TWO years ago, 80 Sandals Foundation volunteers opted to become mentors for grade five students at the Boscobel and Parry Town primary schools; a year later, the initiative has reaped rich dividends.
Students at Parry Town Primary have received outstanding results from the Grade Six Achievement Test and secured places at prominent high schools while Boscobel Primary students have showed encouraging results.
They have credited, at least in part, the work of the mentors, who were drawn from Sandals Grande Riviera, Beaches Ocho Rios and Sandals Royal Plantation.
At the recent Parry Town Primary School graduation, valedictorian Samoya Miller was full of praise for them and thanked them on behalf of her fellow students. At his graduation ceremony, Dia Pottinger, the valedictorian from Boscobel Primary, also praised the mentors for the support and guidance they provided.
The Sandals Foundation Homework Mentorship programme 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 their annual GSAT examinations.
In outlining the reasons for the initiative, Heidi Clarke, director of programmes at the Sandals Foundation, which has adopted the schools, 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."
"Our team of volunteers came alongside our partners to work specifically with the students to provide additional motivation and academic support, with a desire to see improvement in the attitude and aptitude of the child [and] recorded intangible improvements in the students' quality of academic," she added.
The programme saw a volunteer mentor working closely with a student and assisting them through their preparation for the GSAT exam. This was done through contact time during each term. The mentor also developed a disciplined relationship with his/her mentee through meetings and the keeping of proper records as directed.
Brian Roper, general manager for Sandals Grande Riviera, who is one of the volunteer mentors, said he had enjoyed being a part of the programme and will once again volunteer his services for the coming year.
"I didn't think twice about volunteering. 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," he said.
The programme also seeks to encourage a positive attitude in students toward the learning experience, both at home and at school, through building students' confidence and self-esteem.