In this week’s feature of the Principal’s Spotlight Initiative, we highlight aspects of an intervention led by Dr. Donna Mitchell-Jarrett, Principal, Kitson Town All-Age in Region 6. Dr. Mitchell-Jarrett was a participant in Cohort 18 of the Effective Principals’ Training Programme. Dr. Mitchell-Jarrett participated in Round 1 of the programme during the period January – March 2021 and executed her implementation during term three of the 2020-2021 academic school year. Below you will find excerpts of his intervention.
Based on an assessment of the human and material resources at the school, the principal determined the need to refurbish the school plant and to provide empowerment sessions to equip teachers with the skills and dispositions needed to deliver the curriculum to students in a virtual learning environment. In support of teacher professional development, she sought the services of various principals who presented on topics related to action planning and the creation of SMART objectives. Internal staff members facilitated sessions on creating Google classrooms, uploading documents to the platform, delivering engaging sessions in the virtual space. In addressing the school plant, several activities were conducted to address learning, hygiene, waste management, water availability, beautification, and health. Specifically, an open area within the building was repurposed to host another classroom and a tuck shop; handwashing stations were established on the school grounds; the garbage skip was covered and meshed so that the school would be deemed ready for re-opening; water tanks were installed as part of a project through Food for the Poor; two additional water troughs were constructed to ensure that students are able to access drinking water; a landscaping initiative was implemented aimed at beautifying the school grounds; the school’s walk/driveway was improved; a container at the entrance of the school was repurposed for use as an isolation area; and an Covid-19 Operation guide was prepared to guide the school’s reopening activities. In the implementation of these activities, the principal mobilized members of the school community including Grade 6 students in support of the work done. In an effort to engage parents, she also facilitated online seminars to sensitize them of changes in school processes and attendant protocols stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Impacting the System
The implementation of this module has strengthened the leadership capacity of the principal who has had to spearhead projects emerging from consultations and discussions with stakeholders. The support she received from stakeholders has further convinced her of the need to involve members of the school community in all school improvement projects. She has developed a better relationship with the parents with whom she interacted, the principals who participated in empowerment sessions, and the teachers who have gained from the work she has spearheaded. As a result of the staff empowerment sessions, the staff members are now able to deliver more interactive sessions using Bitmojis, Google slides, and voice overs. Lesson delivery has improved as the sessions are more interactive and more appealing to students; lesson plans contain more SMART objectives; and teachers have become aware of a wider range of tools that may be used to enhance the learning process. Teachers indicate that attendance has improved and students are more engaged, particularly with the Google Slides. Plans have been put in place for future sessions that are driven by the needs and recommendations of the teachers. Work completed on the school compound has contributed to a safer and cleaner school environment where students are enthusiastic about maintaining their surroundings. The combined impact of the improvement in infrastructure and lesson delivery has also contributed to an increase in school enrolment with parents seeking to transfer their children from surrounding schools. This is particularly evident at Grade 1 where an additional teacher is now being sought to support the significant increase in class size.