Ebenezer Methodist Basic School sets the standard
Husband and wife Kenroy and Simone Euter expect to rejoice on Sunday, August 21, as their shared dream of opening a youth-focused education centre in Bonny Gate, St Mary, becomes a reality.
In addition to offering reading programmes for local children, Faith Academy comprises a kindergarten and a remedial studies department established in conjunction with the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning, to help anyone over the age of 16 years obtain Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects, and the equivalent of a high school diploma.
Kenroy, who is a gardener by trade, first came up with the idea to establish a learning centre in his hometown in 2005, and after five years of planning and seeking financial support, started running the school informally with his wife in 2010.
News of the good work the couple was doing spread, and eventually, a US-based charity, Beach Bum Carers, heard about the project, and offered assistance in developing the school. The charity helped construct and equip the facility, and now the Euters are ready to take their venture to another level.
Simone, who is a former teacher at Guy's Hill High School, told Family and Religion: "I think a lot of the time, the quality of education that we provide for our children in rural areas is woefully insufficient.
"We could have probably started officially a long time ago if we thought we could do this any and anyway, but we really want our students to aspire for a world-class education.
"We want this to be a place that encourages students, particularly the small learners, to be creative, and so we are trying our best to equip the kindergarten to something like the standard you would get in a developed country.
"We want our story to motivate our students so they understand that you can start anywhere. You can come from the most degrading background and economic situation, but if you believe in yourself, your vision, and your goals; with hard work, you can accomplish anything."
Kenroy added: "My wife is right. People can come from the lowest and soar to the highest, and I'm a testament to that because I dropped out of school at the age of 13.
I remember, one Christmas when people were eating their turkeys, stakes, or whatever, the only thing my mom could find to put in that pot was chocho, and I don't eat chocho (laughs). On that Christmas Day, I went to bed without food, so when I look at what we've done here, I honestly believe the sky's the limit."
Looking ahead, the duo hopes to forge a partnership with the HEART Trust/NTA to deliver skills training programmes to local residents, and are currently seeking financial support to build laboratories where students can enhance their practical skills.
About 100 people have already shown interest in the proposed housekeeping, pastry-making, building construction, and interior decorating programmes, which suggests that Kenroy was correct when he suggested Bonny Gate was the ideal location for a skills training centre.
He said: "When I first got this vision, I was thinking about the youths in this area and how hopeless their situation is. There is nothing in this community to stimulate, motivate, or push them forward, so I really think Faith Academy will help to pull a lot of them out of the holes they're in, and place them on a pedestal."