The Full Story
Teachers at the Watermount Primary and Infant School in St. Catherine devised a “rescue plan” for children affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, resulting in 85 per cent of students getting their high school of choice.
Principal of the institution, Karlene Thomas Laing, tells JIS News that after the restart of face-to-face classes, and it was discovered that “learning gaps” existed in the children, the teaching staff took charge and sought her permission for the special efforts to get them on track for the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations.
“We looked at the weak areas, and we planned to tailor our instructions to address the needs that we identified, and the teachers welcomed it with open arms. It took a lot of time, it meant that some were going to stay at school until almost night, but they were willing to do it, to get it right,” the Principal outlines.
She adds that given the many challenges experienced by the students, especially with Internet connectivity, and the purchasing of data by parents, the dedication of teachers has manifested in most of the 22 students who sat the PEP exams, getting their first pick of high schools.
“Whatever achievements we have made, we have made it because of the commitment and dedication of the teachers, and without them, we couldn’t do this. I am as proud as the parents,” she says.
The Principal notes that during the height of the pandemic, when classes were taking place online, teachers stayed at the school daily and assisted students to utilise the institution’s Internet.
Mrs. Thomas Laing informs that the school is one of the certified infant institutions in the area, and one of three government primary schools in that section of the parish with a Brain Builder Centre, a significant achievement “because of what we are doing”.
“We don’t have space to accommodate any more students,” she says, adding that the community is fully on board with the school and plays its part in the vision and development of the growing institution of more than 200 students.
Top student for 2022, Amanda Kelly, is thankful to the Principal for enabling her to achieve so much in the exams.
“I am leaving with an amazing feeling about what I have accomplished,” she tells JIS News.
Amanda also credits her older sister, Stacey-Ann Christie, who “always quizzed me on all the grade-six work”.
Her parting advice to younger students is to “do your best in all that you do. Never hold back on anything, believe in yourself and the results will come”.
Amanda’s mother, Simone Riley, says the many medals and trophies won by her daughter made her feel relieved from the countless “struggles” that she went through, noting that when schools were locked down, she used skills gained from the former National Youth Service (NYS) to teach her child at home.
Top male student, Shevaughn Samuels, says he feels great knowing that “I have left an impression on the students as a role model”.
He believes his exemplary behaviour has paid off, and he intends to be at the top when he is leaving high school.
Family member Dorrianne Bennett shares that the accomplishment of Shevaughn has put smiles on their faces.
“We want him to continue on the path that he is on. With his determination, he will realise what he wants to be,” Miss Bennett says.
Grade-six teacher at the school, Rose-Marie Henry, says the students showed great interest in the subjects taught at the school, and they must now take charge of the opportunities at high school.
Carlos McLeod, a 28-year veteran educator, says the institution is now a school of choice, and the past students and sponsors are preparing the students well for the future.
He shares that under the leadership of their “transformational” Principal, they had early-morning and late-afternoon extra classes to compensate for the COVID-19 losses.
“We did that, and today we are proud because they (students) are coming from far,” Mr. McLeod says.
The main objective of PEP is to enhance the academic and critical thinking capabilities and creativity of students by the end of primary-level education. It commences with a series of assessments at grade four and ends in grade six. The three main categories are Performance Task, Ability Test, and Curriculum Test.