School fire leaves children in tears
Jeanette Hall was smiling yesterday - a stark contrast to her demeanour on Saturday when news surfaced that the Lannaman's Kindergarten and Nursery, where she has worked for more than a decade, was on fire.
Hall and other teachers, along with Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, toured the burnt-out complex on West Lake Avenue in Richmond Park, St Andrew. Following the tour, Thwaites promised that the Ministry of Education would help the school with its recovery efforts.
"I have sentimental attachments. Yes, I love it, I really do," said a smiling Hall in reference to the kindergarten, where she has worked as supervisor for 14 years.
"I love my work and I love my students, and I was so sad on Saturday," said Hall. "Some of the children cried. One came to me and said, 'Miss, school burn down and water in me school.' And I just feel it for them because they are very nice children - really nice children."
According to Hall, the building that housed the kindergarten had become a sanctuary for students and staff. "We were by ourselves. We come occasionally for little things over here, but we felt so secure and snug over there, so we want to go back to our school," said Hall, recalling her despondence when she heard of the news on Saturday.
In addition to the books and stationery that were destroyed in the fire were television sets, an ice maker, fans, computers, desks, and chairs. Yesterday afternoon, the origins of the fire were still unknown.
The building, according to principal, Trudy Hardy, was valued at $28 million.
No desks or chairs
Yesterday, 68 kindergarten students were relocated to Lannaman's Preparatory until recovery is completed. The children will have to sit and press on benches when they write as there are no desks or chairs in their classroom.
"We have a very vibrant school spirit, we have always been like this. We are celebrating 40 years this year, and we do not want to be daunted by what has happened," said Hardy optimistically. "We really need resources, though. We have no books for the kindergarten; all of them were burned. This morning, some of the teachers who have pencils and extra books, they have given them to the kindergarten students."
Hardy said that textbooks for the minors were all burnt and that the school would be engaged in a book drive to get some of the texts. She is hoping that parents and members of the corporate sector will assist with the provision of textbooks.
In the meantime, Thwaites yesterday promised school officials that the ministry would help with some of the shortages.
"We don't offer money to a private school unless there is some special arrangement, but what we can do is offer value," said Thwaites. "I gather that the principal has written to the ministry indicating some needs, and if we can help, we will be happy to do so."
- Corey Robinson