Mon | Oct 16, 2017

Students turn teachers

Published:Thursday | June 25, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Sixth-form students Timothy Simmonds (left) and Orville Kirkland teach CSEC maths and Spanish at St Mary High School in Highgate, St Mary.

HIGHGATE, St Mary:

A PAIR of role model sixth-form students from St Mary High School in Highgate, St Mary, is demonstrating their passion for learning and nation building by teaching Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) lessons to younger pupils at the institution.

To avoid any major disruption to the students' education following unexpected staff shortages, nine months ago, administrators decided to ask two of the school's most successful CSEC graduates, Orville Kirkland and Timothy Simmonds, to assist by teaching their favourite subjects.

Simmonds, who teaches Spanish to students from grades seven through to 11, told Rural Xpress: "Some of the teachers from the Spanish department went on maternity leave, which meant there would have been staff shortages. So I decided to help out, and loved it (laughs).

"It was really interesting because I believe there are three things students gain from learning a second language: they are better able to recall information; obtain a competitive edge when seeking employment; and are exposed to a diverse culture, which makes them more adaptable to new environments and situations."

Kirkland, who is St Mary High's top math student, was tasked with preparing grade 11 students for the CSEC exam, but in record time. He explained: "It was challenging because it's normally a two-year syllabus, but we had to do everything in one year.

"We would meet at 3 p.m., two days or three days a week, and sometimes wouldn't leave until after 7 p.m., just to get in all the hours and finish the syllabus in time for the students to do their School-Based Assessment (SBA) and prepare for exams.

a stressful challenge

"It was stressful at times because I had to manage my own schoolwork and extra-curricular activities, and sometimes didn't get to prepare for the class as much as I wanted to. And it was a challenge motivating the students because they were doubtful whether they would be able to learn everything and pass the exam in such a short space of time."

The cohort scored an average of 80 per cent in the SBA, which is impressive considering their teacher had no previous experience.

Kirkland hopes to become either an engineer or a doctor, but still has some words of advice for those working in the public-education system. "I think it's very important that more students study additional math," he said.

"The Caribbean Examinations Council has identified that there is a big gap when students transition from CSEC mathematics to Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) mathematics, so they don't do as well as they should.

"However, using additional mathematics as an intermediary gives the students a better chance of doing well because it exposes them to topics that are in pure and applied CAPE mathematics."

Simmonds, who had planned to become a linguist, but is now considering a career in teaching, agrees. He adds: "Some of the students were really reluctant to learn the language, so you have to make the lessons as interesting as possible."

- O.M.

rural@gleanerjm.com