Penn Graduate School of Education Researchers Head to Haiti to Improve Long-Term Educational Leadership

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Media Contact:Jill DiSanto-Haines | | 215-898-4820June 28, 2010

PHILADELPHIA — Sharon Ravitch, a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, will lead a team of researchers to Haiti on July 15 to launch an educational-redevelopment project aimed at helping to rebuild the country’s academic infrastructure.

January’s earthquake in Haiti killed nearly 1,300 teachers, leaving a massive void in educational leadership.

As a part of this long-term project, the Penn GSE team will conduct a community-needs assessment focused on education in Port au Prince and surrounding areas.   The team will assess a variety of educational institutions in Haiti, including private, public and religious- and community-based schools, in order to get a picture of the state of education in the country. 

The team will focus on leadership development at the school and community levels to determine where the greatest needs lie, and where to focus their efforts and actions during the next three years.

In addition, they will build partnerships with the Haitian Ministry of Education and relief agencies working to rebuild after the earthquake.

 “Our goal is to create partnerships that lead to in-country capacity building and sustainability, “ Ravitch said.  “We are customizing our work to the cultural context and collaborating with the local community.”

GSE’s team is comprised of three students and alumni.  Two of them, Ralph Bouquet and Wagner Marseille, were born in Haiti.

Bouquet, a student in Penn GSE’s Teach for America urban teacher master’s program, teaches at Frankford High School.  Marseille, a graduate of Penn GSE’s Mid-Career Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, is an assistant principal in Lower Merion, Pa.  The third team member, Laura Colket, is a doctoral candidate in GSE’s Educational Leadership program

The GSE team will return on July 23.  According to Ravitch, the next step will be to design a framework, produce a timeline, raise money to continue their work in Haiti and build a permanent team.

Future trips to Haiti will focus on collaborating with Haitian educators on professional-development programs and conducting a program evaluation.