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Revival All Age Shows Care During Covid-19

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Nestled in the rural and quiet community of Hopewell, Westmoreland, the Revival All Age School is a primary level institution which caters to the educational and developmental needs of students from the communities of Retreat, Revival, Brighton and Orange Hill. Guided by its motto, “Aim High and Embrace Your Greatness”, the school has been designing its intervention strategies and modifying the curriculum to meet the needs of the approximately two hundred students in its care.

In March, the schools in Jamaica, the region and across the world were forced to physically close their doors and had to move swiftly to incorporate a plethora of distance and online educational approaches to keep students motivated to learn and develop. This occurred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which also has profound impacts on the economic viability and sustainability of countries, organisations and many of our parents. Given its understanding of the socio-economic status of its parents and students, and its understanding of the reality faced by its needy students and those on the Programme for Advancement in Health and Education (PATH), the Board of Governors took the decision to assist these students with care packages as part of the school’s outreach programme.

Distribution of Care Packages

In the first instance, the packages were compiled and organised by Mrs. Franchae Donaldson, Principal, as well as, Mrs. Clayton Robinson and Mrs. Precious Reynolds, Senior Teachers. A committee was then formed which identified sixty students who were in need of this kind of support. Father Colin King, the Chairman of the school’s Board pitched in and provided additional supplies which were welcomed not only by the staff, but by the parents as well. Due to the overwhelming response by parents and members of the communities, a decision was taken to continue the implementation of the programme on a weekly basis as long as school was out due to the pandemic.

After careful monitoring and evaluation of the programme and further assessment of the needs of its stakeholders, it was expanded to include members of the ancillary staff who were displaced due to the closure of school. Assistance was also provided to members of the academic staff. The Chairman was also able to secure sponsorship from the Negril Chamber of Commerce, the Boardwalk Village, as well the local Catholic Churches. This allowed us to include macaroni and cheese (a favourite for the students) rice, flour, sugar, and canned items. As our programme expanded, we were quite fortunate to gain additional support, to include fresh farm produce such as tomatoes, scallion, onions, callaloo, cabbage, pak choi, and a wide variety of ground provisions. It was our hope that as students accessed these packages, they would perform better academically, and parents would have less items to worry about on their weekly shopping bills. 

As a school community, our hearts were warmed as we saw and experienced the joy and sighs of relief that our parents and team members have openly expressed. The teachers, parents and ancillary staff members were very appreciative and even said that they are looking forward for the programme to continue. “I’m beyond grateful to the school for providing supplies and, not just focusing on students’ academic development, but nutrition-wise because children need nutrition also their nutritional needs which impacts their ability to function whether in the physical or digital classrooms,” one parent stated.

The outreach committee has since expanded to include the Miss Keisha Stewart, President of the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA), who assists not only with the preparation of the packages, but caring for and reaping produce from the school garden since the start of the pandemic. Committee members also assisted with the logistical arrangements and the dispatching of packages to students whose parents are unable to collect packages from the school. The committee operates by the mantra, “Little is much when God is in it” which usually puts a smile on the face of recipients each time a package is received.

 

 

Maslow before Bloom

The hierarchy of needs, as conceptualised by Abraham H. Maslow (1943), is considered a psychological theory of human motivation which seeks to explain how humans pursue goals. In the educational context, it is therefore understood that for students, teachers and parents to grow, self-actualise and achieve their objectives, their physiological needs have to be satisfied before they can be inspired to achieve.  After taking a further look on Maslow’s theory, we realised how important it was to minimise the socio-economic gaps that Covid-19 had placed in the pockets of many of our parents. Most of our parents who worked in the tourism hub of Negril were deeply affected, which gave greater rise to the need for an outreach programme. 

Having participated in the Virtual Instructional Leadership Course which was designed and implemented by the National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL), it became more evident that schools must find innovative ways to facilitate the needs of students as this directly correlates with academic performance. At the conception of the course, it was proposed in the first module “Maslow before Bloom” the importance of assisting our clients to fulfill lower level needs by providing avenues to facilitate the fulfilment of these needs.  This must be done before expecting them to understand, apply, analyse and complete given tasks, as students cannot “bloom” if physiological needs are not satisfied. By assisting families with our weekly packages, both parents and students understood that we cared, not just for them to achieve success academically, but that also their health and overall wellbeing are very important to us. 

 

The Commendations

As principal and graduate of the NCEL, I must commend the College for being the standard bearers for providing a plethora of leadership development programmes to bolster the competencies of all school leaders.  Our school will now be using a variety of learning platforms to engage students so that they can continue to “bloom” in their academic endeavours; however we will never forget that before they can bloom as future leaders of Jamaica, we must put avenues in place to help meet their basic needs, as posited by Maslow.       

As a school, we are committed to the students we serve, and we will continue to play our part in assisting them in any way we can. It is our goal to construct a state-of-the-art Infant Department that will seek to build and implement educational programmes and interventions that cater to the needs of students, three (3) to six years.


Profile

Mrs. F. Wedderburn Donaldson, is an empathetic, people-centred and committed individual who has a passion for success and is committed to ensuring that each child receives the best educational opportunities available to them. Mrs. Donaldson is Principal of the Revival All Age, a Justice of the Peace, a member of the Westmoreland Lay Magistrates Association. She has also been certified by the Ministry of Justice as a mediator. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Literary Studies at the University of the West Indies with First Class Honours. Prior to her Bachelor’s of Education, she obtained her Diploma in Education from the St. Joseph’s Teacher’s College. Mrs. Donaldson has over 15 years of teaching experience at the primary level.

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