Why I Teach

Dr. Gregory Hamilton has traveled to Haiti twice in the last year to serve as a leader teacher. Dr. Hamilton shares with us his experience and the insight that comes with developing culturally relevant curriculum.

Bondye do ou. Fe pa ou, M a fe pa M. God says do your part and I’ll do mine. As Americans, our role in Haiti has been both good and bad. The rush of NGO’s to offer aide has created as many problems as it has solutions. There is the notion of working side by side with the Haitian people to create sustainable renewal and growth. There is also the reality of throwing money into rebuilding and feeding the hungry, sending students to school, and creating jobs and opportunities that go away shortly after the money disappears or is embezzled, thus leaving families as destitute as they were before we came.

When Denise Gideon, founder of For A Reason and a University of Redlands School of Education (SOE) adjunct, and Margo Drallos, Director of Fieldwork and Advising in the School, met to brainstorm how we might offer sustainable and long-term aide to Haiti, their brainstorming led to a unique partnership between the organization and our School of Education. With a focus on teacher education, FAR and the university have designed a series of workshops providing a teacher certification program for Haitian teachers who, without certification, would lose their jobs. The partnership has given Redlands graduate students the opportunity to travel to Haiti to support the teacher education workshops and simultaneously earn hours towards their fieldwork requirements.

Over the past year, I have traveled with Denise to Haiti twice in the role of a teacher leader. Our workshops run for one to two weeks. The Haitian teachers are eager to learn new approaches for classroom instruction and theoretical frameworks such as Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal development. We, in turn, are eager to learn alongside the Haitian teachers who bring their own knowledge, pedagogy, and culture-rich underpinnings that allow us to develop culturally relevant curriculum that we can bring back to our own programs in the School of Education.

If you would like to learn more about the University of Redlands, School of Education and For A Reason partnership, please contact Denise Gideon (denise_gideon@redlands.edu), Margo Drallos (margo_drallos@redlands.edu), or Greg Hamilton (greg_hamilton@redlands.edu).