JIS: The Mocho Primary and Infant School in Clarendon has initiated a robust literacy programme that is geared at encouraging reading among students as well as ensuring that the institution remains a leader in the field.
Among the measures implemented are the Journalism Club; Pen Pal club; and the Read Aloud system, where teachers source books and loan to students on a weekly basis.
Parents are also encouraged to assist children in reading the publications.
The school also publishes ‘The Beacon’, which provides an opportunity for students to showcase their writing and photography skills. The information provided in the publication, is also shared with the wider community.
Speaking in an interview with JIS News, Principal of the institution, Tina Reid, says she needed her students “to be on par with other children in the urban area”.
“The Journalism Club has sparked their interest and exposed them as well as enhanced their literacy levels,” she says.
She adds that the Beacon has allowed students to become columnists, writing on various issues, taking photos and writing their own captions.
The Beacon has become, outside of the regular Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meetings, an avenue to provide crucial information from the school.
The school has enjoyed high literacy results over the past decade, ranging from the high 90s to up to 100 per cent a year ago.
There was, however, a slight decline in the last Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), which the school administrators have attributed to social issues affecting families in the deep rural communities, which resulted in absenteeism among some students.
With support from the business community and political representatives, an initiative called ‘Perfect Friday’ and ‘Perfect Month Plan’ were implemented. Under this programme, children are rewarded for good attendance.
Principal of the Mocho Primary and Infant School, in Clarendon, Tina Reid (3rd right), and Vice Principal, Curdell Bryan-Thomas (3rd left), stand with other staff members at the rural institution, which is enjoying high success in literacy.
Also, the recently launched school garden, which will support a breakfast programme, also serves as a boost for increased attendance.
Starting at the entrance of the school gate are ‘Word Walls’, which highlight important words, and teachers are encouraged to include them in their curricular activities.
All the classes are equipped with Reading Corners, showcasing reading materials for different levels, covering a range of interests. Students are also encouraged to join the Jamaica Library Service mobile library.
Other initiatives used to promote literacy include the Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) timetabled activity that allows students to read for 15 minutes daily after lunch.
“It is an initiative that encourages reading right across the school. Academic staff, ancillary staff, vendors, the student body; right after the lunchtime period, (we) go into DEAR time, and everyone knows it is time; everyone has something reading,” the Principal states.
They also have the Language Experience Approach (LEA.), where teachers and students utilise interactive techniques and hands-on materials to encourage reading and storytelling.
“We don’t tell them that they are wrong. It is there so that you develop on their experiences, and also improve their language,” Ms. Reid adds.
A Reading Fair is held every June, where other primary schools are invited to share in the school’s experiences, and participate in the various literacy competitions.
Meanwhile, the Principal states that she was extremely pleased with the initiatives that have been implemented, while noting that this has pushed her to work harder.
“So, it is a motivation factor for me – when I look at my teachers, and see how enthused they are, and the students feeding from that enthusiasm, I go home and think about what I can do next to enhance my students’, and my teachers’ interest in delivering the curriculum,” Miss Reid tells JIS News.
She informs that the vision is for the school to become Information Communication Technology (ICT)-centred.
She states that while not many students have the computer gadgets, focus is placed on technology-aided lessons, where the teachers take their personal tablets to school “to ensure that our students are exposed”.
For past student, James Palmer, who now goes to Clarendon College, the Journalism Club, has helped him to become a better reader and assisted in improving his language arts skills.
Head Girl of Mocho Primary, Zackiah Buckley, who is also the Secretary of the Club, says it continues to help many students, and it has helped her to become a writer.
Peer Counsellor at the school, Jerome Greyson, says he is excited with the opportunity being provided by the Pen Pal Club to learn new words.
“It is very educational to everybody, and I thank Miss Tina Reid, for everything she has done to help us to become stars in the future, and Mrs. Bryan-Thomas and other teachers who have reached out to struggling readers,” the student says.
Reading teacher, Curdell Bryan-Thomas, who is also Vice Principal, states that “I am enjoying it, and the students themselves are enjoying it. The lessons are very engaging; student-centred, and of high interest to struggling readers.”
Grade-6 teacher at the Mocho Primary and Infant School, in Clarendon, Shonique Hall (3rd right), with top winners in the school’s recent Annual Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Quiz Competition, held at the institution.
CAPTION: Reading teacher and Vice Principal, at the Mocho Primary and Infant School, Curdell Bryan-Thomas (centre), demonstrates to Peer Counsellor, Jerome Greyson (right), and Chairman of the school Board, Ainsworth Kelly (left), an area of the school which promotes the institution’s strong literacy programme.