Haiti– Independent evaluator gives seal of approval to Salvation Army schools

Local children attend Salvation Army-run schools throughout the southern part of Haiti. Photo by Kara Langford

The results are in. Rob Stillwell, an accreditation consultant for the Utah State Office of Education, took a two-week tour of Salvation Army schools in the south of Haiti in order to equip and evaluate teachers, administrators and schools.

“To say I am impressed is truly an understatement,” he reported.

Stillwell visited 12 schools, many in remote areas, and discovered how valuable they are to their communities. Students and teachers alike often walk rough mountain terrain, some for three hours each day, to get to and from these schools. “The students I saw were responsive and engaged…The sense of belonging and taking some responsibility for their learning was evident,” he said.

In addition to gathering data and making observations, Stillwell presented at a seminar for the directors and administrators. He offered practical tools for supporting and gauging school improvement, and left encouraged by the response of those who attended.

“I commend the directors and teachers for providing so much direct instruction to students,” he said. “It is remarkable how much teaching and learning is taking place with such little resources to work with.”

Moving forward, Stillwell hopes to see the Army reinforce and standardize sound policies that are already in place and continue to develop partnerships with surrounding communities.

Major Ron Busroe, Haiti Recovery and Development (HRD) director, is happy with the results of Stillwell’s visit and looks forward to the implications of his findings. “It sounds trite, but he taught people to fish,” he said. “In building the capacity of The Salvation Army teachers, he has had a greater impact on the future of Haiti.”

Stillwell has 35 years of experience in education, mostly as an elementary, middle and high school principal. He connected with The Salvation Army in Haiti after the earthquake to offer his services as a volunteer, paying his own way to Haiti. The HRD office hopes that this relationship will include annual evaluations and the development of a course of training for teachers, administrators and school directors throughout the division.

Historically, the Stillwell family was one of the founding families of The Salvation Army in the USA Western Territory.

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