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Nestled in the mountains of Font Blanc, Haiti, is the Reverend Sylvain Coed School. Among this majestic beauty, children of all ages come from the countryside to learn. The Reverend Sylvain Coed School also provides a home for orphans and needy children.
“We have over 400 students attending our school from the community. They come from villages and over the mountains,” says Brunard Michel, the principal. “Of the total about 95 students live here at the school. The ones who live here are orphans or just need a place to live,” explains Principal Brunard. The school ranges from pre-school children all the way to high school.
“Our youngest students are babies, just one year old,” says Principal Brunard. Pre-school goes from babies to four years old. Then there is primary school and secondary school. “The secondary students can be older, in their 20s. It’s whatever they need.” All 400 plus students get to attend the school for free. They just pay a small fee to register. All children are dressed in attractive, comfortable uniforms, which the school provides for free. “The children who live here at the school also receive free room and board,” says Principal Brunard.
The school covers the typical topics for the pre-school children of counting, names of the week and hours, French, and so on. Primary school covers more academic topics, such as reading, writing, mathematics, and science. Secondary school goes deeper into the academics and dives into the languages, with the students learning English and Spanish, in addition to French and Creole. There is music at all levels of the school, which reflects the Haitian culture’s deep love of music. The children are active during breaks, playing soccer and other games in the expansive courtyard.
Some of the students at the school are attending college. “If they’re an orphan and they go to university, they can continue to live here at the school and we will continue to take care of them,” says Principal Brunard. He explains that the Reverend Sylvain School is always their home. “Some universities are far, so the orphans come back on weekends and some are closer, and they can just go for the day.”
Principal Brunard’s background is in accounting and administration, which is useful to his work. In addition to being the principal, he also teaches biology.
“I am so pleased at the progress the school has made. This is my biggest happiness.”
“Principal Brunard has an easy-going style—he’s someone who gets along with people easily, but when it comes to business, he is very disciplined,” says Jean Carlos Sylvain, Vice President of the Life for Haiti Foundation. “He takes time to visit each classroom on a regular basis and takes great pleasure in learning each student's name. Because of the relationship he has with parents, students, and teachers, the school attendance is at a record high and we have seen great advances in the children’s education.”
Principal Brunard’s eye is on the school’s future and the next advance he wants is a new school building. “The biggest challenge we have at the school is the place,” he says. The school is using the church’s rooms and buildings for classes. “The school already has the land, but we need funds to build an independent, separate school.”
If you would like to help the Reverend Sylvain School in the mountains of Fond Blanc, you can give a tax-deductible donation here for school supplies or for building the schoolhouse.