“Educate Students to Create Long Time Learners” is the District of Education’s theme for this school year. In order to actualize this theme, a National Administrator’s Conclave is to walk through a series of training sessions to become familiar with the McRel Balance Leadership Program. A program created to have leaders in education being able to adapt to an ever changing environment that requires higher expectations, greater accountability, rapid increase in information, public scrutiny, and work overload.
Therefore, the role of leaders in front of these new expectations has to change. Leaders have to meet increasingly complex changes and have to relentlessly focus on improving students’ achievement. Principals cannot face these new requirements alone so there should be a sharing of leadership.
Dr. Black, District Superintendent of Education, explained that there is to be leadership at every level, from teachers, grade level heads, coordinators, supervisors, district administrators and national leaders. She is hence looking to have more success on every level while ensuring that the program is applied in every school to produce quality teaching, engaging parents and communities in the process.
Besides restructuring the role of educators, focus will also be directed on attendance. Data sheets are being filled to see where students who have not turned up to school are. Soon, she said, there will be a computer program to see where students are missing. Dr. Black wants parents to make sure that their children are attending school. She demands parents’ participation in the education of their children as well as the community’s engagement. Newsletters to reach out will be sent to Churches and Local Government offices, among other entities, so everybody focus on the same goal.
The improvement of Abaco students in the BJC examination was mentioned at the conclave, she said, but the District Superintendent mentioned that students not making the national standard during grade 9 year will have the opportunity to make up during the next three grades.
Another boost to local education is the establishment of The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute with courses being offered now in Beauty Trades, Construction Trades, Electronic Trades, Information Technology, Business Trades and Mechanical Trades. Application forms can be picked up at Abaco Central High School or at the Department of Education Office. Classes will be held after school, in conjunction of Public Service Assisting for officers who would not have the necessary educational requirement.
Internally, the District is advocating working with objectives and measuring attainable realistic goals. A monthly time limit will be required to assess results that will be at the center of conversations during meetings. If change is necessary, based on data, it will be made.
Dr. Black would like to encourage students to have their mind set on post-secondary education. To stimulate students’ focus on college education, a workshop to familiarize students with colleges was held at the Chapel at Agape Christian School on Friday, September 16. The event was sponsored by the United States Embassy with representatives of three junior colleges moderating the event.
Dr. Black explained that the Ministry of Education has invested heavily in sharing opportunity for college. It is the exclusive job of Monique Hensey, an employee of the Ministry, to go after scholarships to be offered to deserving students. There are also students achievement units in the Department of Education to follow students’ performances to determine likely candidates for scholarships.
Some Abaco schools have received new leadership this school year. Three schools have welcomed new principals. At Abaco Central High School, former Senior Mistress Ethelene McIntosh has replaced Ricardo Ferguson. A former primary school student of Dr. Black, Bridgeann McIntosh, has joined the staff of Cooper’s Town Primary School and Kirsten Musgrove is now the Principal of Crossing Rocks Elementary School.