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Mt Zion Prep rebranded - 66-y-o school lowers fee, widens curriculum

Published:Thursday | August 18, 2016 | 12:00 AMCarl Gilchrist
Principal Hugh Johnson painting a section of the Mount Zion Learning Centre in Buckfield, Ocho Rios on Tuesday.


Students returning to 66-year-old Mount Zion Preparatory School in Buckfield, Ocho Rios, for the new school year in September, will see some real changes at the institution.

Hugh Johnson has taken over as principal and has implemented some drastic and welcome changes to the institution.

Among the major changes is a nearly 20 per cent reduction in school fee for the new school year, beginning Monday, September 5.

"Yes, the fee will move from $43,000 down to $35,000, and $30,000 for those who pay on time, so they (parents) will have a reduction of $13,000," Johnson told Rural Xpress.

Johnson explained that he owns the building and so there is no overhead cost for rental. In addition, "I'm not here to make money, I'm here to offer a service," he said.

Other major changes include a renaming of the institution and a broadening of the curriculum.




The institution has been renamed Mount Zion Learning Centre and will continue to cater to infant and prep-school age students, at three years old, but will also cater to older students, up to adulthood.

"We plan to have evening classes as well as some trade [training] and some certification for those who want to go abroad, on a programme from HEART Trust. We really want to make a multidisciplinary centre so [that] we can appeal to a larger volume of people, from ages three up to 30 and even beyond.

"We're looking at also having a literacy section for individuals who are not so fluent in reading. we [would] have them in a separate section to give them a little more privacy."

Mount Zion Learning Centre has also added swimming, tennis, chess and Spanish to the curriculum and expects to start making an impression in the annual Spelling Bee competition.

When Rural Xpress visited the school on Tuesday, Johnson was busy with workmen renovating the facility, himself painting a section of a classroom.

"Students coming in September can expect technological advancement, for example, we will have some smart boards, we'll be looking at using powerpoint presentations, a little more engaging than the chalk and talk. I'm optimistic and we hope the people will see the offering and get on board. We have experienced teachers who will be able to deliver quality teaching."

With 84 students on roll last academic year, Johnson is expecting a rise in that number in the prep school department, with the projected addition of new students for the new courses.