“All those people who used to say that nothing good could ever come out of Trench Town have to find something else to say now!” said Lorna Stanley, Director of Operation Restoration Christian School in Kingston, Jamaica. Ms Stanley visited Atlanta recently and told supporters about the 100% passing rate of the students taking the Grade Nine Achievement Test (GNAT) this year. “Thirteen students took the test and all 13 passed,” she exclaimed proudly. “Six boys are going to JC! To Jamaica College!” she says as she laughs aloud. (Jamaica College is a prestigious all-boys high school in Kingston, Jamaica.) The magnitude of this accomplishment is even more incredible when one realizes that many of these students were unable to read or even recognize three-letter words when they first started at the school three years ago.
Ms. Stanley is understandably proud of the children’s accomplishments. As the Director of the privately funded remedial school, she has long defended the school’s existence, its goals and its vision –the educational rehabilitation of illiterate teenaged students. “We took these teenagers from ABC to JC, showed them the value and importance of education and changed their lives forever,” Ms. Stanley said. Other students earned placements at Kingston Technical High School, Trench Town High School, Sydney Pagon Agricultural School. The students’ achievements and the director’s pride are even more remarkable when one understands that Operation Restoration Christian School is located in Trench Town, in Kingston’s inner city, in an area long regarded by politicians and “polite society” as a violent ghetto from which no-one escapes. The school, founded in 1994, has remained true to its mission and has been transforming lives from its inception.
Stanley is bursting with pride and does not hesitate to lavish praise and appreciation on the hard work of both the students and their teachers. “This achievement has had a tremendous impact on staff morale,” Ms. Stanley explained. The teachers, who are all recruited from the community, now see themselves in a more positive light and see the results of their efforts to broaden their own education by attending Teacher’s College and then applying the skills they’ve learned in the classroom. “They have gone from unemployment, or holding menial jobs, to contributing participants and increased status as respected members of the community,” Ms. Stanley said.
Operation Restoration Christian School is supported by Atlanta-based Integrity Children’s Fund (ICF) whose mission is to offer hope and opportunity for disenfranchised children in Jamaica. ICF also operates the Joy Town Learning Center - a Basic School making inroads in early childhood education in Trench Town, and Peter’s Rock Preparatory School – a Kindergarten and Elementary school located in the hills of east rural St. Andrew, to educate un-schooled children in the Peter’s Rock Community.
“News like this makes all our hard work worthwhile,” says Integrity Children’s Fund president, Karl Chambers. “It’s a testament to how God can turn anyone and anything in a new direction,” Chambers said. Over the past 7 years ICF has provided more than $250,000 (US) to these communities and hopes to provide educational support for children in all 14 parishes in Jamaica within the next ten years.