Closed schools & innovative students

Due to an ongoing political crisis and growing insecurity in Haiti, Grace Emmanuel School was unable to hold regular classes from the end of September until the beginning of December.

As part of an attempt to bring all normal life to a halt in Haiti until the current president resigned, protestors threatened—and carried out—violence against schools that tried to meet over the last 10 weeks.

GES was the target of some of this violence, finally needing to suspend even the secret gatherings of 9th graders and seniors who had tried to continue meeting so they wouldn’t lose learning time before their government exams.

While a few schools in Port au Prince were able to create online learning platforms to continue classes during the country’s lockdown, students at most schools, including Grace Emmanuel, did not have access to the technology for this to be possible. 

Instead, our students got creative. Here are some of the ways GES students took charge of their education while waiting for school to reopen.

Neighborhood tutors

Gilson and Giltane worked with a neighbor on grammar and math while school was closed.

Some parents had neighbors provide services for their children, as was the case for siblings Giltane, 5th grade, and Gilson, 4th grade. Their father had a local tutor work with them on basic subjects like grammar and math. “He even gave us some classes on the Bible,” Giltane shared with a smile.


Felisson kept his math skills sharp with help from his dad.

Some students were fortunate to have the help and support of their family, learning from parents or older siblings on certain subjects. “My father worked with me on math,” said Felisson, a 7th grader. “He thought I had to at least do something.”

Self-directed learning

Students who did not have parents who were able to help them in their schooling moved forward on their own.

Frantzdy taught himself math concepts from a new textbook for this school year.

“I’m old enough, I had to keep going,” said Frantzdy, 7th grade. “I took my new math book, the only book I had received so far, and started working in it. I did not understand it at first. It’s a very different program from the 6th grade, but after a few days I ended up understanding some of the methods.”

Yvensky, 10th grader, taught himself from last year’s textbooks.

“I did not have the new books for this year in school yet,” shared Yvensky, 10th grader, “so I revisited my books from 9th grade. I gave myself lessons in French, social studies and math because I wanted to stay connected to school and not lose any knowledge.”

Renette and Jesula, 10th graders, decided to use the time to advance in their learning of languages and literature.  Renette read the works of Haitian poets and writers, while Jesula perfected her English and French by learning how to make long sentences and start conversations. The girls shared that they practiced and read every day.

Meeting with fellow classmates

Remica (left) met often with fellow 9th graders to study together.

Students who will have to take the government exams next summer were driven to work even harder to learn without school. Loudenie, Renia, Daphcar, Remica, and Loussanda, 9th graders, were proud to share that they met together often to study.  

Clersaint and Edelin, seniors, taught fellow students all the concepts they had learned so far in chemistry. “To hear them speak,” said Scindie, GES counselor, “You would think they could be substitutes for their chemistry teacher.”

Pray for continued calm

Grace Emmanuel School has now been in session since December 2. Protests have waned for the moment, and we are hopeful to continue meeting through December 23, break for the holidays, and then resume classes on January 7.

Please keep praying for lasting peace in Haiti.