According to the Migration Policy, the United States has experienced a significant increase in the number of immigrants from Haiti. In the 1960s, only 5,000 Haitians lived in the United States. Seven decades later, there are 676,000 Haitian immigrants in the United States, accounting for less than 2% of the U.S. foreign-born population. They’ve been propelled to migrate to the United States due to political instability, endemic poverty, and natural disasters.
Upon arrival, they search for jobs while trying to keep their culture alive. In the state of Florida, there are more than 80,000 foreign-born Haitians. While they speak in Creole in the household and keep up with their cultural heritage, they are often met with setbacks and prejudice. Leading the forefront of change, is Marc Larose, an educator who migrated from Port-au-Prince in 1997. He’s a passionate professional who believes in the impact a teacher can make in a student’s life.
Mr. Larose arrived in Brooklyn, New York, and was forced to face many challenges including the language barrier. Over time, Mr. Larose taught himself English. It’s been 22 years since he moved to the United States. In 2005, he moved with his family to Florida and in 2018 he opened his nonprofit company, M & M Educational, Inc. He started teaching in Brooklyn and has worked as a Minority Male Task Force Ambassador to promote school-based mentoring at elementary and middle school levels. He’s made an impact in more than 500 teachers in New York and Florida, as well as 85 teachers in Haiti (in Saint-Marc, Aux Cayes, and Ti Goave). M & M stands for his daughters’ names, Magdeena and Mayleena. Mr. Larose focuses on lesson planning, curriculum development, and progress monitoring to reduce the illiteracy rate in Haiti.
What made you start teaching?
I have a passion for teaching and learning. I’ve encountered too many young men and women who have dropped out of school because of the academic challenges they were facing and because they felt they had nothing to gain by going to school. I want to make a difference by showing them that learning can be fun and rewarding.
How did you begin your journey into education with Haitian teachers?
I reached out to the owners of schools in the most remote areas of the country (because they don’t receive funding or any assistance from the government) and offered to work with the teachers for free on weekends using WhatsApp, Skype, or by sending hard copy materials to them. Once we agree on a start date, I conduct the training for 7 weeks and each session is held on Saturdays for 1-2 hours. I post the schedule and upload the documents on a WhatsApp group we create especially for the school.
At the end of the training, the teachers who participated receive certification from M & M Educational, Inc. I follow up with the teachers to see how they are implementing the research-based strategies that they learned. They also upload videos and audios of their own teaching sequences.
Mr. Larose has been training Haitian teachers since 2016 but he continues to work with 12th-grade Haitian students so they can teach kids in their communities how to read and write.
What feedback have you received?
The Haitian teachers and school administrators are grateful they find someone who is willing to work with them regardless of the political situation of Haiti.
They constantly request technology such as laptops, tablets, and computers, because they have no computer labs or access to technology in schools.
How are you changing or improving people’s perception?
I feel like I’m changing the Haitian teachers’ perception when it comes to focusing on the students they are serving rather than the number of political distractions that happen around them.
I’m working on getting them to understand that if we had more critical thinkers and educated individuals making decisions for the country, we would not be the country we are today.
I am getting them to focus on the social and emotional needs of the students. I’m hoping to move them from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
Have you found any challenges along the way?
Starting with the availability of the teachers to attend the online sessions due to political situations in Haiti to the limited time they have to review the documents I upload for them. They don’t have an unlimited plan through their service providers and many times, they have to wait until they are able to pay their phone bill to see the documents and participate in the discussion sessions.
Most of the teachers don’t have access to a phone or tablet to see the educational documents that I upload for them during the sessions.
For the time being, I’m looking into easier methods to get the materials shipped to Haiti in 3 to 4 days rather than 3-8 weeks.
How can you help the Haitians in the USA?
I’m dedicated to helping students understand the educational system and find the resources they need to be successful in school and in life in the USA.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
It’s challenging to change people’s mindsets especially if they have been part of a system that does not reward them for what they do. Teachers in Haiti haven’t been paid in a long time for the work they do, and this makes it harder for me to convince them that being a teacher is the noblest job of all time.
What recommendation would you give someone who is interested in learning with you?
I’m uploading educational resources on a weekly basis to M & M’s Facebook page and onto our website. With the help of Genius Plaza, I’m able to reach a much larger audience through their platform.