Easter bonanza

Approximately 50 academic and ancillary staff at Iris Gelly Primary School, in the tough inner-city community of Arnett Gardens, on Wednesday received Easter gift packages from Rainforest Seafoods.

Director of marketing and corporate affairs at Rainforest Seafoods Roger Lyn, who handed over the packages, told the Jamaica Observer that the company was pleased to be able to offer a helping hand to the staff at the school.

“This is a continuation of our partnership with Iris Gelly. For some time now Rainforest has adopted the school… so this is just another in a series of things which we have done to help the school community,” said Lyn.

“Right now, given what’s happening, and even though teachers are working remotely from home, they are still committed to the education of our children, and this is just one of the ways in which we can reach out to them.

“Despite the challenges for all of us, this is just a small way of reaching out to them and just letting them know that they are still on our minds and we acknowledge the good work that they continue to do,” added Lyn as he handed over the gift bags with a variety of Rainforest products.

In accepting the gift packages the school’s principal, Claude Rowe, applauded the company for its support over the years.

“Rainforest has always been one of our supporters… and once again they have come forward,” said Rowe.

A similar sentiment was voiced by grade six teacher Kemoy Smellie. He told the Observer that staff members were grateful for the gesture from Rainforest.

“We truly appreciate them and we hope that this relationship will go a very far way,” said Smellie.

But even as they welcomed the donation from Rainforest, the two educators remained concerned about their students who have been out of the classroom for months, and who are struggling with online learning.

“It has been rough. With the online schooling we find that a lot of our students, probably about 40 per cent, are not consistently being engaged,” said Rowe.

“So we have reached out to all of our supporters and past students begging tablets and other gadgets. From time to time we also allow students to drop off their work for teachers to mark, but it has been very hard.

“As you would know, this community is an inner city [and] the average socio-economic situation is on the lower end, therefore to have consistent credit to be online every day is a challenge, but we find creative ways to get around it,” said the recently appointed principal.

For Smellie, his greatest concern is for the students who are preparing for Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exam in weeks.

“It has been challenging because we are not getting the full cohort of students to come on the online platform because of Internet connectivity issues, device issues and myriad other issues that the teachers don’t know about.

“And even when we are online a lot of them are not participating online so we don’t know if true learning is taking place, so it is very, very difficult. It is rough because each situation presents itself differently, so we are hoping and we are praying that with hard work and dedication we will get this set of students to perform to their best,” added Smellie.

Over the past decade Iris Gelly has recorded an almost constant uptick in the performance of its students in exit exams.

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