After two years as Principal of Abaco Central High School in Murphy Town, Arthur Jones is being posted back on Grand Bahama.
In a final interview before he leaves Abaco, the principal recalled the challenges he has faced upon taking over control of the large high school ( 603 students last year) and the goals he had set for the school, should be continued.
When he arrived on Abaco, he said he was assaulted with negative reports from the community. But “after getting my hands wet, I thought they were not justified, as far as negativity,” he said. “Negative footprints in high schools are more usual than thought”, he commented.
A first assessment showed him that the morals were low. There was a lack of confidence emanating from the community, so the first thing he wanted to do was to get the students’ confidence up and to instill in them a sense of pride. For that he had to get help from the teachers and convinced them that the students were worth being challenged. He wanted them to push the kids.
He soon realized they had talents, in poetry, arts, sports, singing; talents that could be harnessed and showcased, then the academics would follow. A school song was composed to awaken their pride in the high school.
His theme for the first year was “rise to the challenge.” For the second year it became: “rising to the standard.” According to the Principal, the teachers raised their level too.
“If the community and home is out of whack, let’s make the school a safe place for them,” was Jones’ philosophy in response to their excuses.
For the year 2010-2011, 80 percent of the students in Grade 12 graduated. That number is up five percent over last year.
His goals for the future were to try to enroll more help from the males in the community and give the students a direction to follow, especially the boys. He would have tried to establish clubs within the school such as Kiwanis or Interact. He hopes that BTVI will implement permanent programs on Abaco to give students a different avenue of learning.
During the first year in tenure, he assessed the discipline and violence problems as controllable. Last school year, the discipline was fine but not the violence. The problems inside the school were more difficult to control. He detected a feeling outside in the community that allowed the kids a greater sense of freedom; they were not afraid to accept the consequences of their actions. It also transpired that the male figures in their lives acted more as friends than parents.
If he had been given more time, Mr. Jones would have tried to get strong programs to involve the boys and keep track of them. He would have had more community institutions such as churches, the police, and social services help. Before his return to Grand Bahama, he is working on leaving a program in place for September.
Besides a new Principal, a Vice-Principal and three new teachers will join the staff of Abaco Central High School for the year 2012-2013 to replace Kevin Hepburn, Laverne Cooper, Marino and Philippa Farrington.