Skip Navigation

Latina/o and Latin American Faculty Working Group
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University
Teachers College in New York City Schools is a brochure describing the variety of ways that our institution is involved in local schools. Click HERE to download the full brochure.

Community Outreach  >  Global

International -

Secondary Reading and Writing Project in Haiti

Lesley Bartlett and Patricia Velasco

Professors Lesley Bartlett and Patricia Velasco, along with six students from Teachers College, are working with the teachers’ collective Pwof Ansanm in Wanament, Haiti to facilitate the inclusion of reading and writing at the secondary level. Supported by a $15,000 grant from the TAG Foundation and a $5,000 grant from the International Reading Association, the project aims to develop French-language curricular materials as well as professional development modules for teachers. The modules focus on how best to integrate reading and writing in French in overcrowded, under-resourced classrooms with students whose first language is Haitian Creole.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 8 million residents who earn a per capita income of $361 per year. Education in Haiti is in a crisis: the 2008 'Education for All' Report indicated that Haiti fell last out of 186 countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals for education. The educational system consists of 90% private schools with little oversight, and grossly underfunded public schools. Rural schools in towns such as Wanament and Ferrier, where Pwof Ansanm works, have fewer resources and opportunities than urban schools. Of the total spending on education in Haiti, 20% goes to rural schools, where 70% of the population lives. Few teachers in rural Haiti have formal teacher training, and most have no opportunity for learning new pedagogical methods.

Pwof Ansanm has, for the past several years, developed a training program for 300+ area teachers working in 21 secondary schools in inquiry-based, student-centered approaches to teaching. This second phase of the project will concentrate on developing or locating appropriate curricular materials and developing, with teachers, content-area lessons that are print-rich and promote critical thinking.

For more information on Pwof Ansanm, please check their website: Anyone interested in volunteering with the project is urged to contact Professor Lesley Bartlett at

The Bolivia Trip in the Speech Language Pathology program

Every summer, 15 to 20 students in the program make a service-learning trip to Bolivia to gain cross-cultural and bilingual skills. During the summer 2008 trip, 18 students and three supervisors--all Latina licensed SLPs from NYS (one from Uruguay, one from Spain, and one from Puerto Rico) participated. Of the 18 TC SLP students there were 7 Latinos/as including 4 from Puerto Rico, 2 from the Dominican Republic, and one from Honduras. In addition, 4 students were at the advanced level of Spanish. All students were offered 5 days of intensive Spanish--four hours a day in classes of two or three--before we had our placements.

The program in speech language pathology of the Department of Biobehavioral Studies has established a strong connection with Camino de Sordos, a school for the Deaf in La Paz, Bolivia. Only 2 or 3 of the 58 children in the school have ever had hearing aids. Catherine Crowley and John Saxman have established a team at Teachers College including Jo Ann Nicholas, Clinic Director, Dr. Melissa Innis, an audiologist and speech language pathologist, Ray Diaz, a technology expert, and a group of 6 graduate students in speech language pathology--5 of whom are Latinas. The students, with a supervisor, provide speech and language therapy in Spanish by telepractice through SKYPE in real time from La Paz to the speech and hearing clinic here at Teachers College.

Melissa has been working with hearing aid manufacturers who have begun to donate high quality hearing aids for these children. In August 2008, Melissa and Ray went to La Paz where Melissa did audiological evaluations of all the children in the school and took mold impressions and Ray installed computers that had been donated by a financial company in New York City. This project provides TC students with the unique opportunity to provide aural habilitation therapy in Spanish. By having the computers in the school, the children can always be accompanied by a teacher or their parents so the therapy can be expanded into their school and home lives.

Overview of Bolivia Trip 2008

  • For 3 ½  weeks (May 28 to June 20, 2008) eighteen students in the graduate program of speech language pathology at Teachers College offered free speech, language, and dysphagia services to children in Bolivia. The Teachers College students worked in three different sites and were supervised by three ASHA-certified native Spanish speaking clinical supervisors, and the project director.
  • At least 5 television programs and many radio broadcasts and newspapers carried information about the services offered by the Teachers College SLP Bolivian Project. The Chief Cabinet Minister of Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, sent a letter to Cate Crowley acknowledging the work of the TC SLP students in Bolivia.
  • Each student accumulated an average of 54 clinically supervised hours that will go to meet their ASHA certification requirements.
  • Together the students provided a total of over 920 hours of free speech and language services to Bolivian children with disabilities and their families.
  • Students gave 11 different talks on a variety of topics related to children with disabilities at the national hospital for children and a school for the deaf in La Paz, and a school for children with developmental disabilities in El Alto. These charlas were attended by approximately 335  teachers, parents, medical professionals, and administrators.
  • Clinical supervisors gave direct supervision at all three sites and provided daily feedback to the TC student about how to improve their work. They met as a group at least once a week.
  • Ten students--the non-native Spanish speakers--arrived early for 5 days of intensive Spanish classes for 4 hours a day in groups of 2 or 3.
  • Two times a week all met for a seminar on Bolivian language, cultures, politics, and educational systems. Articles came from a variety of fields including anthropology, U.S. congressional reports, comparative education, educational anthropology, linguistics, and sociolinguistics. The readings and discussions gave students insights into Bolivia that enhanced the quality of services they provided.
  • On weekends students traveled throughout Bolivia to learn more about the country and its people.