Ruth Louis’ life began like many of the students she works with at Grace Emmanuel School.
Born into a large and impoverished family in Source Matelas, Ruth spent her childhood years living with an aunt in another village because of an opportunity there for her to attend primary school.
It was during this time she met the pastor who would have the biggest impact on her life. “He taught me about God and His love in sending His only son so we could have life,” Ruth recalls. “He showed me we are supposed to love God, our neighbors—everyone—and always think of other people and always ask forgiveness when we sin. And don’t lie.”
When a door would close at one school, Ruth would pray and another opportunity always opened up. Determined to be the first person in her family to graduate from high school, Ruth moved wherever she needed to, attending 4 different schools in 3 different villages before graduating from Hope Mission in 2007.
Ruth knew after high school graduation she wasn’t finished with her education. She needed to find a job so she could afford to go to college. At that time a small school in Cabaret with about 70 students, Grace Emmanuel School offered Ruth a position teaching first grade for the 2007-2008 school year.
During her first three years teaching at Grace Emmanuel School, Ruth’s daily schedule looked like this: Wake up at 4 or 5 am to do homework. Leave for work at 7:30 am. Go straight from work to college from 2-6 pm. Return home by 7 pm at night to study until 1 or 2 am. Wake up a few short hours later and start all over again.
After Ruth earned her degree in early childhood in 2010, she switched to teaching kindergarten and began directing the entire kindergarten program. Kindergarten in Haiti begins at age 3 and ends with a graduation after students pass their third year of kindergarten. (It would be the equivalent of an early childhood program that encompassed ages 3-6 in the states.)
In 2012, Ruth transitioned completely out of the classroom to focus fully on directing and building Grace Emmanuel School’s kindergarten program. As the kindergarten director, she helps the three kindergarten teachers prepare lessons, instructs them on child development, and coordinates all the special events and programs, like July’s graduation ceremony and the Christmas program in December.
Now in her 9th year at Grace Emmanuel School, Ruth has seen the school grow to over 300 students and 15 classes. She says it is the love of the kids that keeps her coming back each year, and the desire to help people—as instilled in her many years ago by Pastor Calixte. “Every time I see all of the students, I am happy. I want to encourage them to do well and be successful in all aspects of their lives, and use what they learn to serve their community and friends and family, and to live with principles.”
Her motivation to love people and serve them well has led her to return to school yet again this year, beginning a 4-year afternoon program in educational science.
Ruth’s love for God, others, and her sense of humor make her a delightful person to be around, and her tenacity and faith make her a role model for the students at Grace Emmanuel School.