Haitian-Creole programs grow in Palm Beach County elementary schools

Indian Pines becomes third elementary school in district to add language
Posted at 8:11 AM, Oct 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-02 09:22:33-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — At Indian Pines Elementary School, it's not so much the little voices, but the language that stands out.

"We have a strong Creole population here at Indian Pines. They constitute approximately 45%," principal Jill Robinson said.

This year, the school became the third elementary in the School District of Palm Beach County to add Haitian-Creole to its Dual Language Program.

Students spend half the day getting instruction in English, and the other half in the language they primarily hear at home. Even so, many lack proficiency in reading or writing Haitian-Creole.

Teacher at Indian Pines Elementary School teaches Creole to students
A teacher at Indian Pines Elementary School teaches Creole to students.

Maria Delva teaches the Haitian-Creole portion and said that already this year, she has witnessed a shift.

"During our open house, parents came and they were sharing with me how the kids went home and they're able to read sentences in Creole, and I'm thinking, 'This is the way it should be,'" Delva said.

Educators said by getting students to become fluent in their home language, they pick up English that much faster.

Lake Park Elementary School also started a Haitian-Creole Dual Language Program this school year. Rolling Green Elementary School in Boynton Beach was the first to adopt it during the 2022-23 academic year.