New day dawns at Steer Town Academy
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
The second school of excellence to open in Jamaica, Steer Town Academy, which is temporarily housed in the newly built Mansfield Primary School in St Ann, started operations on Monday with no hitches.
"We had an excellent start this morning. We had absolutely no problem and we're not anticipating any," principal Sonia Nevins said when The Gleaner visited the institution to get a first-hand view of operations there.
The new school has 482 students, divided into 19 classes - 10 for grade seven and nine for grade nine. Grade seven students, who were successful in their Grade Six Achievement Test, account for 257 enrolees. Grade nine students, drawn from those who sat the Grade Nine Achievement Test, number 225.
Students are drawn from various communities, including Steer Town, Chalky Hill and Moneague.
There are 26 teachers among the total staff complement of 49.
Students at the institution are considered struggling recruits who were placed at the school by the Ministry of Education in a new development that seeks to boost learning capacity.
"No child will be left behind at Steer Town Academy. I think we're going to achieve something great here. Everything we do here is really to bring out the best in the students," said Nevins, who has Kelly Rowe as vice-principal.
Apart from academics, students will also be nurtured in socially acceptable behaviour.
This process has already started, with students being mandated to use knives and forks at the dining room. Students and teachers dine together, eating from the same pot, except for those who may carry their own lunch.
Security is also in place at the new facility.
The Gleaner reporter was given a pass (ticket) and asked to sign a register in order to enter the compound. Entry and exit times were recorded.
The new structure being built at Steer Town in the parish is expected to be completed by year end, at which time operations will move to the new location, leaving the current building for its original purpose.
Elsewhere in St Ann, schools randomly checked by The Gleaner reported no hiccups. Despite an admission by principal Geoffrey Sharpe, of Aabuthnott Gallimore High, that the school could do with a few more desks, he said reopening was "quite smooth".
Fairly problem-free resumption
Johnallson Feraria, principal of Brown's Town High, said his school had "all engines running", while Tacky High principal Errol Bascoe reported a fairly problem-free resumption, with only fifth-formers reporting on Monday. By Friday, school should be functioning fully, he said.
At Marcus Garvey Technical, Oracabessa High and St Mary High, administrators indicated a seamless restart.
At the primary level, Gayle, Oracabessa, Ocho Rios, Runaway Bay, Brown's Town, and St Ann's Bay schools also reported problem-free resumption and no shortages.
"Things went quite smoothly this morning. We settled in very nicely, there were no hitches. We expect it to be no different for the afternoon shift," Marlyn Thomas said of St Ann's Bay Primary.
She said the school was fully staffed and there was no shortage of furniture for the more than 1,500 students.