Gardens for Peace and Maths at Toll Gate Primary

Monday, January 14, 2019

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May Pen , Clarendon — For a first time visitor to Toll Gate Primary and Infant School, among the earliest impressions is trees.

In a relatively confined space, trees are everywhere and some have been around for a very long time.

“We have some seriously old trees,” boasted Vice-Principal Stanford Green when the Jamaica Observer central visited in early November last year.

“Sometimes when the older, past students come to visit what they remember most is this tree or that tree,” he said with a chuckle.

The easy acceptance of the natural environment led, last year to the creation of gardens targeting conflict resolution and the easier embrace of mathematics.

Principal Dr Carol Brown-Clarke credited the leaders of her Guidance Counselling Unit and the Mathematics Unit for their enterprise in establishing the gardens. There was also significant help from the wider community, including Juici Patties, which provided seating for the children as part of that company's extensive community outreach programme.

“We said if we can have a garden, the children may feel better learning on the outside from time to time. Now we are able to seat the children and even have classes on the outside,” Brown-Clarke said as she explained the idea behind the Maths Garden.

Guidance Counsellor Viviene Gordon recalled that the idea of the Peace Garden came from a grade three student.

“We were having a meeting of the K-Kids Club (linked to Kiwanis Service Club) and we were discussing how to deal with conflict resolution among children at the school and the student said 'Miss, let's start a Peace Garden' and that's how we got started,” she said.

Gordon said that since the creation of the Peace Garden in the shade of a large, old cashew tree, students having anger issues are quick to sit in the designated area, talk about their problems and cool off.

“It's a big help,” she said.

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