Farm Primary and Junior High School gets library upgrade

Published:Saturday | July 26, 2014 | 7:00 AM

Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:Victor Newsome, principal of the Farm Primary and Junior High School, says the upgrading of the school's library, by the Texas-based Teaching with Jamaica Group, will serve to boost the institution's literacy programme.

Newsome was speaking at the Library Dedication and Celebration ceremony, held at the school recently, under the theme: 'Reading is the Key to Success'.

"I see this as an opportunity to move the school forward as it relates to literacy and accessing information. Our students in this community have limited access to resources and having a library will give them a greater opportunity to obtain information that they need to learn," said Newsome.

He said the new initiative is aimed at creating a successful school in the near future and having such a well-equipped library will give the administration and staff an opportunity to achieve that objective earlier than projected.

GSAT performance

"Our GSAT performance has improved by six per cent over last year. Majority of the students who sat the test got their school of choice or second choice. Now, with added resources and the calibre of students that we have, we are looking for a 10 per cent increase for the next academic year," Newsome added.

Patti Gilbert, team leader of the Teaching with Jamaica Group, said they were motivated to assist with upgrading the library due to Newsome's passion for education and the fact that reading was vital to the students' success at the school.

"God blessed us with two librarians, and they requested dimensions for the library and based on the expertise of the group's librarians we were told that we would need 3,000 books. We however collected more than 6,000 books and here we are with this wonderful library," said Gilbert.

Pastor David Falconer of Jamaica Link Ministries, which facilitated the partnership between Teaching with Jamaica and the Farm Primary and Junior High School, said he was happy that the change makers were able to have a positive impact on the school.

This Article is courtesy of the Jamaica Gleaner

Article about teacher giving up her vacation to support TWJ
An article about Charity fundraising for TWJ

Rucker Elementary School kindergarten teacher Robyn Kovarick will be spending time in Jamaica this summer to teach rather than vacation. She has joined “Teaching with Jamaica,” a program to help teachers learn better skills to teach Jamaica’s youngsters.

Kovarick traveled last summer with her husband to Jamaica. “It’s our favorite place to go,” she said.

While there in July, Kovarick learned that students in the Jamaican schools must take a test in the sixth grade which will determine the rest of their lives. Based on the results of that test, students will go on to further education or be required to leave school to learn an occupation, and opportunities for further education will be finished.

Kovarick said that touched her heart, and when she came home from vacation she began looking for ways to help. Kovarick’s search took her to Teaching with Jamaica where she found a home and a place to volunteer to make a difference.

Teach With Jamaica was founded in 2006, by a teacher named Karla Hughes Cass, who had served as a summer missionary to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Through daily interaction with area teachers and children she saw a need for additional educational support. Teachers there do not get training and support to teach the way they do in the United States. They have very limited resources, and even books are scarce to the point that one book has to be passed around the class.

Through discussions with the leadership team of Jamaica Link Ministries, a partnership was formed to support Jamaican teachers by holding an annual educational conference. With the tremendous help of fellow Texas teachers who share the vision of supporting Jamaican educators, Teach With Jamaica was formed. It later became known by its current title, Teaching With Jamaica. There is now an annual conference to help Jamaican teachers hone their skills.

The group’s mission statement includes a Bible verse from Isaiah 6:8: “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”

Donna Walsh, a McKinney teacher, and her daughter-in-law Becky Walsh have been members of the TWJ program for a number of years. Donna Walsh is part of the early childhood team, while Becky Walsh helps manage the group’s funds and logistics. They presented the TWJ program to Prosper Rotary on Feb. 25.

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var slotToInject={slotName:"articleInjectAd",ad_type:"Rich Media",sov:"base ROS",outofpage:"articleinject",creative_format:"Outstream Video",slotTrigger:"articleInject",slotTriggerType:"class"};; Donna Walsh explained that most of the teachers in Jamaica go into the classroom with very little training for educators. Not only is their training limited but resources are just as limited. She said she witnessed one teacher making a class worksheet for her students. Through conversation she learned that teacher would have to copy that worksheet by hand for each student in her class.

“We take so much for granted,” Donna Walsh said.

Showing a video of past conferences where the Texas teachers were in the Jamaica classrooms with the Jamaica teachers and their students, it was pointed out that the walls are decorated with Bible verses in the public-school classrooms. Walsh noted the irony that the teachers in Jamaica see the U.S. schools as deprived because God is not allowed in the classrooms and the Texas teachers see Jamaican teachers are deprived because of a lack of resources.

At last year’s conference there were 128 attendees, and TWJ shipped more than 7,000 pounds of supplies ahead of the event. Walsh said many of the teachers walk for miles just to get there for the additional training. Currently, the TWJ program is only in the Montego Bay area. Looking forward, program organizers hope to add more teachers for the summer conferences to enable additional conferences in other areas.

Kovarick will likely continue her service with TWJ. However, teachers must fund their own travel and expenses and most are involved in supply drives like the one going on this week at Rucker. Anyone is welcome to drop off supplies at Rucker to help support the program.

More information is available on the Teaching with Jamaica Facebook page. Requests for information will be answered through email at

Rocketeer Charity | Teaching with Jamaica

by Bottle Rocket

Every month, Rocketeers select a charity to support. Driven by employee nominations, these organizations represent the passion Bottle Rocket has for giving back to the community around us. For June, that charity is Teaching with Jamaica.

Teaching with Jamaica was founded in 2006, to support teachers and children in Montego Bay, Jamaica. TWJ saw a need for additional educational support. Through discussions with the leadership team of Jamaica Link Ministries (JLM) a partnership was formed to support Jamaican teachers by holding an annual educational conference. With the tremendous help of a group of Texas teachers who share the vision of supporting Jamaican educators.

In addition to the teaching conference TWJ brings supplies to teachers for their personal use as well as organizing the construction of 3 fully-stocked libraries and supporting volunteers at the Robin’s Nest Children’s home in the mountains above Montego Bay.

Susan Polansky, wife of Rocketeer Adam Polansky, has been volunteered for five years by collecting supply donations, developing curriculum for the teaching conference and helping coordinate the conference and distribution of supplies.


Learn more about Teaching with Jamaica.

Donate to Jamaica Link Ministries.