Welcome Back, TNVS Alumni!

October 6th marked the five-year anniversary since I’ve moved to Haiti to take on the leadership role of The New Victorian School (TNVS).

In that time, we have grown from 208 students to nearly 300 students!

All of the students at TNVS are near and dear to my heart. Parents are often amazed that I am able to establish a personal relationship with each of them—I know their names, their stories, their successes, their challenges and—most importantly—their dreams.

As I remind parents in every meeting, I was the first student of this school. I used to play in this yard the same way these students do, so I make it my personal mission to ensure that we are providing them with the best experience possible.

That is why it is always bittersweet to see my students graduate and fly free—especially as many of them have been my students since they were 2 years old! We are their home away from home and while we wish we could have them forever, TNVS can only offer them and education up to 8th grade due to space constrictions and construction challenges. This includes the risks of building up, the costs of expanding out and the overall safety of the location.

But what gives me comfort is that our alumni students always make time to visit and check in with us.

During this pandemic, TNVS alumni have been weighing heavy on my heart. What could I DO in the meantime to still make them feel that I had not abandoned them? I had to find a way to do what TNVS does best—be a beacon of light during the darkest of times.

Then it hit me! Saturdays!!!

I could create a Saturday program for TNVS alumni that would include an English program as well as a music program.

One of my biggest fears is that students who I have taught to play an instrument for a half a decade will never touch one again. I don’t sleep well with that thought in mind.

What makes TNVS unique is the academic, social and cultural curriculum. So  I thought, why not do a program on Saturdays that continues this unique outlook on education for the alumni who so desperately want it?

I am so proud to introduce our “Early Bird” program to you.

This name was initially used in an after-school program my dad had at TNVS for years before his passing, which was an English program for outside students as a way to introduce them to the school so they would eventually enroll. I always thought this was an interesting marketing tactic.

So once again honoring what my father started, we reopened “Early Bird” on November 9th. But this time with a twist, as the focus is now on alumni who have already been exposed to TVNS.  

It has been nothing short of amazing thus far! They dusted off their English, danced in the yard, reconnected with music, and had a great time catching up with their old classmates. And I sat back and enjoyed the energy of hope and happiness in the yard—imagining them with current students partaking in a huge holiday celebration after so much suffering with riots and the pandemic.

Although our alumni have outgrown all of our instruments, shrank the space with their post-pubescent growth (and love teasing me about how they tower over me in height), I can’t help but feel this is the start of a solid community built with love.

I am currently researching how to begin a TNVS Alumni Association as a way to keep us all connected no matter what stage of life we get to. These students were there to cheer me up and challenge me during the most difficult period of my life – grief.

While we may not be in a country that prioritizes the safety of their citizens and be a role-model for greatness, I will always strive to rise to greatness myself so they have something to strive for.

When I think of a poster role-model, I think of my dad. And I can only hope I am half the role model he was to me and to them.

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