Tuesday 24 November, 2020

52 students in Westmoreland receive assistance with blended learning

(From left) Aubyn Allen, Monique Henry (teacher), Monique Vanriel (teacher), Yevette Lewis (Principal), Kevin Murray (Councillor of Friendship Division) and Amashika Lorne with children (from left) Alicia Cowan, Antwoine Wainsome and Jayden Johnson at the Solas Early Childhood Institution on Friday.

(From left) Aubyn Allen, Monique Henry (teacher), Monique Vanriel (teacher), Yevette Lewis (Principal), Kevin Murray (Councillor of Friendship Division) and Amashika Lorne with children (from left) Alicia Cowan, Antwoine Wainsome and Jayden Johnson at the Solas Early Childhood Institution on Friday.

Fifty-two students in Burnt Savannah, Westmoreland have received a boost from donations and resource materials to aid their adjustment to blended learning amid the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered schools.

Leading the donation efforts last Friday were child advocate and entrepreneur Amashika Lorne and community native Aubyn Allen who strategically chose the Solas Early Childhood Institution in Blackness District as the beneficiary for their efforts.

“I currently reside overseas but I stay abreast of what’s happening. I had an emergency trip to make to Jamaica and asked some of my friends if they would like to make a contribution to help students in my home community while I’m here. I was able to raise some funds and worked on a plan with Amashika to pay it forward and help make my parents Kerton and Lola Allen, proud," Allen said in a press release.

"This school is particularly special because my grandmother was instrumental in getting the land title for the church in which the school is situated on today,” said Allen about Solas Early Childhood Institution which is located near a sugar farming belt in the parish and has been in existence for more than 15 years.

Lorne observes as six-year-old Alicia Cowan colours a page of Chat Tu Mi & Colour- a Jamaican-themed colouring book that was donated to each student.

The day-to-day lessons at the school are administered by three teachers and the current student body is comprised of students between three and six years old who are engaging in virtual classes from 9am to 12:30pm daily since school reopened virtually on October 5, 2020.

All schools closed their physical doors on March 13, 2020, after Jamaica recorded its first case of COVID-19.

For her part, Lorne noted, “Child stress and anxiety have risen across the island and what we’re seeing now is that parents are searching for additional creative  ways to keep their youngsters mentally active and engaged.

"Colouring is a great way to watch their progress in terms of gross motor skills – general movement of dragging the crayons across the page and fine motor skills – being more deliberate with the wrist and finger movements to stay in the lines. I’m hoping the books will aid quality family time in these households,” added Lorne who is also a Jamaican language advocate.

Lorne expressing some words on behalf of the donors to Principal Yevetter Lewis. Councillor Kevin Murray observes Jayden Johnson colouring a page of Chat Tu Mi and Colour.

Other benefits of colouring include improving concentration/focus, hand-eye coordination, giving a sense of accomplishment to complete tasks, and the freedom to express themselves in a creative way, Lorne said.

Principal of the school, Yevette Lewis, was elated to hear that the young Jamaicans were placing focus on the school that she administers.

“Since school commenced on October 5, week one saw about a quarter of our total registered students. Fortunately we saw improvements in week 2 with the attendance increasing to 50 per cent. One of the major complaints of our parents is the lack of credit and so I was very pleased to hear that the initiative will be giving resources and a credit donation as we continue to adhere to the directives,” Lewis said.

Newly-minted Councillor for the Friendship Division, Kevin Murray, has also welcomed the initiative and has added $30,000 worth of stationary supplies for the students.

“I strongly believe that everyone should try and play a part in uplifting our communities. When I heard of the efforts, I was pleased to be in a position to be able to make a contribution. Education is great vehicle for social mobility so an initiative of this kind takes high priority for me. I am very familiar with this school in fact, my first project vying to be a political representation was painting the school for a Labour Day project. I am happy to see its growth and sustenance since,” Murray said.

The students will all receive "three weeks' worth of data credit" to aid with online learning as well as a copy of the colouring book entitled Chat Tu Mi and Colour published by Lorne’s communications firm.

Going forward, wherein social distancing will have to be factored into the classrooms, Lewis expressed that if persons would like to continue efforts to support the students by purchasing some tents to create additional spaces for classes as a temporary fix, they can do so. 

For more information contact the principal at lewis.yevette@gmail.com or 876-4035072.

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