Sun | Nov 29, 2020

Principal spearheads ‘Operation find the students’

Published:Saturday | October 31, 2020 | 12:09 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect normalcy globally, some students’ meagre access to resources for virtual schooling has also been highlighted.

To help alleviate the woes associated with distance learning, the staff at the Beulah All-Age School in the rural New Longville community in North Central Clarendon has launched an initiative dubbed, ‘Operation find the students’.

The project, spearheaded by Principal Nadine Little, sees teachers, guidance counsellor and principal going into communities and taking hard copies of lessons, assignments and tests to students who are not able to access online classes.

Little told The Gleaner that, while her team utilises modalities as advised by the Ministry of Youth and Education and Information, access to some content has been made limited owing to the lack of Internet connectivity. According to Little, the absence of some students from virtual classes underscored the hurdling circumstances of some students and highlighted the need for intervention.

“Some of our students had not been present online up to October 16th. The telephone calls were futile and therefore it became imperative for us as administrative leaders to become foot soldiers, going out into the remoteness of communities and traversing rugged terrain to get to our students. What is disappointing is, we meet students selling or playing along the road when they should be engaged in online school.”

Little shared that the visits bring about a first-hand experience of the challenges. “Meeting the parents and students in their own setting brings the reality of their situation clearer to you, and the parents are more open to speak frankly of the hardship they face. I am encouraged by their willingness to listen and to consider suggestions put forward.” She added that such interactions seek to foster better relationships with the school, parents and community.

ENCOURAGING VISITS

“Parents and children are encouraged by our visits, they feel valued to be getting a visit from their principal, vice-principal, guidance counsellor and teachers. For the persons visited so far, they will be making every effort to follow through on recommendations given. When people know you care, they will commit themselves to greater action. Our teachers are committed, resilient, and embrace the motto, ‘Only the best is good enough,’ ” she said.

One parent, Yvonne Dixon, whose child is in Grade Three, lauded the initiative. “I feel good about it because I can’t really help with the school work. So what them doing is good,” she said. Another parent said he was appreciative of the kind of interest shown towards his child’s education.

Principal Little is among four Clarendon principals lauded by the Jamaica Teaching Council on World Teachers’ Day for outstanding leadership during the pandemic. “As we continue the distance learning, let us appreciate the magnitude of the work teachers now face,” she said.