The Principal and the teachers of the St George’s Primary School worked extremely hard to ensure that the students were able to return to a comfortable environment following the passage of Irma and Maria.
Now that the school has reopened Cherilyn Anderson, the Principal of the St George’s Primary School does not anticipate that the four weeks that were lost as a result of the passage of hurricane Irma will adversely affect her students. In fact, the Principal stated that the teachers of the school are working hard to move the curriculum forward and plans to utilize a week of the upcoming Christmas vacation to make up for lost time.
In an interview with The Island Sun newspaper the Principal explained that the teachers, parents, church members and even members of the UK military worked extremely hard for a week to prepare the school for students’ arrival. However, it was noted that not only was the preparation carried out on the building, but also on the lesson plans and curriculum to ensure that the students are not disadvantaged by the disaster.
“What we have done here apart from getting the physical building ready for school for our students, is come in to discuss what is happening in terms of cleanup. The meeting also examined what is going to happen in terms instruction,” Ms. Anderson explained.
Considering the dismal state hurricane Irma left the school compound in, the Principal said that she is now pleased that as a unified body the school staff has banded together to open the doors in a short time: “When you walk around, apart from seeing a few broken windows here and there you would think nothing ever happened because teachers have been teaching and they are moving with it,” Ms. Anderson pointed out.
The psychological effects of the devastating category five hurricane has not escaped the Principal who announced that Dr. Rubaine visited the school to speak with the educators and that the educators have created a special program to assist the students in dealing with what they went through. “We have included one thing on our usual time table, a program called SMILE that we developed here to help the students cope with what just happened,” the Principal explained.
SMILE is an acronym where the S means Sharing and students are encouraged to share what has happened to them. M means Manage and as part of this area students are given little tips and strategies that they can use to help them manage. I is for Interact and the teachers allow the students to interact with each other to foster peer experience exchange.
L means Laugh, and this she says caters to ensuring that the students get a little laughter. E is for Embrace and the Principal explained that this area is necessary because the situation following Irma is new to the students so the Embrace aspect of the program is expected to assist them to deal with what has happened.
“This is a little program that we developed we came up with the idea. I thought of it, I threw it at the teachers — they helped me come with the idea and the different verbs to come up with it and we took it and ran with it. We have been working with it and every day the last 30 minutes of the day will be devoted to SMILE to take care of those activities, to help bring those children back to a level of normalcy.”
Ms. Anderson said that the school is also utilizing the UNICEF Return to Happiness programme which is being piloted in the by the school’s music teacher.