Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer
From being told they cannot read and will just have to pass through the education system to now being fully literate, students at Rose-Heart Preparatory School in Montego Bay, St James, are getting a new lease on life through mastering literacy.
"A lot of our students who come to us are from the public school system who have been deemed illiterate and through our intervention have gone on to excel in their Grade Six Achievement Test," said principal Nordia Smith-Merchant.
Smith-Merchant, who spent seven years in the public-education system before her stint at Rose-Heart Prep, added her reading programme is so successful that some of her grade-one students are able to read at the grade-eight level.
With a student population of 90 children - broken down into groups of 15 per class - she, along with her teaching staff, understands the mammoth task in teaching students who have been 'written off' by society.
"We place a heavy emphasis on phonics and the use of computer-learning equipment such as Leap Frog, especially for children who are not learning through the traditional methods," said Smith-Merchant.
"Since 2009, Rose-Heart Prep has achieved a 100 per cent literacy rate to the point where our students are reading ahead of their required level."
follow up on progress
She encouraged parents to follow up with their child's class teacher within the public-school system to evaluate if the child is performing at the level they should be, and if there needs to be intervention in getting them up to par in the academics.
"One of our students' parents was told by a grade-four teacher that her son would just have to pass through the system because he had failed the literacy test twice and was bound to fail GSAT if he was allowed to have it taken," she noted.
"We have worked with the child and we are proud to say that child is 100 per cent literate."