In MemoriamCelebrating the Life of Myriam C. Augustin (July 1957 - June 2021)
Myriam C. Augustin
Myriam Carmelle Augustin was born on July 14, 1957 in Saint Marc, a commune in the Artibonite Department of Haiti. She was the firstborn of André and Natividad Augustin. Myriam attended Les Soeurs de La Sagesse Catholic School until the age of 12 when she left Haiti for the United States to join her parents who had immigrated a few years earlier. The family settled in New York. Initially, they lived in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, then moved to Cambria Heights, Queens. In 1975, Myriam graduated from Andrew Jackson High School.
A lover of languages and an eclectic music enthusiast, Myriam earned a B.A. in French and Music from the City College of New York (CCNY) in 1981. During the summers of 1977 and 1983, she earned Certificates of Achievement in French language and culture for both undergraduate level and graduate level courses at the Université de Paris, Sorbonne in France. Having decided on a career in Bilingual Education, Myriam went on to earn two Master’s degrees from Bank Street College of Education: Elementary Bilingual Education in 1984, and Education/Administration and Supervision in 1991.
Myriam had an illustrious and lengthy career in Bilingual Education. In 1982, she became an elementary school teacher at P.S. 189 in Brooklyn working with the Bilingual/English as a Second Language (ESL) program until 1987. From 1987 to 1991, Myriam served in two important and prominent posts with the New York City Board of Education, now NYCDOE. First, she worked as a Field Instructional Specialist with Bilingual Pupil Services, recruiting and preparing future Bilingual and ESL teachers. Subsequently, she became a Program Review Specialist/Monitor. In that role, she evaluated Bilingual and ESL Programs to ensure compliance with federal, state and city mandates and provide appropriate services to English Language Learners (ELLs). She served as assistant professor at Seton Hall University and was the coordinator of an ethno-linguistic project for immigrant students at Essex County Community College. Myriam also held adjunct professorships at City College of New York and Hunter College of CUNY, and at the Columbia University Teachers College. Over many decades, Myriam prepared, trained and mentored large cohorts of teachers.
From 1996 to 2003, Myriam was the Director of the Haitian Bilingual/ESL Technical Assistance Center (HABETAC), responsible to disseminate information about the laws and regulations that guide the education of ELLs, and to provide training to schools and districts on the implementation of these mandates. The HABETAC also planned and delivered professional development sessions to help parents advocate for the educational rights of their children, and for teachers and administrators to implement qualiity bilingual/ESL education. Over the years, Myriam was always present to share these sessions as well as her musical talents at NYSABE events. During the mid-2000’s, Myriam developed a strong interest in international education and joined World Education as Director of the Ambassador’s Girls’ Scholarship Program which was implemented across 12 countries in West Africa including Senegal, Benin, Togo, Mali, and Nigeria.
In addition, Myriam contributed extensively in the development of curricula and educational materials in English, Haitian Creole, and French. She undertook numerous education-related consultancies. Myriam also worked with the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH) in Guinea, Conakry. While in Africa, she co-developed early childhood programs in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Back in the United States, Myriam returned to her first love: Bilingual Education. She also expanded to training and supervising graduate students in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Hunter College. Her final position was that of Resource Specialist at the New York Statewide Language Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (RBERN) at New York University.
Myriam dedicated her life to promoting and defending the rights of Haitians, their language and culture in her native land and abroad. She was a respected leader in the New York Haitian community for her advocacy for immigrant students and their families. Over many decades, a proud member of NYSABE, she was active in various organizations such as ANMWE, a Haitian teachers and parents’ advocacy entity; Ayizan, a musical group; Kalfou Lakay, a cultural organization; and Lasous, a Haitian cultural youth project. Most recently, Myriam regularly contributed to the education work of the National Center of the Haitian Apostolate. Myriam was also engaged with and supported organizations that had direct impact in Haiti. These included The Lambi Fund of Haiti, which works with grassroots rural communities in Haiti and Sant Twa Ti Flè (Three Little Flowers Center, Inc.) in Fort Royal, Haiti. As part of a CUNY-Haiti initiative, following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Myriam joined a delegation of Haitian American educators, psychologists, and social workers to travel to Haiti and teach at the nation’s public universities. She also supported the post-earthquake humanitarian efforts of MUDHA, the Dominican Republic-based women’s organization, in Leogane, Haiti. Myriam was also involved in Renesansavo with Marie Fouche, a summer project that worked with the youth of Anse-à-Veau, Haiti, to renew their city. Myriam Carmelle Augustin worked tirelessly to build up the Haitian community and to advocate for the rights of Haitian and all immigrant students. Chapo ba, Myriam!