WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It’s playtime with Ronald Pierre Paul and his two daughters. Pierre Paul is Haitian but in his household, the kids get a heavy dose of English and Spanish since his wife is Hispanic.
Ronald said he’s trying to teach his kids creole.
“And you know I’m the only Haitian-speaking person in the house. So they pick up on some things but I would love for them to learn,” he said.
Pierre Paul said education is first and foremost in his home. So, to find out that the School District of Palm Beach County will offer a Haitian Creole dual language program this fall, he’s happy about it.
“I think it’s great. I think it helps to bridge the communication gap for those who are coming in and for those who have kids who have been born here like my kids and they can use a little extra to speak my language,” he said.
The School District of Palm County chose Rolling Breen Elementary in Boynton Beach to launch a Haitian Creole/English dual language program. The plan is for students entering kindergarten to kick the program off in August 2022.
The program will help students to learn two languages by being taught in both English and Haitian Creole.
“I had the benefit of my parents speaking Creole to me and my kids don’t have that so it’s a great benefit,” Pierre Paul said.
Why is this program so important? Florida boasts the largest Haitian population in the U.S. with more than half a million folks who identify as Haitian/Haitian American.
According to the School District of Palm Beach County, nearly 93,000 Palm Beach County residents speak Haitian Creole. Over 9,500 students in Palm Beach County identify Haitian Creole as their native or home language.
The dual language class is open to any child wanting to take the class.
The Haitian Creole Dual Language Program starts this fall.