There's nothing more fulfilling as an educator than having a profound impact in someone's life. I had the privilege of spending a couple of days in Key West, FL with awesome educators, students, and families. The interactions were meaningful, the conversations were helpful, and the takeaways were impactful.
Natallie Liz, the awesome ESOL Coordinator for Monroe County School District, and her colleagues organized a successful parent night for English Learners (ELs). She harnessed a pool of organizations and individuals to provide pertinent resources for the migrant community.
I was blessed to speak to the EL parents about engagement, their rights, and the impact their voices and presence make when they're active in the educational process. It made a world of difference for the Haitian parents and their children who recently migrated to this country. Their eyes lit up when they heard me speak Creole. The students were excited to receive the bilingual books I've written and the opportunity to converse with an author who can relate to their plight. The connection was unreal as I shared my story of coming to Miami at the tender age of ten and having the similar experience of trying to navigate the school system and American culture. From helping to translate for a parent who was talking to an immigration lawyer to autographing a book for a student to having robust conversations with educators about the landscape of education, the electrifying connections made the two hour event feel like an eclectic family gathering.
The following day I delivered a keynote to a group of middle school students. I was able to share wisdom I wish I knew when I was their age. After the assembly, I ended up spending about thirty minutes with five young men who seemed disengaged during my presentation. The intimate session gave them a chance to be vulnerable about their current mindsets. Together, we were able to come up with some next steps to help with their journeys.
The trip highlighted the reason I became an educator many moons ago and the highly effective impact of having equitable representation in all aspects of education. Additionally, it further confirmed that I'm exactly where I need to be as an educational consultant because I'm blessed with the honor of empowering more students and educators across the country with tools to help them create deeper learning experiences that are sustainable in the classroom and beyond!
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 bilingual books, Days, Months, and Seasons in Haitian-Creole, The Haitian-Creole Alphabet-and 1803 The Haitian Flag.