Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Teacher organises islandwide reading initiative

Published:Thursday | July 21, 2016 | 7:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston
Santana Morris

From July 25 to 29, eleven reading camps will be held across Jamaica, powered by Santana Morris, who received the Governor General Award for Excellence on Thursday, June 23 at the Wexford Court Hotel in St James. She will be assisted by her team, literacy specialists, volunteers, ambassadors and other professionals.

The camps, which are to be held simultaneously at several institutions, will include one hosted at the Youth Information Centre in Clarendon.

Morris, who is the founder of Jamaica Intensive Reading Clinic, shared with Rural Xpress that as a teacher who minored in literacy, she developed a passion for helping students with reading challenges.

"This interest led me to establish the Jamaica Intensive Reading Clinic in August 2015, which is a registered non-profit organisation. Since the establishment of the clinic, reading classes are being offered to students with reading challenges every Saturday at the Calvary Baptist Educational Centre, Corinaldi Avenue, Montego Bay," she said.

Morris, who hails from the troubled community of Norwood in St James, said her life was extremely challenging in the early years as violence was a common feature of the area.

STRONG AMBITION

"I remember the many times I had to live with fear during the exchange of heavy gunfire; sometimes among gunmen and other times between gunmen and the police. However, my ambition and determination propelled me to keep on going to school," said the past student of Herbert Morrison High, Shortwood Teachers' College, International University of the Caribbean, and University of Technolgy.

Now that she has "made it out", Morris is consumed with a passion to see that others get a helping hand, and that is what is powering her desire to do what she can to assist the most vulnerable of society - children.

"It is for this reason I have conceived the idea of a summer reading programme, targeting children with literacy challenges. In addition, the high literacy rate is of concern to me. These camps, I hope, will assist in the reduction of the high literacy rate in Jamaica," said Morris.

Morris made an appeal for more volunteers to join the effort.

"However, we are satisfied that we have an adequate number of volunteers along with at least one reading specialist for each centre," she said, adding that it is her wish that by the time the camps are over, participants will be better in word recognition, word usage, phonological awareness, reading fluency, reading strategies, and comprehension skills.