Late yesterday afternoon, as the sun was sinking behind Haiti's tall and noble mountains, our small team secured the last signature needed to finalize the purchase of a 23-acre parcel of land - marking the end of an eight-month search and the beginning of our journey to raise the standards of education available to both students and teachers.
Nestled into the foothills of the Central Plateau, this expansive property will be home to Summits Academy, a college-preparatory school and teacher training center. In addition to providing over 300 high-performing students with access to a competitive curriculum centered on social justice and entrepreneurship, Summits Academy will provide ongoing professional development to the 336 teachers and administrators in our network of 42 primary schools.
Our hub and spoke model has been inspired by countries such as Finland, Poland and South Korea; countries that have overhauled their education sectors and increased their standards of academic rigor by doubling-down on the most critical school-based factor on student outcomes: teachers. Dr. Paul Farmer, the alchemist of alliteration, often talks about the 4 S's of international development; he argues that genuine and systemic impact requires the establishment of systems, the availability of stuff (supplies), the creation of structures or spaces, and finally, an investment in staff. In the context of development in Haiti, it's that fourth "s," - the capacity of Haitians to lift their own country out of poverty - that is often overlooked. And it is from this place that we begin our work ahead.
Our team is grateful to all who helped us get to this pivotal moment and we look forward to joining forces with others who believe in the power of the teacher and the potential of the student.