Tue | Dec 10, 2019

Tivoli Gardens celebrates 50 years … West Kingston institution lauded for transformation

Published:Sunday | September 29, 2019 | 12:31 AMNadine Wilson-Harris - Staff Reporter
Marvin Johnson, acting principal of Tivoli Gardens High School.
Tivoli Gardens High School in West Kingston.
Tivoli Gardens High School in West Kingston

For Marvin Johnson, data speak volumes, and from all indications, the numbers have been pointing in the right direction for the Tivoli Gardens High School, which he took charge of over a year ago.

Johnson was appointed acting principal of the West Kingston-based institution following the retirement of Aldrick Durant last year June. Durant had been credited for transforming the institution, which in the past struggled to attract students.

The negative image attached to the school is gradually becoming a thing of the past, as reports on the progress of the institution have been silencing naysayers.

“We are [using a lot more data now]. Data underscores my engagement as a principal and it tells you what direction you are to head in,” Johnson told The Sunday Gleaner.

“If you are going the wrong way, you can put contingencies in place to mitigate against that, so I use data for everything. I have the students’ performance, I can tell you how they have performed, how many days they are late, how many days they are absent. I can tell you the percentage pass internally and externally for the teachers. I know the literacy rate of all my students and the rate at which they come to us, so the data is used to address the learning needs of our students.”

Johnson’s approach as an educator has impressed many, including several other principals in the Corporate Area and interim Education Minister Karl Samuda.

“He has apparently introduced a new system of management to the school and the school is showing positive results as a consequence,” Samuda said, before adding, “We have had a meeting with principals for the Corporate Area schools and they spoke glowingly of Johnson’s initiatives, so the school itself is coming along quite nicely; we are pleased with how he is performing.”


Samuda said the acting principal has managed to garner the support of his staff for various initiatives, which for him is a sign of good leadership.

“He has introduced systems of accountability and general management of the place. He attends to detail and he keeps the staff aware of what is going on and solicits their support, and he is receiving it,” Samuda said.

Johnson has spent his entire teaching career at the Tivoli Gardens High School, starting out as a Spanish, French and mathematics teacher 20 years ago, and gradually moved up the ranks.

“I do have an insider perspective and that gives me an advantage in terms of how I treat with, and debunk cultures and school ethos that are not positive,” he said.

The institution will today celebrate its 50th anniversary at a ceremony in the school’s auditorium, and Johnson feels there is a lot to celebrate.

“When we look at the data, our literacy data is showing that we have moved our students for the most part at least two or three grade levels. Last year data is showing that the majority of our students, when they did the pretests, were reading at grade five, and by the end of the pretest, the majority were reading at grade six,” he explained.

The principal credits the school’s success to the commitment and dedication of its staff, which he said goes beyond the call of duty, and noted that some of the parents were very supportive and try to contribute in their own way to the institution.

“We have a long way to go, but I can tell you that with the help of the almighty God, we will indeed make significant progress here at Tivoli Gardens High School,” Johnson proclaimed.