The student becomes the teacher

The student becomes the teacher

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

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In times of adversity, there are some who rise to the challenge to help others in need. The following is the latest in the Jamaica Observer series, COVID-19 Kindness, highlighting one of those who have risen to the challenge.

“One day I was home and a parent asked me if I could teach her daughter, and I said yes and the following Monday she came, then other children came,” 21-year-old Mico University student Gizzel Young told the Jamaica Observer.

She was explaining the chain of events that led to her converting her living room into a makeshift classroom. “I started off with three students and then within a few weeks I had five more,” she added.

She initially came up with the idea as a way to raise funds to cover her school fees when classes resume at Mico in September. It quickly grew into much more as she was determined not to make cost be a barrier to those in need. Some of her students attend free of cost, others pay a small fee. She finds the experience of helping others so rewarding that she is hoping others will do their part to help persons in St Andrew's Rock Hall community where she lives.

Some parents have welcomed Young's initiative as it provided much needed support in coping with the ongoing suspension of the formal education system as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has opened up a room in her home to students in the rural community as parents await the planned reopening of schools.

Young explained that there are currently nine students – aged three to 13 – attending her classes, and she keeps them engaged with the core subject areas provided by their teachers via popular virtual conferencing platforms, as well as physical activities.

“I'm always having fun with the work,” said nine-year-old Kallai Brown, a student of Rock Hall All-Age. She was among those who expressed their excitement and gratitude at being able to continue their studies under Young's guidance. Five-year-old Daniel Christie, also a student of Rock Hall All-Age, said he, too, was enjoying the experience, with colouring being one of his favourite activities each day. Meanwhile, five-year-old Carissa Merchant of Rock Hall Basic School said she enjoys lessons in art, and 11-year-old student of Maverley Primary, Rajheen Laing, said he is particularly interested in mathematics lessons and he appreciates Young's efforts.

Parents also sang Young's praises. Clovia Warren, one of the parents whose child is benefiting from the initiative, is among those impressed with her efforts. “So far [my daughter] is doing well... she couldn't pronounce words as how she is supposed to and she didn't know a lot of things, and now I am so proud of her, and her dad [is also proud],” Warren told the Observer. “Gizzel is excellent! I heard people talking about her on the street, that's why I decided to send my daughter there. [The initiative is] so good for the community. We welcome her!”

Young was modest in her reaction to all the praise. For her, she is just doing something that needed to be done. “I just wanted every child to get the opportunity. If there was just someone to take one child and help that child they can accomplish something great, so I just wanted to help them do their best to achieve their goals...so far they are doing well,” she said.

The university student emphasised that she has ensured adherence to strict hand-washing and sanitisation protocols, as she understands the importance of ensuring the safety of each child, and by extension their families, as well as her own personal safety.


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