Brand new beginning for Green Pond Primary and Infant School
Principal Venessa Popkin-Addison was elated as she looked at the newly renovated infant division at the Green Pond Primary and Infant School in St James. On Thursday, October 15, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), and the Digicel Foundation officially presented the building to Popkin-Addison and her team.
For the last four yeas, Digicel Foundation has worked to get schools certified with the ECC by renovating and upgrading facilities to meet the ECC’s 12 standards. Due to budgetary restrictions, Digicel was unable to take on the Green Pond project in 2019, but committed to doing the school this year.
“Persistence has paid off for principal Popkin-Addison and her team,” said Charmaine Daniels, CEO of the Digicel Foundation. “This school exemplifies what it means to work together as a community; and together with the ECC we’re creating a world where no child gets left behind, and every child has access to quality education.”
Reverend Wayne Smith, who was the chairperson when the Digicel Foundation first looked at the school, was pleased.
“We have so many private schools in Montego Bay that are doing well. We wanted Green Pond Primary and Infant School, as a government school, to offer the same kind of environment, services and education,” said Smith. “It is really heartwarming – our dream has become a reality.”
Among the renovations done to the school were the reroofing the facility, repainting the entire school, adding murals, landscaping around the front of the school, adding a new playground with safety fencing, repaving the driveway, upgrading the kitchen, tiling classrooms, and renovating the bathrooms to accommodate wheelchairs.
“Just driving in, I felt emotional,” said Popkin-Addison. She had shared her vision for the school in 2019 – a more colourful atmosphere to stimulate young minds. “This was a dream that we didn’t have the funds for, but God heard our prayers and sent help in the form of the Digicel Foundation.’”
Teachers are now using the facility to host virtual lessons, but look forward to seeing students back in the classroom once the Government deems it safe, given the current pandemic. Looking to the future, Dr Tracy-Ann Morgan-Smith, regional supervisor, Early Childhood Commission, offered some sound advice to members of the school.
“When we invest, we want the best. With such an investment comes accountability and responsibility,” said Morgan-Smith, who oversees 2,709 schools with a view to creating access and equity in both the urban and rural areas. “We want every child in Jamaica to have access to quality early-childhood education in environments that are conducive for best outcomes. When we visit Green Pond in two to three years, the school should look just like it did at this opening.”
The Green Pond Primary and Infant School is slated for certification by the close of this school term.