Jamalco Mentorship programme reaping positive rewards
A mentee who exceeds expectations and defies stereotypes might sound like something out of a fairy tale - a Cinderella story perhaps. However, for former mentee, Kenardo Osbourne, this was in fact a reality which he proudly shared in a testimonial at the Jamalco Mentorship Initiation Ceremony that was held at the Halse Hall Great House recently.
"There is a perception that the mentorship programme is only for students who have behavourial problems or for those who have academic challenges. But, I am here to tell you that I was once a Jamalco mentee, and today, I am proud to say that I am now a mentor," said Osbourne, who is now a physics teacher at his alma mater, Vere Technical High School.
"Many will not believe me, but I used to have a communication problem in high school. However, I was able to overcome my communication challenges because I was inspired by my mentor," he explained.
Osborne is just one of 200 hundred students who have benefited from the programme since its inception at Vere Technical High School in 2008. The programme has since expanded its reach to the Winston Jones and Lennon high schools.
Acting manager, corporate services, DonnaMarie Brooks-Gordon, said she was pleased to see that the programme has had such a major impact and encouraged the students to always approach life with a positive attitude.
"We believe that there is no one who is irredeemable. Seventy-five per cent of the students in the programme who were deemed deviant or anti-social are now displaying positive attitudes. Many have received scholarships and have moved on to tertiary institutions," said Brooks-Gordon in her overview of the programme.
The mentees were then urged to be visionaries through a thought-provoking message delivered by guest speaker Kasan Troupe, who used her own experiences to inspire and motivate the students. Mrs Troupe, who is the principal of Denbigh High School, saluted Jamalco for the wonderful job it had done with the programme, and told her story of being a beneficiary of a similar initiative.
Troupe, who grew up in Greenwich Town, Kingston, without a father, said she was an angry child. "I was sent to a rehabilitation camp and was locked away because of my bad behaviour. However, a counsellor helped me to change my life. He saw that I had potential. Believe it or not, I graduated from the programme as one of the most improved students."
With everyone singing and swaying along to renowned Reggae artiste Jimmy Cliff's popular song, You can get it if you really want, Troupe advised the students to always be persistent.
"Regardless of the little that you have, you can blossom. I had a vision and I had hope. Persistence is a quality found in high-achieving people and you should take your education seriously. You will get there if you persist and pray because the possibilities will open up," she added.
Meanwhile, some 22 mentors who were recently trained have been assigned to their mentees and are expected to be in regular contact to help mentees boost their self-esteem and achieve academic success.