Feature
Principal of the Grateful Hill Primary and Infant School in St. Catherine, George Moodie (2nd right), talks with students during a tour of the school farm. He was accompanied by teachers Ann-Marie Henry (left) and Michka Wellington.
Photo: Garfield L. Angus

Story Highlights

  • The Grateful Hill Primary and Infant School in St. Catherine is focused not only on creating a positive environment for students to grow academically, but also developing the pupils’ agricultural skills.
  • To this end, the school has established a thriving agricultural project with the support of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Rural Agricultural Development Authority, Social Development Commission and Jamaica Broilers.
  • Through the farming project, the institution has been providing balanced meals for students while generating savings of over $256,000 on the purchase of poultry meat over a period of one year.

The Grateful Hill Primary and Infant School in St. Catherine is focused not only on creating a positive environment for students to grow academically, but also developing the pupils’ agricultural skills.

To this end, the school has established a thriving agricultural project with the support of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Rural Agricultural Development Authority, Social Development Commission and Jamaica Broilers.

Through the farming project, the institution has been providing balanced meals for students while generating savings of over $256,000 on the purchase of poultry meat over a period of one year.

The 4-H Clubs Coordinator and teacher at the school, Michka Wellington, tells JIS News that the students are very engaged in the farming activities.

“They are actively involved in land preparation and sowing of seedlings for the crops; and they are very excited to go on the farm and do their ploughing and planting. The experience that they are getting will be good for them in the future,” Ms. Wellington says.

Some of the crops grown include banana, cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, corn, sorrel, pineapple, sweet potato, plantain, okra and pak choi.

Ms. Wellington notes that as the students are exposed to other areas of learning, they will have a better understanding that agriculture is an area they can pursue as a career.

Teacher at the Grateful Hill Primary School in St. Catherine, Michka Wellington (right), along with students, views pineapples grown on the school farm.

 

She states that the youngsters enjoy eating the provisions from the farm, noting that with lunch and breakfast being prepared with produce from the garden “it encourages them to eat healthy.”

Principal, George Moodie, tells JIS News that since the establishment of the breakfast programme, there has been a marked improvement in punctuality and reduction in absenteeism.

“They are now enjoying their vegetables. So school is not just for teaching and learning; we are building our children for globalisation, and all aspect of life,” he says.

Recently the school celebrated the achievement of students, who sat the Primary Exit Profile (PEP).

Mr. Moodie informs that 95 per cent of the 23 candidates who sat the examination have been placed in a traditional high school.

The institution is also experiencing successes in its literacy and numeracy rates, which are at 82 and 79 per cent, respectively.

The Principal says the high marks in literacy are due, in part, to the creation of a literacy lab at the school, which was developed through donations made from past students and teachers. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information also provided a literacy coach.

“That’s where the change was created, and we have built on that,” he says, adding that the facility has computers and other gadgets to boost learning.

Meanwhile, Prefect at the school, Jeraughn Creary, says he is elated to be studying at an “excellent school”.

Principal of the Grateful Hill Primary School in St. Catherine, George Moodie (2nd left), displays a bunch of bananas grown on the school farm to students at the institution. At left is teacher at the school, Michka Wellington.

 

“The teachers are very eager to teach us, so that we may learn,” he shares with JIS News.

Head Girl, Shauna-Kay Miller, heaped praises on to the teachers saying that they have “helped me to come this far.”

“I have been taught well by the teachers at this school; and I feel very good that our school produces our own food, and we can eat it,” she states.

Regarding further developments at the school, the Principal’s cottage is to be retrofitted into a Brain Building Centre. This will facilitate the Jamaica Brain Builders Programme, which is designed to ensure that the nation’s children get the best start in life.

The initiative is being implemented by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, in partnership with the Early Childhood Commission (ECC).

The school recently benefited from infrastructural upgrades totalling $6 million from the National Education Trust (NET), where a new sanitary convenience block was constructed.

Additionally, a new canteen was built at a cost of $2.9 million by the Education Ministry.