Mentorship programme launched at Spot Valley High to curb indiscipline

Thursday, June 07, 2018

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SPOT VALLEY, St James — The Spot Valley High School in St James has launched a mentorship programme for students, many of whom are from the so-called 'troubled' communities in the parish, in an effort to address indiscipline at the school, and in general the parish.

“Most of the challenges that we are faced with are that most of these students come from a low socio-economic status, and they are from areas in and around Montego Bay where people would term these communities as the bad communities, so they don't hear anything positive. We want to provide an avenue at the school for them by giving them positive role models who will help them to mould and shape their lives for the future,” explained Gregory Palmer, the dean of discipline at Spot Valley High.

The programme, which was launched at the school recently, will see outstanding and influential people from across the parish volunteering their service.

The mentors are drawn from a wide cross section of the society, including the church, the tourism industry, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, parent teachers' associations, and the legal community.

Team leader Steven Jennings, who is also the president of the nearby John Rollins Success Primary Parents Teachers' Association (PTA), was happy to accept the challenge when he was asked by Palmer (Gregory) to head the team of volunteers.

“If we can create a situation where we get children, boys specifically, to conform to something different from the norm they are exposed to today, I will be happy,” said Jennings, as he expressed hope that the mentorship programme will be able to make an impact during its first month of operation.

“Even throughout the summer we want to be working with these children, and hopefully come September morning, Mr Palmer (Gregory) will boast that there is a change, a difference, a new wave at Spot Valley High,” he argued.

Sergeant Miguel Palmer, the officer in charge of the Barrett Town Police Station in St James, who said he is aware of some of the challenges that exist at Spot Valley High, stressed that he is also committed to the initiative.

“My assignment at Barrett Town is somewhat recent. However, having come into the area and having come to the school, then I would have realised the challenges that exist there, and with the mentorship programme on stream now, then I am sure that myself and members of the team that I lead out of the Barrett Town Police Station will be able to make a significant impact to what is happening there,” said Sergeant Palmer, noting that there are numerous at-risk students attending the school.

Attorney-at-law Chumu Paris, who is another member of the team, told the Jamaica Observer West that he will be using the opportunity to “prepare students for the job world”.

“Whatever I can bring in terms of my experience to try and guide young people as to what the expectations are in the working world, and what is expected of them to get themselves prepared for the working world, I am willing to do,” said Paris.

“I think that I will have to adopt an approach where I know that I am a part of one of the traditional professions, but to have them (students) develop an open mind in terms of what their true potential is; not necessarily focusing on the traditional professions, but to see how they can apply themselves with their own unique skills.”

The 13-year-old Spot Valley High has done fairly well in several sporting activities including football, track and field and basketball, as well in the cultural arts. The institution has also scored some excellent grades in external examinations.

But Palmer said from “time to time” students may get themselves in trouble with the law which places the school in a negative light.

“As a result, the institution is moving to launch before the start of the new academic year in September a public media awareness club, which will be responsible to provide contents for the major newspapers and television stations in the country. “As I said, there is a lot of positives, and my job as dean of discipline is to make sure that the school is safe and secure and the behaviour of everyone is on par with the right moral standards of Jamaica,” he stressed.

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