Every summer since 2012, Dr. Shewanee Howard-Baptiste (Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance) presents annually at the Teachers’ Summer Institute (TSI). TSI is an internationally conference in Croix-des Bouquet, Haiti that provides Haitian teachers additional resources to be effective educators inside and outside of the classroom. Dr. Howard-Baptiste has presented in the following areas: CPR and First Aid, Increasing Physical Activity in the Classroom, and Math in Motion. The conference has grown each year with almost 200 teachers traveling up to two hours to participate in the conference. UTC has supported her for many years from departmental and institutional funding to support travel, t-shirts for participants, CPR mannequins, printing costs, beach balls, and jump ropes. These materials are fundamental in creating new ways to engage health and physical activity into Haitian classrooms.
Historically, the country of Haiti has never had a health education curriculum for students of any age. Though local and international organizations and schools have developed curriculum’s that address important issues like HIV/AIDS and water safety, to date there is no comprehensive health education curriculum, and therefore no health education teachers. Many of the current teachers in Haiti have the equivalent of a U.S. 9th– 12th grade education, and there is no core set of standards or protocols that guide classroom teachers about health or physical education. The presence of medical personnel, including physicians, nurses, and nurse practitioners, has been lacking. This shortage, therefore, presents a unique opportunity for U.S. healthcare providers and educators to have a strong and positive influence on Haitian health curriculums. We must acknowledge, however, that we, U.S. educators, etc., are outsiders and need to earn the trust and respect of Haitian teachers and students. For this to occur, training on topics like cultural competence and cultural humility are imperative.
Teachers from the conference can now share their information with their students each year. It is estimated that over 3,000 students have been positively impacted by the annual TSI conference.