JN Foundation’s successful education leadership programme is set to engage students of the targeted schools in personal development training.
“It’s really important to have their voice,” Dr Renee Rattray, director of education programmes at JN Foundation, told this week’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.
“We had an entrepreneurship aspect in our previous programme — Centres of Excellence — and so we are looking forward to introducing that aspect to this year’s programme. We also want to implement some financial literacy programmes, have motivational talks with the students, and really focus on their personal development.”
Dr Rattray was among guests giving an update on the iLead education leadership programme, a partnership between JN Foundation and the Ministry of Education that aims at enhancing student performance by improving leadership in school administrations.
Five schools — Brimmer Vale High, Islington High and Port Maria Primary in St Mary; Buff Bay Primary in Portland; and Robert Lightbourne High in St Thomas — are now benefiting from the programme, which was launched last year.
Another five — St Thomas Technical High, Happy Grove High, Martin Primary, Windsor Castle Primary, and Retreat Primary and Junior High — will be added in September.
These schools are all located in the ministry’s region two, which comprises the parishes of Portland, St Mary and St Thomas, and is considered to be Jamaica’s weakest-performing region. The schools have been identified as being in need of immediate assistance.
In addition to Dr Rattray, the guests included Cathy Rattray Samuel, operations manager for the iLead programme; Carla Ruddock, acting principal, Port Maria Primary; Alfred Thomas, principal, Robert Lightbourne High; Frank Peart, senior teacher, Buff Bay Primary School; and Yasheika Blackwood-Grant, education officer with responsibility for region two.
“One of the principles built into the iLead project is celebrating student progress,” said Blackwood-Grant.
That point was corroborated by Dr Rattray, who said: “In many instances, when a student is in a school that has a negative perception, they are not used to having persons celebrate their achievements. The iLead initiative focuses on empowering these students, and getting them to feel good about themselves. So in all these schools that are part of the initiative, there is evidence of the schools celebrating the students’ successes.”
The programme, Dr Rattray said, will work intensively with the leadership in the project schools, comprising the school boards, principals, and vice-principals, as well as the education officers, to develop a culture of high expectation for academic success in each school.