Wed | Jun 26, 2019

Merl Grove programme kicks bad behaviour through gate

Published:Friday | May 10, 2019 | 12:32 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Delroy Williams (right), mayor of Kingston, congratulates students at Merl Grove High School at the awards and launch ceremony of the Children Experiencing Everyday Transformation programme at the school, which uses literature to transform underperforming and undisiplined children into better students.
Delroy Williams (right), mayor of Kingston, congratulates students at Merl Grove High School at the awards and launch ceremony of the Children Experiencing Everyday Transformation programme at the school, which uses literature to transform underperforming and undisiplined children into better students.

Several Merl Grove High School students who were either constantly misbehaving in classes or underperforming during the Christmas term were awarded yesterday for making a full turnaround after participating in a programme created by the school.

Dubbed ‘Children Experiencing Everyday Transformation’, one of the strategies employed by the programme, which started in January, was to use storybooks to help the girls find solutions to real-life issues they faced.

Tamieka Stewart, the mother of one of the girls, said the initiative was like “Moses taking the children out of Egypt from Pharaoh”.

“This programme changed my daughter in so many ways. Her attitude and behaviour changed towards work around the home and her punctuality towards school. I used to get a lot of calls from school. Every time I get a call, it is about something she did wrong, whether disrespecting the teacher or truancy. That changed when this programme stepped in,” Stewart told The Gleaner.

Althea Morgan-Clair, teacher and project coordinator, said the problems had become so overwhelming that the administration had to intervene.

“We have girls from grade seven to eleven. Some of them face behavioural challenges and they have no respect for authority. One girl said to me that her mother would call her John crow every time. Those things affect them,” she said.

“Some were just not performing academically. One student did nothing in English class, so her score was zero. She moved from zero to the 70s. I decided to use literature to give the students a transactional experience using fictional characters,” Morgan-Chair said.

“The novel we used was Inner City Girl. The main character is Martina, who lives in an inner-city community. Her mother is not somebody gainfully employed. She has three children with different fathers. The fathers are not really around. The mother leaves in the night and comes back in the morning. When she passed for a prominent high school, the mother did not support her. She was bullied, and at one point, she was abducted, but regardless of challenges, she did exceptionally well. She did not allow her challenges to stop her from progressing academically or to be insolent to adults.”

The programme, though it began in January, was officially launched yesterday in the presence of Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams and Ministry of Education officials. The school has indicated that it will continue as a permanent fixture going forward.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com