(July 23, 2012) Two years ago, 80 Sandals Foundation volunteers from Sandals Grande Riviera, Beaches Ocho Rios (formerly Boscobel) and Sandals Royal Plantation decided to mentor grade five students at the Foundation adopted Boscobel and Parry Town primary schools.
The initiative has now proven to be a tremendous success as the Parry Town students, who recently sat their Grade Six Achievement Tests (GSAT) showed outstanding results with several students securing places at prominent high schools, and Boscobel Primary yielding encouraging results.
At the recent Parry Town Primary School graduation, the valedictorian, Samoya Miller was full of gratitude for the mentors, thanking them on behalf of her fellow students. Meanwhile, Dia Pottinger, Boscobel Primary’s valedictorian, also praised the mentors for the support and guidance they provided.
The Sandals Foundation Homework Mentorship program was developed in an effort to encourage the need to care for children and sought to partner with adopted schools, teachers, parents and students who were preparing for the GSAT, an exam that takes place every year.
In outlining the reasons for the initiative, Heidi Clarke, director of programs at the Sandals Foundation noted: “We are appreciative of the challenges facing our partners through the limited resources at the schools; the challenges experienced by parents and the daily frustrations of many of our children, who do not have adequate support to achieve their full potential.
Clarke pointed out that the Foundation’s volunteers stepped in to motivate students and provide academic support with the expectation of seeing the children’s attitudes become more positive while they improved academically.
The mentorship program saw a volunteer working closely with a student and assisting him or her with GSAT preparations. This was done through contact time during each term. During this course, records were kept and the mentor developed a relationship with his or her mentee through meetings.
Brian Roper, general manager for Sandals Grande Riviera – who is one of the volunteers – said he had enjoyed being a part of the program and will once again volunteer his services for the upcoming school year.
“I didn’t think twice about volunteering,” he said. “I know how challenging it is for students nowadays and any little that I and my team can do to help, we are more than happy to do so.”
In preparing the stakeholders involved in the mentorship program, the Sandals Foundation staged a workshop for mentors, teachers, guidance counselors and students. The Foundation also hosted a parenting workshop.