're doing, and spread our message." All of these goals have now been realized, both in LKM and in our network of 35 partner schools on Lagonav.
Abner's favorite parts of his current responsibilities are training teachers in pedagogy, visiting partner schools, and working in school gardens. He says that his greatest pride is the influence LKM now has over many other schools on Lagonav. "The message is clear: for children not to be beaten. Many children on Lagonav are not beaten anymore, and that makes me proud. Another thing that makes me proud is the teachers at LKM. They feel it's a necessity for them to work for change; their work isn't just a job."
Finally, Abner says, his vision for the future is for the school's influence to grow even more, and for every school on Lagonav to someday become like LKM.