Mattapan Early Elementary School/Haitian Creole Dual Language Program
Haitian Creole Program
Mattapan Early Elementary School
In September 2017, Boston Public Schools launched the Toussaint L’Ouverture Academy at the Mattahunt Elementary School, the first Two-Way Immersion Haitian Creole Dual-Language Preschool Program in the country. The Toussaint L’Ouverture Academy is a Haitian Creole Dual Language program that serves students in grades K1-6. We provide an opportunity for students to achieve high levels of bilingual and biliterate proficiency and sociocultural competency through rigorous Haitian Creole and English dual-language instruction. The team at the Toussaint L'Ouverture Academy believes in the potential of every student and fosters a love of learning and a sense of responsibility in students to position them to realize their immense potential. We do this by providing rigorous and meaningful learning experiences - experiences that are grounded in students’ interests, contexts, and cultures and in the environment and community that surrounds and girds the school.
Learn more about the Mattahunt Elementary School.
The Mattapan Early Elementary School (MEES) will be offering what is likely the first Two Way Immersion Haitian Creole Dual Language Preschool Program in the country beginning in SY17-18. Instruction is provided in two languages (Haitian Creole and English) across subjects. The goals of a dual language program are biliteracy and biculturalism. At the Mattapan Early Elementary School, the Haitian Creole Language Arts curriculum is aligned with the ‘Focus on K1’ Language Arts curriculum which is currently utilized in most preschool classrooms across the district. This centers-based curriculum promotes inquiry in the classroom supported by rich text.
In a study by Virginia Collier and Wayne Thomas of over 37 districts, covering six states, (compared with students in English-only classrooms) they found that dual language students have higher test scores and also seem to be happier in school. Attendance is better, behavioral problems are fewer and parent involvement is higher.  Because bilingual children have to follow social cues in order to determine which language to use within their settings, children as young as three have demonstrated strong skills in perspective-taking and theory of mind. In a four year study of Portland Public Schools (Oregon), lead by Dr. Jennifer Steele, students in dual language programs outperformed their peers in English-reading skills by a full year’s worth of learning by the end of middle school. In addition, brain research, such as that of Dr. Gigi Luk at Harvard, found that bilinguals demonstrate better executive control; a set of cognitive skills based upon limited resources for such functions such as inhibition, switching attention and working memory. 
The Haitian Parents Association have been instrumental in supporting with parent communications and community involvement. With supports from Pastor Fleurissant, the Office of English Language Learners has had an opportunity to engage with parents and community stakeholders at events, town hall meetings and various media outlets. In collaboration with the Office of Engagement, OIIT and Communications, OELL has distributed content on the benefits of dual language programs, held meetings with Community Based Organizations and posted content on the BPS website inviting families to register for the Haitian Creole Dual Language Program at Welcome Centers.
The Office of English Language Learners has also partnered with Dr. Michel DeGraff, Professor of Linguistics, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in order to provide a five cohort session on Kreyòl Studies to BPS teachers in support of this endeavor. Dr. DeGraff has agreed to partner on this project and will be providing support to the MEES for the effective implementation of this program. In addition, this project will receive professional development from the Center for Applied Linguistics, the Massachusetts Association for Bilingual Education and Dual Language New Mexico to support with the implementation of this program. Professional Development on aligned Focus on K1 curriculum will be developed and provided in collaboration with the Office of Early Childhood and the Office of English Language Learners.
Dr. Michel DeGraff, MIT-Haiti Initiative
Dr. DeGraff is Professor of Linguistics at MIT and director of the MIT-Haiti Initiative (http://haiti.mit.edu) funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation. He’s also a founding member of Haiti’s Haitian Creole Academy. Prof. DeGraff’s research has deepened our understanding of the history and structures of Creole languages, especially his native Haitian Creole (“Kreyòl”). These languages have often been, mistakenly, described as “exceptional,” “lesser” or “deficient,” and they have been, by and large, excluded from the education of Creole speakers—to the detriment of these disenfranchised communities, in Haiti and beyond. DeGraff’s linguistic analyses and his projects on Kreyòl-based STEM education have now shown that Creole languages, such as Kreyòl, are fundamentally on a par with non-Creole languages in terms of historical development, grammatical structures and expressive capacity. Michel DeGraff’s research projects bear on social justice as well, on a global scale. In Prof. DeGraff’s vision, Creole languages and other so-called “local” languages constitute a necessary ingredient for universally accessible quality education, sustainable development, equal opportunity and dignified citizenship for their speakers.