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Life's Teachable Moments

Updated: Jul 6

Life is an ever-present teacher, offering lessons at every turn, if only we are open to receiving them. Everyone alive is an educator. As educators, we're always looking to capitalize on the teachable moments.

Just recently, while attending my niece’s high school graduation in California, I was struck by how precious and fleeting time truly is. Watching her walk across the stage in her cap and gown, I was flooded with memories of her as a little girl, and I realized how quickly those years had passed. This milestone was a poignant reminder that I must cherish every moment I have with my loved ones, as life speeds by faster than we often realize.

A few weeks later, I found myself in Alabama, facilitating a breakout session at the CLAS convention. As I empowered school leaders and administrators with best strategies for ELL students, I reflected on my own journey as a ten year old immigrant child from Haiti struggling to navigate the landscape of Miami, FL. There I stood before these accomplished educators facilitating a session on sharing best practices to assist foreign students and families transition into schools. It was a definitely a surreal and full-circle moment. I couldn't help but think about the two ELL teachers at Edison Middle School who went above and beyond to help me cross the troubled waters of being Haitian in the mid-80s in Miami. The experience underscored the importance of every interaction and the lasting impact we can have on students and individuals as a whole. Each day, we have the opportunity to inspire, guide, and support those around us, contributing to their growth and success.

A week later, I found myself boarding a Disney Cruise with the family. One of the days, my children and I stood on the deck and gazed in awe at the vast, majestic ocean. One of them asked what would happen if someone accidentally fell overboard. This question sparked a conversation about the possible rescue efforts, which then led me to share the traumatic history of our ancestors during the Middle Passage. I told them about the millions of royal Africans who were kidnapped and taken across the Atlantic Ocean, many of whom were thrown into the ocean under horrific conditions. They had some angry and emotional responses.

I helped them process the information to land at the importance of faith, equity, and justice. It reminded me about the importance of teaching our children about history's darkest chapters that aren't written in classroom textbooks. It's not a secret that schools are not equipped with equitable curriculums. That day, I helped them understand the depth of suffering our ancestors faced and the resilience of the human


Another enriching experience was teaching Haitian Kreyol to residents of Miramar, Florida sponsored by Commissioner Yvette Colbourne. Over four weeks, I helped create positive energy in a room of over 100 participants eager to learn about my beautiful culture. They immersed themselves in the language, history, and food of Haiti. Seeing their enthusiasm and witnessing their progress was incredibly rewarding. It felt good to share a piece of my heritage and to see others appreciate and respect it. Now, they're eager to continue with the classes. If you or someone you know in South Florida who can benefit from Haitian Kreyol classes, click here.

This experience reminded me of the power of cultural exchange and how sharing our stories and traditions can build bridges and foster understanding.

Wherever your summer adventures take you, remember to pause and embrace the teachable moments with your loved ones, especially your children. Life is a classroom, challenge yourself to learn lessons daily. The phenomenon of the academic summer slide for K-12 students is real, but we can combat it by engaging their minds and hearts in meaningful ways. An age-old yet effective activity is visiting the library to check out books that spark their interest. It’s a simple but powerful way to keep the learning alive. So, cherish each moment, seek out opportunities to impart wisdom, and appreciate the endless lessons life has to offer.

Berwick Augustin is the founder of Evoke180, a leading publishing company that also specializes in Haitian-Creole translations. He is an educational consultant and keynote speaker who embodies two decades of experience as a writer, teacher, and assistant principal. Berwick is the author, most recently, of The Education Formula, Days, Months, and Seasons in Haitian-Creole, The Haitian-Creole Alphabet-and 1803 The Haitian Flag.

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