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‘If you can’t hack it, get your jacket’ - School leaders urged to push education revolution in Jamaica

Published:Sunday | July 31, 2016 | 7:00 AM
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Earl Jarrett, (right) Chairman of Jamaica National Building Society Foundation chats with Kim Mair, executive director of the Joan Duncan Foundation of the JMMB Group with David Mair, executive director of Food For the Poor in the background at the recent JN Foundation School Leadership Summit.
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United States-based transformational school principal, Salome Thomas-EL is urging local school leaders to ensure that the children under their care leave better than they entered.

The change-maker was addressing more than 350 local school leaders last week at the opening of the JN Foundation School Leadership Summit at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

He reminded the principals, heads of departments, grade coordinators, school board members and senior teachers in attendance that their job was to serve and constantly inspire teachers and students.

"We must all take responsibility for our actions as leaders and ensure that our children experience two things everyday: rigour and joy," Thomas-El sermonised, as he reflected on the theme of the summit: Impact. Innovate. Lead: Join the Education Revolution!

According to Thomas-El, "children must be challenged at the highest level, but they must love it so much that they look forward to coming to school every day. We must be building schools that children are fighting to get into instead of to get out."

 

'SCHOOL LEADERS ARE SERVANTS'

'Principal EL', as Mr Thomas-EL is more popularly known in Delaware, Philadelphia, underscored that school leaders are servants who must help those in their care to become better than they believe they can be.

"Every day, we must do something that helps someone. The rent that we pay on earth is the work that we do ..." he emphasised.

The coach and principal said the education system must look at rewarding teachers who challenge students to think critically and struggle because "struggle is learning."

He affirmed, "we must get mad about what we are doing, because our children need to be engaged before we impart the information. And, we must commit to being innovative; and not do what we have always done, simply because it's what we have always done."

To a soundtrack of applause, he urged school leaders to stand up to their responsibilities as educators; and to begin the revolution by first reflecting on their own roles; as well as, duties to other teachers and students.

"Let's stop praying for a lighter load and praying for a stronger back," said Thomas-El

"There will be accountability, there will be responsibility, but we don't run from that. That's why we took the oath to be school leaders. But there will be those who say, 'I can't hack it', and it will be our responsibility to say to them, if you can't hack it, get your jacket ... because this is a revolution!"

 

JN FOUNDATION LAUDED

He praised the JN Foundation for mounting the two-day summit, which he noted would provide an opportunity to infuse practise.

Speaking at the function Earl Jarrett, chairman of the JN Foundation, said a revolution in education is necessary if Jamaica is to compete effectively, globally.

He noted that it was time for Jamaicans to confront the expectations for students; and said that the JN Foundation's School Leadership Summit was designed to achieve that objective.

"The outcomes begin and end with our expectations, which is called our vision and leadership," said Jarrett as he invited school leaders to join the revolution.