This Boston preschool is teaching children in Creole and English — and instilling Haitian pride


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By Fredlyn Pierre Louis, NBC

Students at The Toussaint L'Ouverture Academy
The Toussaint L’Ouverture Academy at Mattahunt Elementary School is the nation’s first two-way immersion Haitian Creole dual-language program. (Boston Public Schools)

In the heart of Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood, a quiet revolution is taking place at the Mattahunt Elementary School, whose Toussaint L’Ouverture Dual Language Academy is not just breaking down language barriers but also fostering pride, empowerment and a deep connection to Haitian culture among its students.

It’s the first two-way immersion Haitian Creole dual-language preschool program in the country, and it’s fitting that it operates in Boston, the city with the third-largest Haitian population in America. Priscilla Joseph, a founding teacher of the academy, said it was created in 2017 to meet the needs of the surrounding Creole-speaking neighborhood. 


Joseph, who is Haitian American, said she draws from her own experiences as she passionately advocates for the importance of preserving Haitian Creole. “I also grew up in a place where it wasn’t OK to say that you were Haitian, and there was a lot of discrimination against Haitian people,” she said. “So I kind of took my own experiences and entered that into the classroom, knowing how it feels to be a little bit different, or a little bit outcasted, because of your culture.”

Keep reading to learn more about these programs, including what a typical day looks like.

Haiti has suffered from European colonialism.

More stories about the Black experience.

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