UPDATED: Only school of 200 in St Ann to reach ECC mark
It was a proud moment, last Thursday, for principal, Antonette White and chairperson, Reverend Veronie Irons, when the Ebenezeer Methodist Basic School, located in Bamboo, St Ann received its certificate of registration from the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) at a ceremony at Riu Hotel in Mammee Bay.
The fact that it took the school all of eight years to make the grade, coupled with the reality that the school is the first and only basic school of 200 in St Ann, to reach the requirements of the ECC thus far, makes it even more meaningful.
"It's an honour to receive this," White told Family & Religion after collecting registration document. "It was hard work, sweat, tears, it's a humbling feeling but I am grateful that we have reached this far. I know that there are many other schools that should be here but we were chosen because we have met the standards."
Those standards are not easily met, with just 17 of approximately 2,700 basic schools in Jamaica, having met them.White said the school submitted its application in 2008 and has been working since then to meet the required mark.
The goal attained by the institution also underlines the continuing significant impact that the Church in Jamaica is having on education on the island. The school began with classes being held in the church but has now expanded to a building adjoining the church.
Last term, the school had 71 students on roll with a staff of five, along with three volunteers. Come September when the new school year begins, it will be with a sigh of relief, no doubt, that the staff returns to work. White said: "We're very excited about it and we're just hoping and we'll continue to do our best. We will continue to raise the bar even higher and we're just hoping that the parents will work along with us so that we can continue on the path that we have set."
The history of Ebenezer Methodist Basic School goes back some 31 years.In 1985, with some help from the Dauphin Way United Methodist Church in Alabama, USA, the Trewicks family from Bamboo, and Mavis Williams, the school was established, with the basement of the church being renovated to keep classes.
The first day of school was actually September 9, 1985, when 12 boys and five girls turned out for class, with Williams and another teacher, Dionne Campbell, and cook/caretaker, Lena McKenzie.After Campbell migrated in 1991, Antonette Brown (now Mrs Antonette White, and principal since 2003) was asked to assist. After five years, the school population grew to over 100 forcing the acquisition of additional space, with assistance coming from the sister church in Alabama, in 2000, for the first expansion. Further expansion took place
Currently, the school stands as a standard that other basic schools in the parish and indeed the wider Jamaica, are aspiring to emulate.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct acronym for the Early Childhood Commission (ECC).