Wed | Nov 25, 2020

Former ‘failed school’ hits it big in CSEC, CAPE passes

Published:Friday | October 16, 2020 | 12:07 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
The Marcus Garvey Technical High School in St Ann’s Bay.
The Marcus Garvey Technical High School in St Ann’s Bay.
Marcus Garvey Technical High School principal, Anniona Jones.
Marcus Garvey Technical High School principal, Anniona Jones.

Once denigrated to the level of ‘failed school’ that needed immediate intervention, the Marcus Garvey Technical High School in St Ann’s Bay has, this year, achieved an academic level never before reached in its 33-year history.

The school recorded excellent results in Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), with the CAPE results being particularly impressive, as it was the first results since the sixth-form level was introduced at the school.

Additionally, come November, the school will graduate the first set of students who have successfully completed the associate degree programmes that principal Anniona Jones introduced, leaving her overwhelmed with the progress that has been made since she became principal in 2018.

“Here is the thing that has me so excited. Teachers of tourism, management of business, and physical education at CAPE, they’re doing it for the first time and we had 100 per cent passes for tourism, physical education, entrepreneurship, and then [a] 75 per cent pass [rate] for management of business,” Jones told The Gleaner. Communications studies had a pass rate of 93 per cent.

For the CSEC exams, all the students who sat passed visual arts, theatre arts, technical drawing, mechanical technology, office administration, religious education, geography, and physical education.

Mathematics recorded a 120 per cent rise, English literature improved by 67 per cent, while English language, physics, and biology recorded a 50 per cent increase in passes. There are students who passed as many as eight subjects.

Lowest-everAbsentee Rate

“In the history of the school, this is the lowest absentee rate we ever had (for CSEC). We used to have kids pay for exam and just don’t turn up, but for most subjects, we had 100 per cent of the children who had entered, sitting the exam. We never had that before,” Jones pointed out.

“Last year, it was 108 kids, on average, who used to leave Marcus Garvey without a CSEC. For the first time in the history of the school, we only had 23 students who left without a CSEC. This year, we had children with eight subjects and over 50 per cent of our cohort could actually go on to tertiary study.”

Meanwhile, for the first time, 15 students will graduate next month after completing their associate degree in hospitality and tourism management, which concluded with internships in Negril.

In addition to the associate degree, the students will pick up two additional certificates – a diploma from the American Hospitality and Lodging Institute and a diploma in customer service.

Already, efforts are being made to place them in institutions, locally and overseas, to complete their bachelor’s degree.

Jones outlined to The Gleaner just how she and her team have been able to achieve success at Marcus Garvey Technical High.

“Here is what we did differently. When every other school decided that they were going to do just online, even when school was reopened and the teachers were just going to meet them once or twice, what we did was we called out every teacher from grade seven all the way to sixth form. So, every teacher came in and they just broke the children into small groups, and the teachers just literally went back through – review. We were not depending on one teacher to do 10 or 15 kids, so they got more time with a teacher as the groups were smaller, and that is what works.”

Using Learning to Manage Behaviour

She continued: “We zeroed in on using corona (COVID-19) to pull our team together and to make our relationship and the kids stronger. We zeroed in on a single goal – we’re going to use learning to manage behaviour, learning to tie the team together, learning to motivate the children, and that is how we were able to see the kind of significant improvement that we are witnessing. We decided on a single aim; we were going to pour everything that we had into these kids, and the kids were going to give us a hundred per cent, and that was how we were able to achieve excellence.”

Jones said she is humbled by the change taking place at Marcus Garvey Technical High and refused to take all the credit, showering her entire staff with praise for their input.

“I have a phenomenal team,” Jones said. “My team has made me a better human being, a better person, a better leader. They’re teaching me so much about love and passion and disappointment and grace and mercy, and I am such a better person for having had the opportunity to lead this team at Marcus Garvey Technical. I have an amazing 109 academic staff, I have the most talented 22 administrative staff, not to mention my ancillary workers. They’ve been at work every day; every day. We’ve not had to shut down the school once. We’ve been able to offer exemplary service to our population because of the work of my administrators and my ancillary staff.”