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‘Young principal transforms St James’ Lethe Primary

By GLENIS ROSE

Sunday, December 29, 2013    

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AS a young, vibrant and exceptionally dedicated educator, Anthony Murray, principal of Lethe Primary School in St James, has gained the respect of his colleagues and associates, as he advances the educational development of the children.

Murray became principal of the school in September 2011, and immediately set about transforming the struggling institution, with the support of the entire staff and community.

He developed several plans and policies relating to health and sanitation, nutrition, school improvement, disaster management, school assessment and reading. He also implemented punctuality, assessment, disciplinary and students' governance policies at the school.

Under his leadership, students' performance in the Grade 4 Literacy and Numeracy Tests and the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) improved significantly. At Grade 4, the school's literacy rate moved from 32 per cent in 2011 to 58 per cent in 2012 and to 62 per cent in 2013.

For numeracy, the school moved from a low of 17 per cent when he took over in 2011 to 51 per cent in 2012 and 55 per cent in 2013.

At Grade 3, some 68 per cent of his students are at the level of mastery. Between Grades 4 and 6, where most of the students were at the non-mastery level in 2011, all but one student, who has been cited for special intervention, are now at the level of mastery or near mastery. At the Grade 6 level, Murray has been instrumental in achieving improvement in every subject area since 2011.

The principal has been commended for his rebuilding efforts at the institution, not only in the area of academics, but also in the physical structure, which has been considerably upgraded over the last three years.

He has successfully reroofed the staff room, repainted the entire school, established security fencing around the school compound, thereby eliminating the danger to students posed by the Great River, which runs adjacent to the school.

Murray has also received support from the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and business community to paint attractive and educational murals on the walls of the institution, and to purchase five computers for the school's reading intervention programme.

Recently, the principal established partnerships with the Rotary Club to equip the school with 16 computers and with the Universal Service Fund to construct a computer room at the school.

He has also partnered with the Sandals International Group, which has provided materials to the school to create individual classrooms; and with the PetroCaribe Fund to construct modern sanitation facilities for the students.

Murray was born in Kellits, Clarendon, and attended the Rhoden Hall Basic School, Staceyville All-Age, Edwin Allen High and Clarendon College.

In his quest to impact and mould young lives, he enrolled at the Sam Sharpe Teachers' College in Granville, St James, where in 2004 he obtained a Diploma in Primary Education. While at Sam Sharpe, Murray served as Student Council president for two years and was a member of the college's Board of Management.

To further his education, he pursued a Bachelor of Education degree at the International University of the Caribbean.

Murray joined the staff of the John Rollins Success Primary School in 2004 and was promoted to senior teacher shortly afterwards. He also served as grade, inventory, maintenance and graduation committee coordinator.

In 2008, the ambitious educator was seconded to the Ministry of Education as a cluster-based numeracy specialist, where he worked assiduously to improve numeracy at the schools assigned to him.

Murray's passion for quality education continued to grow and in 2010 he joined the staff of the Early Childhood Commission as the development officer responsible for zones 22 and 23.

His strong commitment to community development has been well documented. He is an executive member of the East Central St James Education Committee, chairman of the East Central Sports and Cultural Committee and board member of the Cornwall Holiness Community Centre management team.

In 2006, Murray was selected as the LASCO/Ministry of Education Teacher of the Year for Region 4 and awarded a Certificate of Excellence for outstanding contribution to education. In November 2013, Murray gained the first runner-up award in the LASCO/Ministry of Education Principal and Teacher of the Year Awards.

At a recent ceremony, Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites presented Murray with the Jamaica Teaching Council/Ministry of Education and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Leadership in Education Award, for distinguished service to education in Jamaica.

Murray told JIS News that he was humbled, elated and honoured to have been selected for the prestigious award.

"I want to thank the Jamaica Teaching Council for choosing me for this prestigious award. In 2011, I took up the challenge when I accepted an offer from the Board of Management of the then Lethe All- Age School to be principal. Not long afterwards, the school started to experience a number of changes and started reaping numerous successes," he said.

The principal said that the Lethe Primary School's improvement plan, intended for completion in four years, have been completed in half the time.

— JIS

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