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The approximate six weeks left on the school calendar usually chalk up to being the most challenging, with a high amount of absenteeism and truancy by students, according to Anzlo Strachan, chief school attendance officer in the Ministry of Education. In an effort to stem the tide, school attendance officers have been visiting various schools on New Providence, encouraging students to remain in school and to persevere through their circumstances.
Through the presentations delivered during junior school assemblies at L.W. Young Junior High School, A.F. Adderley Junior High School, Anatol Rodgers High School and D.W. Davis Junior High School, the officers engaged students through skits and songs in an effort to impart the message in a way that students could relate to.
The situation of absenteeism (missing a day or two here and there, sometimes for illness, or with a good reason) and truancy (there is no real reason, the student simply decides they won't go to school) is one that Strachan said is of concern because of the significant number of children that don't attend school at this time of the year.
"The summer is coming up and students feel that it's almost the end of the year. Maybe they didn't do well all year, so they feel they don't have a chance to do anything in the upcoming exams, so they just don't go to school. The kids start to drop out," said Strachan.
According to him, school attendance is always good in September, October and November but starts to wean in February and March.
He said that an average of 900 to 1,000 students on New Providence have skipped school annually for the past 10 years according to their records over just 18 schools. Today, he said the average of female absenteeism and truancy is split almost 50-50 today with their male counterparts in comparison to yesteryear when he said the norm would have been 300 female students to 600 male students.
"If you really look at it, I'm quite certain that we have over 2,000 students right here in New Providence with frequent absenteeism and truancy. And we tend to group truancy and absenteeism when it comes to numbers almost in the same category sometimes, because the bottom line for us -- whether it's absenteeism or truancy -- is that the students just aren't in school," said the attendance officer.
According to Strachan, there are a number of criteria used when determining absenteeism and truancy, the most obvious being when officers notice a pattern developing when a child misses school once per week over a four-week period. "They think they may be hiding from us by doing that, but we look at the registers very carefully," he said. "Then you have situations where a child is absent three or more days over a two-week period without a note or contact from the parent or guardian, so we start to investigate those cases. Those are the more noticeable criteria and are more easily seen and are red flags. Then you may have a child out for actually two weeks," he said.
The challenge then arises for the attendance office, which only has 14 officers (13 in New Providence and one in Grand Bahama), inclusive of Strachan, to locate the students, who may have changed addresses.
With limited officers, Strachan said the task of policing absenteeism and truancy in schools can be difficult, but he said they have other resources to help them do their jobs, including liaising with guidance council departments in the various schools, the police and social services.
The attendance officers also do street patrols with police officers present. The objective of the street patrol is to observe and record the number of students seen on the street in a specific mapped out area or community. Previously, they concentrated on inner city communities, from which the majority of referrals and public complaints were made, however, as recently as last month, they included subdivisions. During patrols, attendance officers observe and speak to area residents to ascertain whether there are students out of school during school hours. The officers collect information on the students, including age, gender, grade school and the reasons for their absence, as well as the students' parents' names; a case file is then assigned to officers.
During a March patrol of Yellow Elder Gardens and parts of Millenium Gardens, the attendance officers encountered six students out of school: five male and one female ranging in age from nine to 17. The reasons given for their absences included not having shoes to wear, fighting and leaving campus as a result, running away from campus without permission, unpaid school fees and awaiting Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary School Examinations. One student attended a private school. The others attended government schools.
Strachan also said that every attendance case has a social issue attached to it; his officers consult school guidance counselors to find out if students are back in school and talk to them about the issues and assisting with keeping children in school.
"Getting a child back in school is one thing. Keeping them there is the real challenge, so you need to get the students involved in programs," he said. Strachan also said it was imperative that a formerly absent or truant student visit his or her guidance counselor's office at least once every two days, or daily, in some cases.
According to Bahamian law, a child can legally leave school one day before their 17th birthday, said Strachan, and not once they've attained the age of 16, as is the popular belief.
The 25-year veteran of the attendance office believes that the increase in absenteeism and truancy is relative. He said school attendance, with the exception of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, is the longest-running social agency in the country, with 130-plus years of existence. Absenteeism and truancy are not new phenomenons, but, Strachan said, in a 21st century, it is important for Bahamians to have an education.
"If you to intend to be successful in life, you must attend school in order to get somewhere in life. And high school is not the end all. Just about every job is requiring some type of certificate. Eventually, as the competition gets stiffer, you're going to need a certificate to collect garbage," said Strachan.
He admitted that there are some students who are uncontrollable and who aren't wanted in schools because they can disrupt the entire system. He said those children, depending on their circumstances, aren't left to fend for themselves, but are sent programs that cater to their needs.
The chief attendance officer said his unit is in the process of producing infomercials to educate students on why they should not cut school. He said the unit is also developing a website where students will be able to find answers to their questions, if they are thinking about cutting school or dropping out. Strachan said the website is built, and his team is hoping to go live before the start of the next school year.
During their recent junior school tour, Strachan's team encouraged students to take advantage of opportunities in the school system, like the hospitality class at Anatol Rodgers, where he said students don't just learn to cook, but are taught everything they need to know that enables them to leave high school and go directly into the hotel industry. He also highlighted the maritime course, which has proved effective at C.V. Bethel.
He said they have taken their message to junior school students, because they feel that is the age that needs to be addressed to try to change the trend of absenteeism and truancy at the high school level.
"It's during junior school that children usually go through changes -- they're out of primary school with older students and parents tend to treat them differently, so that's the age we need to catch to stay in school and discourage unexplained absenteeism," the chief school attendance officer said.
And while he does not have statistics to prove his theory, Strachan said he believes there is a relationship between students dropping out school or not coming to school and the crime in the country.
NASSAU, Bahamas -- The prospect of receiving an award for being academically exceptional was never at the forefront of Ricara Skippings' mind as she matriculated through her Bachelor of Business Administration (Accounting) programme at The College of The Bahamas. She says she was simply following the sage advice of her mother.
On Wednesday, May 28th, when scores of high achievers of The College's 2014 Commencement Class were honoured during a special awards ceremony, Ricara was leading the pack. She completed her programme with distinction, earning the School of Business' top awards as well as The College's two primary honours.
"I really did not expect this because I actually was working to make my term grades and get a sense of self accomplishment and do my best in every course. I never thought about awards. That was never at the forefront of my mind," she said.
"My mum would always say, you are not competing with the person sitting next to you in the classroom, you are competing against the person sitting in China, Germany, Africa, New Zealand. This is a global environment and if all you think you have to focus on is the person sitting in front of you, then you have big problems."
Ricara humbly accepted the School of Business Award, donated by Fidelity Bank and Trust, and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce Award for Academic Excellence. Many other graduands were honoured in various schools - from Mathematics, Physics and Technology to English, Education and Communication and Creative Arts - for being high achievers.
The prospect of receiving an award for being academically exceptional was never at the forefront of Ricara Skippings' mind as she matriculated through her bachelor of business administration (accounting) program at The College of The Bahamas (COB). She said she was simply following the sage advice of her mother.
On Wednesday, May 28, when scores of high achievers of the college's 2014 commencement class were honored during a special awards ceremony, Ricara was leading the pack. She completed her program with distinction, earning the School of Business' top awards as well as the college's two primary honors.
"I really did not expect this because I actually was working to make my term grades and get a sense of self accomplishment and do my best in every course. I never thought about awards. That was never at the forefront of my mind," she said.
"My mum would always say, you are not competing with the person sitting next to you in the classroom, you are competing against the person sitting in China, Germany, Africa, New Zealand. This is a global environment and if all you think you have to focus on is the person sitting in front of you, then you have big problems."
Ricara humbly accepted the School of Business award, donated by Fidelity Bank and Trust, and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce Award for Academic Excellence. Many other graduands were honored in various schools - from mathematics, physics and technology to English, education and communication and creative arts - for being high achievers.
Acting President of COB Dr. Earla Carey-Baines commended them for their perseverance.
"In the academic arena, they had set themselves apart as scholars and leaders worthy of accolades and emulation. We salute all of our award recipients, as these past years have not been easy ones. The achievement of a college degree is fraught with many tests and challenges. To succeed in college requires commitment, perseverance and sacrifice. You sit before us, not only because you have succeeded, but because you have excelled."
Randol Dorsett is a partner at law firm Graham Thompson and chairman of the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority. In 2001 when he graduated from COB he was recognized for his scholastic aptitude. He returned to his alma mater to deliver the keynote address to the honorees, urging the males among them to be leaders in every facet of society.
"We need more men of excellence now more than ever. We need role models for our sons. Our young Bahamian sons must look up to you for guidance. They must emulate your quest for excellence and model themselves accordingly," he said. "When they are faced with the decision to follow the man who leads the gang on the corner and the student who attends COB, they must come to the realization that to be a man is to know responsibility, to take care of one's self and to take care of one's home. To be a man is to be faithful to one's family, to be a man is to be a leader with a burning desire always to better one's self."
He also challenged the college to be the leading voice in The Bahamas and to help solve the issues this country faces.
"The college and its academics must be the voice of reason in the midst of all the idle talk. When we consider national development plans, issues of taxation, the rights of citizens, issues relating to the environment, these are all issues [in which] the college must have a leading voice. The college must undertake and produce the research which must underpin the public debate," he added.
In all, almost 70 graduating students were honored for their academic excellence and leadership. Among them was Ashley Knowles, who earned an associate of arts degree in music and is a member of The College of The Bahamas Concert Choir. He has travelled the world performing under the leadership of his mentor and choir director Audrey Dean-Wright. Most recently, the college's choir performed at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. He enthusiastically expressed his appreciation for her musical guidance.
"I have been prepared so well, it is like you are almost indebted because you cannot repay [Mrs. Dean-Wright], or the music department, or the college for all I have learned in such a short time. When I travel internationally, people are surprised that I am only a second-year student completing an associate degree. They are so pleased to see that this type of training is happening here in The Bahamas," he said.
At the awards ceremony, Dr. Eslyn Jones, vice -president of student affairs, presented a special award to Dean-Wright, an associate professor at the college, for her longstanding commitment to music and education at the institution.
"For over 18 years, this young lady has been training our students and giving us beautiful music at all our ceremonies and services. We thought it fitting to honor her today. This plaque is a small token of our appreciation for the hard work that she has done over the years," she said.
The college's 2014 commencement activities happened under the theme: "A legacy of leadership: Forty years of educating the nation".
It was just a few short years ago that 19-year-old Tatianeia Rolle would have hauled off and punched you in the face or literally beat you down, simply because you made the mistake of looking at her in what she perceived to be the wrong way. And she got into fights often. Today she admits that she has an anger problem that she says she has learnt to control to the point where if she does get angry about a look or something someone says to her, she doesn't say anything at all. And she says it's all because of what she has learned at the Butterfly Club.
The Butterfly Club is a club for girls between the age of 10 and 18 (they have had younger participants) with a vision for girls and young women to reach their full potential through the process of change, in an effort to impact their families, communities, country and the world.
The club's mission is to mentor girls and young women through empowerment and transformation, recognizing that each individual has hidden treasures (gifts and talents) waiting to be discovered.
Through mentorship the girls are encouraged to develop their true beauty and self-esteem. They speak to them about sexual purity and abstinence, hygiene, etiquette and wellness. The girls are also talked to about their future and topics that include college, career, entrepreneurship and money management. They are also spoken to about the wisdom to learn from the experience of others. The girls also learn what it means to be a leader.
Rolle was 16 when she was invited to her first Butterfly Club meeting from one of its founders, Patrice Paul, who attends her church. Rolle said topics that were addressed -- the mother/daughter relationship, and how young ladies should present themselves -- during her first meeting spoke to her. She's been attending meetings ever since. Now she helps out in the role of an aid, helping to start up discussions and ensuring that girls show up for meetings.
"I wanted to get some knowledge," said Rolle of why she attended that initial meeting. "It was interesting at first, but when they started to speak and get into it, they really related to me because I had no one to teach me. [And] the other discussions talking about mental and emotional states really got to me. I had an anger issue and the Butterfly Club has really helped me with that. They showed me that anger is not the only emotion you can have. The mentors at Butterfly Club were like mothers," she said.
"The main objective of the Butterfly Club is to deal with the transformation of the mind, to get girls to change their mind and view as to what true beauty is," said Patrice Paul, a founding member of the club. "We teach inner beauty and outer beauty, but the beauty we really focus on mainly is emerging beauty which we call potential. We try to get the girls to see that they are beautiful inside and out."
The club started out in October 2004 as a seminar during which they promoted entrepreneurial, career and schooling, with a seminar in Quakoo Street Urban Renewal Center. Paul said the parents said more than just a seminar was needed to reach the girls and monthly meetings held on the last Saturday in each month was the result with the formation of the Butterfly Club. The core group that founded the organization comprised Paul, Antonise Collie, Alma Knowles, Dr. Kenice Paul and Otalia Pinder-Whylly -- singers in a group called Inner Harmony.
Since those early days, there are now four operational Butterfly Clubs --one at Centreville Primary for 45 sixth grade students (A coach goes in to conduct the club meeting every Monday between 12 noon and 1 p.m.). There is a club at the Community Center at Coke Methodist Church that meets the last Saturday in every month. There is one at Bethany Assembly and one at the Urban Renewal Center on Deveaux Street.
At the last Deveaux Street club meeting, 22 girls were in attendance. There were 18 at the Soldier Road club and at Coke Methodist, 12 girls were in attendance.
"A club like this is important because when I was younger, I didn't think there was enough women that mentored girls to say you can do this and be the best you can be. And whatever gifts and talents you have, you can use those gifts and talents to make yourself a better person, to make your community better, to make your world better, so I was very shy," said Paul. "I want girls to know that even though they may be shy, there are things in them that are untapped that they need to tap into.
Paul also said it is important for girls to know for themselves that they are sexy and do not need a boy to tell them that they are sexy.
The girls promise to love, honor and respect themselves and others. And to believe that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and are being transformed to discover their hidden gifts and talents. During club meetings they promise that with God's help, others and their own commitment that they will reach their full potential.
According to Tatianeia, for her, The Butterfly Club means change and the opportunity for girls to develop into something better than they already are, in the direction God wants them to go.
"I would recommend it (Butterfly Club) to girls because I think all females can benefit from the Butterfly Club," she said.
Students at Stephen Dillet Primary School certainly have a story of their own to tell when they become parents.
Many of them can speak to the fact that they were read to by the likes of Dame Marguerite Pindling, wife of the country's first prime minister, Sir Lynden Pindling; Jerome Fitzgerald, minister of education, science and technology; Cynthia "Mother" Pratt, the country's first female deputy prime minister and co-chairman of Urban Renewal and Janet Bostwick, the first woman elected to Parliament.
They were just a few of the more than 30 influential and professional Bahamians from all walks of life to participate in a read-a-thon at the school on Friday, March 7. Former senator and politician J. Henry Bostwick; Canon Basil Tynes, rector of St. Barnabas Anglican Church and Tanya McCartney, managing director at RBC FINCO were also among the many people that donated their time to read to the youngsters.
According to Stephen Dillet School principal, Sheila Scavella, the celebrity read-a-thon was initiated in an effort to motivate students to read more and to improve their reading levels. The school celebrated the month under the theme, "Reading Fuels the Mind".
During her reading session to a first grade class, Dame Marguerite also spoke to the students about her experiences growing up in South Andros -- that people did not have to worry about crime and poverty did not prevent her generation from having manners.
She told them, "Life is like a grindstone, it can polish you up or grind you to dust."
Janet Bostwick shared with students that she is a product of the very same school they attend, and about her growing up on Hogg Island before it was known as Paradise Island.
The book she read to the students was a story about "B Booki and B Rabbi" and a Junkanoo parade at Stephen Dillet Primary School.
Pratt described it as a pleasure to read to the students, particularly since the students were able to meet people who also came up from humble beginnings in the Bain and Grants Town Community.
She said it is programs like the Read-a-Thon that had Bahamian celebrities reading to children that are important because many young students including those at the College of The Bahamas, she said do not know the important leaders of The Bahamas.
Pratt said she would return to the school to assist, especially with the boys, to ensure that they stay on the right path. Pratt read the book "Nelson and Allie" that highlighted the friendship between a boy name Nelson who was HIV-positive and his friend Allie, a girl, and of the many people who tried to break-up the friendship because they did not think Allie should be a friend to someone who had the disease.
The Eleuthera Softball Association (ESA) held a general meeting this past Thursday at Andy Deal's Pavilion in Palmetto Point, Eleuthera, and it appears that the popular sport is finally making a return to what is regarded as 'The Softball Capital of The Bahamas'.
The primary purpose of the meeting was to elect an executive team to run the association for 2014 and 2015. Former softball player and current Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) executive member Romell 'Fish' Knowles was elected for a third non-consecutive term to lead the once prestigious softball association.
Other executives elected are vice presidents Joe Sands, Sammy Sands and Tony Crean, who is responsible for primary, middle and senior school play, secretary general and veteran administrator Paula Johnson, assistant secretary general Noel Small, treasurer Andre Gardiner, and assistant treasurer Andre Butler. The technical officials are commissioner Johnny 'Versatile' Butler and umpire-in-chief Gerard Coakley.
The directors for the league are Andy Deal, Clifford Sands, Angelo Bethel, Ken Mackey, Addison Cooper, Sherwin Major and Steve Maynard. The honorary members are International Softball Federation (ISF) Hall of Famers Austin 'King Snake' Knowles Sr., Richard 'The Lion Heart' Johnson and Douglas 'Dougie' Smith.
New president Knowles said he expects the league to start with about six men teams, and a strong possibility of adding four ladies teams. He stated that a lot of the younger softball players who now play slow pitch softball are enthusiastic about competing in the fast pitch league.
"Unlike past years, the hallmark of our association will be the introduction of a primary school division that will compliment the middle school and high school divisions," said Knowles. "I'm grateful already to Senator Greg Burrows who traveled to Eleuthera to inspect the playing facilities with a view of enhancing and improving the facilities to world-class certified levels."
Knowles indicated that the area member of parliament (MP), Minister of State in the Ministry of Legal Affairs Damien Gomez, donated funds to the Eleuthera Softball Association and promised a second set of funding to ensure the league is sustained financially. President Knowles said that he is grateful for the support and enthusiasm expressed by the government through Senator Burrows and Minister Gomez.
Also, to be fair, Knowles said that he has not asked the other member of parliament for Eleuthera to assist with funding, but feels fairly comfortable that MP Theo Neilly will step up to the plate, as he too is anxious to see the return of softball on the island of Eleuthera. Additionally, Knowles said that he's sure that there are a good number of Eleutherans who will give gladly to assist with sustaining the league financially.
Knowles is already at work with plans to hold coaches, umpires and administrative development courses within the next few weeks.
In addition, league play will be scored electronically, and recruitment and training exercises will be done by Stephen 'Bishop' Beneby and Sherry Beneby.
The league will open with a jamboree with teams being invited from around the country. "We will showcase our school division along with senior play," said Knowles.
Knowles said he was reliably informed that the Bahamas Softball Federation (BSF) intends to honor Billy Micklewhyte at its round-robin tournament that has been promised to the island of Eleuthera. He said that he looks forward to a very busy, but productive, year for the sport of softball, especially on Eleuthera.
A FIFTH grade class at Woodcock Primary School were invited to participate in a tour onboard the visiting US Coast Guard Guard Cutter Gannet while docked at the Prince George Wharf.
Two years after receiving the rights to host the inaugural International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relay Championships, The Bahamas is in the final stage of a long and often bumpy process to stage the biggest sporting event in the country's history.
With less than a month to go before the opening ceremony, venue repairs are on schedule to be completed on time, tickets are selling out quickly, and volunteer recruitment went well.
"It's a big day for us," IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2014 Local Organizing Committee (LOC) Managing Director Lionel Haven said. "This is the moment when we really do start getting ready for celebrating and welcoming the world."
On May 24 and 25, over 800 of the world's best athletes are expected to contest the 10 relay events which will be staged in the 15,000-seat Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, with both men and women competing in the 4x100 meters (m), 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m and 4x1,500m.
Last year in December, the National Sports Authority (NSA) engaged the services of Mondo out of Italy to reconstruct the track at the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The original track was a Class 2 track and to host the world relays, the track had to meet a Class 1 level.
NSA General Manager and LOC Senior Director of Venues Jeffery Beckles said: "We anticipate all repairs being completed in time for the Bahamas High School Relays 2014, which will be a test event for the world relays. The Bahamas High School Relays is also expected to act as a qualifier for a junior event happening on both days of the IAAF World Relays."
The Bahamas High School Relays is set for May 9 and 10 at the stadium, and will start an hour before the actual IAAF World Relays. In addition to the preparation of the track, Beckles said workers are also ensuring that all of the other amenities and auxiliary facilities being refurbished are completed and ready as well.
"We want to advise the general public that we will be closing several of our venues, so that contractors can complete their work on time and so that the facilities can be at the level that we promise for this event," said Beckles. "We want the people of The Bahamas to know that we are making every effort to ensure we have the best possible look and feel when the world comes here."
The primary venues that will be closed in the coming weeks for finishing touches are the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, the old Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium and the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Swim Complex. Since the launch of ticket sales, Haven said patrons have been taking full advantage of the online and box office purchases.
"Up to today, we are at about 8,812 tickets that have been sold so far," he said. "General admission tickets, which are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under and bronze tickets, which are $20, are the only two options left for those wishing to attend."
Tickets for both days are available for purchase online at bahamasworldrelays.org and also the box office at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Haven said that the window for applications to be a volunteer at the event has closed, with a huge number of persons putting themselves forward for the opportunity.
A total of 1,200 applied, with the vast majority of applicants being Bahamian.
"The community's pride that the IAAF World Relays is being held in Nassau is profound, and there has been a great willingness to get involved to ensure the success of the event. There's no doubt, The Bahamas will be ready to welcome the many participants and visitors in the next 30 days," Haven said.
The event will have extensive television coverage and will be seen by millions of viewers around the world in more than 100 countries. Over 100 journalists and up to 30,000 spectators are anticipated to attend the event.
Passion, persistence, perspiration and patience in pursuit of excellence propelled Bahamas Star Gymnastics' (BSG) competitive squad to the top of the medal podium in a recent competition.
In their second appearance at the Tim Rand American Twisters Gymnastics Invitational, hosted in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, these "starlets" nailed a first place in the team division for Level 2, a fourth place in the Level 3 team division, and churned out brilliant individual results including several first place finishes among 12-13 other age division competitors, and inked personal best and season best results in the scorebooks for their club and country. All of the gymnasts scored above a 36 (of 40) which is unprecedented in the country's history of the sport in a single meet.
The "crowning" moment came when BSG's Level 2 team was announced as Team Division winners in the All-Around category. The supporting cast of Bahamians had already peaked emotionally when Soraya Halkitis, Kym-Benay Greene and Lauryn Stubbs swept the top three positions in the Uneven Bars segment.
"Of all of the events, Uneven Bars challenged our team most throughout this season and we basked in the moment of the three straight victories as affirmation of the hard work hammered out in the gym," beamed coach and co-chaperone Tenille Thompson. At the Magical Classic, BSG's Uneven Bars scores were uncharacteristically lower than expected (low 8.0 out of 10) and the coaches headed back to the drawing board with the 'Code of Points', dissected the routines and made adjustments. It just so happened that the same Uneven Bars judge at the Magical Classic also judged the gymnasts at Tim Rand, and the results, all 9.0 or higher, brought relief and celebration to the coaches and gymnasts.
Lauryn Stubbs has been dubbed "the comeback kid" of the season. She had taken a four-year absence from the sport and returned last summer as a new enrollee of BSG. Her journey faced some setbacks when she did not win a medal at the Atlantis Crown Gymnastics Invitational in December, her first competitive meet of the season. At her second meet, Tim Rand, Stubbs dug deep and finished second in All-Around (36.875 of 40). She was also second on Vault and third on Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise.
Soraya Halkitis and Kym-Benay Greene, who had both earned second place All-Around titles at the Magical Classic in Orlando last month, rounded out the awards with a fourth and fifth place respectively. Stubbs' appearance at this meet allowed the gymnasts to qualify for the team division in which the top three scores counted. Together, their first place team award ignited the cheering squad with chants of "242" and "we are proud of you". Halkitis snagged a second place finish on Floor Exercise (9.3 of 10) and Balance Beam (9.375 of 10) to contribute an All-Around score of 36.675 to the winning team score. Greene dismounted the Uneven Bars to conclude a first place routine with a season and personal best of 9.40, and followed that with a third place finish on Floor Exercise (9.225 of 10). Graceful Greene's 36.40 (out of 40) All-Around score was the deal closer to claim the first place Team All-Around title. The Level 2 team also swept first place in the All-Around Team division on Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise.
The Level 3 teammates of Aniyah Pratt and Summer Sturrup captured first place in their respective age divisions. Pratt, who won first place in Level 2 last season, eked out a season's best of 37.250 (out of 40) to double her victory in claiming back-to-back first place titles at this meet, a first time feat for any Bahamian gymnast. Chalking up first place finishes on Vault (9.55 of 10) and Floor Exercise (9.425 of 10) and second place on Balance Beam (9.225 of 10), Pratt placed her Level 3 team in medal contention. Sturrup won second place last year in Level 2 and improved to first place in her Level 3 age division this time. Bespectacled Sturrup vaulted again to a 9.60 highest season and country score, as at Magical Classic last month to solidify her place in the sport. With an All-Around score of 36.875 (out of 40), Sturrup's first place contributed handsomely to the team division's qualification.
Candace Murphy, Madisson Deveaux and Sanaa Saunders boosted the team's winning chances in the team division with second place on Vault and third place on Floor Exercise to seal the fourth place title for Level 3 in the All-Around Team standings. Murphy charted an opportunity in the team standings for her club with a 37.075 All-Around score, the highest for Level 3 for the country. Mesmerizing Murphy raised her team's chances for medal contention with a second place on Floor Exercise (9.350) and third place on Uneven Bars (9.225). Deveaux and Saunders ranked ninth and 10th respectively in their age divisions with All-Around scores of 36.175 and 36.025, thereby smashing all doubt that this team is the country's strongest compulsory level team. Both Deveaux and Saunders recorded their season's best and personal best in the All-Around division.
"This team of gymnasts attracted attention at every meet we attended and for the key reason that they displayed a high level of sportsmanship and competed with a great sense of national pride. They exceeded expectations and for their third meet abroad this season, made all of the corrections and adjustments to produce personal best and season best scores which is a victory itself. All of the medals and trophies are just icing on the cake of hard work," said Co-Head Coach Kachara Marshall. Marshall, who is an english language teacher at D.W. Davis, and has built a solid reputation for some of the best results on the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) exam with mixed ability students, applies the same concepts which have secured successes for her in academics to sports.
"I don't get to hand-pick the students I teach or screen them as in the private schools so I have determined to pull the best out of every young person who is entrusted to my supervision. I started training and coaching gymnastics in 2010 when Bahamas Star Gymnastics opened its doors and apply principles of discipline and hard work to draw the best results from our squad of athletes, talented or not. I would never have dreamed back in 2010 that today the results would be so amazing and that our track record is one of constant improvement. The results from this season and especially this meet have motivated us to take the squad of athletes under our direction to new levels. Same core values repeating themselves as time honored principles."
Marshall teams up with Coach Idania Garcia-Stroud whose primary focus is on the development of the dance and artistic aspect of the sport. Adding to the equation in delivery of instruction is Coach Tenille Thompson, a former gymnast, whose contribution includes strengthening fundamentals and intensifying the conditioning levels in preparation for higher level skills. When asked whether the BSG gymnasts will likely qualify for the Olympics in future years, the coaching staff all respond, "God's will and time will tell."
Bahamas Star Gymnastics opened its doors on Bacardi Road in 2010 with its Starmania Summer Camp and has contributed to the hosting of the Atlantis Crown Gymnastics Invitational and other events such as coaches clinics which continue to improve the sports of gymnastics in the country. BSG will host its own meet, BGPBC-Bahamas Star Gymnastics Invitational, for the third consecutive year in late April.
Students from Freeport Gospel Chapel School, Bartlett Hill Primary School and Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School recently benefited from a firsthand experience in nature.
The Grand Bahama Discovery Club, part of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) education program, treated students to an exciting and informative camping trip at the Rand Nature Center in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
"Through camping experiences like this, we are able to creatively introduce our Discovery Club members to the environment and teach them life skills that will benefit them in their future," said Portia Sweeting, BNT director of education.
"The camping experience allows students to get closer to nature while meeting students from different clubs."
Sixty students participated in the camping experience,which allowed them to learn more about the native plants and animals found at the Rand Nature Center. Additionally, they learned responsibility and the importance of teamwork, as the students aged 11 and 12 were responsible for preparing all of the meals, while the students, aged eight to 10 helped with the cleanup and dishwashing.
The Discovery Club is the youth arm of the BNT, with clubs established in four schools on Grand Bahama. Schools interested in establishing a club can contact the BNT at 352-5438 in Grand Bahama, or 393-1317 in New Providence. Parents and teachers can learn more on the BNT website at bnt.bs.
The winners of the Centreville Constituency Urban Renewal poetry competition walked away with more than just their certificates, marking their accomplishment yesterday.
They also got a rare opportunity to read their work before Prime Minister Perry Christie.
Ten finalists, including the four trophy winners, met Christie at his Cable Beach office.
The primary school students penned poems on, "What I love about The Bahamas".
Aashlee Cartwright, 11, of Palmdale Primary, came in third.
Romero Moxey and Aaliyah Taylor, both 11, of Centreville Primary School, tied for the second spot.
Keshawn Williams, 11, of Columbus Primary School, won the top prize.
The first and second place finishers received Android tablets along with their certificates. Cartwright won a $75 gift certificate for any store in the Mall-at-Marathon.
Christie congratulated the winners and encouraged all of the students to continue to excel.
Christie told the students that he made mistakes in his life, but learned from them and continued to push himself until he became the leader of the nation.
"I went to school with plenty people who were smarter than me," he said. "But you see they all work for me now.
"Keep on believing in yourself and things may happen for you. It may take you long...but keep on believing.
"Always think about what you want to be in life and know that to be that, you have to work hard and you have to do all the right things," he said.
Christie also encouraged the parents and teachers of the students to continue to push them and help them to hone their talents.
"Teach them the difference between right and wrong. Most of my generation had the benefit of knowing what is right and wrong. That is so important today," he said.
"...What you do with these kids now will help to determine what they will do in this country."
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas - As the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival begins its first of two weeks in Grand Bahama, parents of participating preschoolers sang praises for the cultural institution that has been in existence for more than 50 years.
Lisa Turnquest, mother of Sunland Baptist Academy pre-schooler Lia Turnquest, said her daughter worked very hard on her performance and applauded the festival for giving her the opportunity to show what she is capable of doing.
"She has been practicing for a number of weeks and just to see her perform on stage with no nervousness - and so calm and poised - I am so very proud of her," she said. Her husband, Lionel, agreed and said that it was a "bit overwhelming". "Seeing our daughter perform for her very first time on the stage, I feel very proud to see her grow to this stage already at a very early part of her life," Mr. Turnquest said. "There is nothing more I can say about that," he added while looking down lovingly at his smiling daughter.
Lawanda Turner, mother of Sunland Baptist Academy pre-schooler Antwanique Turner, said that her daughter performed her two recitations "very well" and she was proud of the way she spoke so clearly and confidently on stage.
"This is my first time being to the festival," she said. "I have never been to one before. I feel that all the children did well, being that they are youngsters and remembered such a large part like they did."
"It was a good experience," Cordelia Armbrister said about her son and Bahamas Total Education Centre pre-schooler Kayden Ferguson's performance. "I felt proud because it was the first time. I helped him with his practice and he did so well. He enjoyed himself."
Kindercare Learning Centre pre-schooler Madison Davis also had both of her parents watched her recitations. They voiced their pride in her performances on the stage that day. Shanese Davis said Madison has this opportunity and even if she does not win nationally she is so creative and expressive that it is wonderful just to see her.
"We are very excited," her husband, Keno, added. "This is a good way to express themselves and we should never stunt their creativity."
Mrs. Turner commended the festival for having adjudicators like Val Maura judging the participants' performances.
"It's good that they know so much about their work," she said. "It's better that the children learn from someone who has the experience and know how to perform."
Mrs. Turnquest added that she feels "fabulous" about the National Arts Festival making it possible for her daughter the showcase her talent because she remembers being in the festival when she was a girl.
"To see that it is still going on, I am really, really excited," she said. "It is a wonderful thing for the children. It teaches them confidence and poise and, outside of the academics, the arts is a good instrument in the development of children."
"It is actually an exciting event," Mr. Turnquest added. "My nieces have been going for years and they have all been performing and to see my daughter now coming through makes my heart swell. I am glad to see that she has taken interest in it and she has done very well."
"Actually, I was a part of the Festival, too, in the dramatized reading portion when I was at school (C. W. Sawyer Primary)," Mrs. Davis noted. "I am just happy that it is still around. Kids need stuff like this to showcase their creative talents."
Mrs. Turner added a sentiment that was a "given" for most of the parents that day. "I want her to know that I am so proud of her and she will get the treat that I promised her," she said with a smile.
This is the second part of my response to a recent column by Philip Galanis in which he describes the PLP as "The Bahamas' first and some would argue only nationalist party", and proceeds to list some "accomplishments" of the PLP.
Efforts at making propaganda fact Galanis lifts a list of accomplishments from some PLP election propaganda sheet which even the PLP leadership must not believe and he attributes them to the Perry Christie government between 2002 and 2007. Only a blind sycophant could give any credence to the list.
Galanis' rose-tinted glasses do not admit failure by his political party. He claims that the first Christie government attracted some $17 billion in foreign direct investment, some $2.5 billion of which became tangible or real. Attracting investment that is not real is a most peculiar concept. It is more peculiar, in fact, than Galanis' failure to accept that the five-phased development of Atlantis was approved by the FNM in its first term in office and is an FNM accomplishment.
Galanis claims Baha Mar as a Christie government accomplishment without acknowledging that the agreement signed by Christie's government (with U.S. partners and financiers) faltered and was rendered void, and that a new agreement (with Chinese partners and financiers) had to be negotiated by the FNM government after 2007.
Galanis claims that the Christie government created 22,000 jobs between 2002 and 2007, about half the number created by the previous FNM government. He forgot to say that the jobs created during the PLP's term in office were overwhelmingly created on projects left in train by the FNM - at Atlantis, in Abaco and in Exuma.
Indeed, in Exuma, it was just the ribbon-cutting that was left for the PLP to do at the Four Seasons. When that operation faltered in 2006 it was left to the FNM returning to office in 2007 to find a new hotel owner and operator in Sandals. If Galanis can find an anchor project undertaken in Rum Cay or in Eleuthera during Christie's first term in office he should advise Bahamians where they might find them.
Galanis is silent on Grand Bahama where the FNM attracted Hutchison Whampoa to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the development of the Transshipment Port, in redeveloping the Grand Bahama International Airport, and in the construction of the Our Lucaya Hotel.
Also on the FNM's watch mega ship care and repair was developed in Grand Bahama, the Pelican Bay resort was constructed and new investment and technology was introduced into the island's oil storage and transshipment facilities. Christie's legacy in Grand Bahama continues to be the closure of the Royal Oasis Hotel following the 2005 hurricane, a resort he was proud to open with the police band in tow, weeks after coming to office for the first time in 2002.
As Galanis seeks to give credit for development in The Bahamas he would do better to glance through the pages of the 40th Anniversary of Independence book assembled by Jones Publications. The book records, among other things, the infrastructural developments of the past 40 years of independence. The pictorial representation is incomplete but still if one were to stamp PLP or FNM on the lasting permanent improvements in our infrastructure they would overwhelmingly be stamped FNM.
Nationalists who promote the wellbeing and glory of one's own fundamental values In three non-consecutive terms in office the FNM shaped the infrastructural landscape of our country: the new town centers in South Beach, Carmichael Road and Elizabeth Estates; the new government ministry complexes - education, health, customs headquarters, new courts in New Providence.
Then there are the Judicial Complex, Police Headquarters, and new C. A. Smith government administrative complex in Grand Bahama.
The new taxi call-up system at Prince George Dock and the hair-braiders' pavilion also at the Prince George Wharf, the National Art Gallery and the Junkanoo Expo are all FNM accomplishments as are the extension and or upgrade of electricity, telephone and water services throughout the Family Islands, new community health clinics on eight Family Islands including Grand Bahama, Bimini, Abaco, Spanish Wells, Harbour Island and San Salvador and another in South Beach, New Providence; new schools, primary and secondary, in New Providence and also in Grand Bahama, Abaco, and Long Island, and expansion of other existing schools around the country. A new airport terminal building and runway were constructed at San Salvador and the airport at Rock Sound, Eleuthera was acquired, the runway resurfaced and a new terminal building constructed.
A new international sea port, the new airport terminal building in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, the new government administration complex and the new community hospital nearing completion in central Abaco were all FNM accomplishments. And the FNM dredged and deepened Nassau Harbour (over the objections of the PLP), built the new Nassau straw market, constructed new magistrates courts and acquired and began restoration of a new judicial complex in Nassau; commenced the three-phased redevelopment of LPIA opening the new U.S. Departure terminal and leaving the International Arrival Terminal to be opened weeks following the 2012 general election.
The new library and communications center at COB was realized by the FNM as were the new national stadium, the 20-corridor-plus New Providence roads and utility upgrade project and the new four-lane Airport Gateway Project. The new adolescent and child care facility at Sandilands Hospital, the new emergency and operating theater wing at Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama; the new Critical Care Block now under construction at Princess Margaret Hospital, and new community hospitals under construction in Exuma are all FNM accomplishments. The list is unending.
Social conscience in government
Socially the FNM has been responsible for fulfilling the PLP's unfulfilled promise in virtually every sector of Bahamian life.
Since 1992 the FNM freed the airwaves and licensed private radio broadcasts, made access to cable television possible and introduced live T.V. coverage of meetings of Parliament from gavel to gavel. The FNM introduced elected local government in its second term in office - a promise first made by the PLP in the 1950s while in opposition and reiterated again in 1968 as government but never brought to fruition.
The FNM privatized BTC and liberalized the communications sector.
The FNM also increased old age pensions, established a resident Court of Appeal and appointed Bahamians as justices in that court for the first time. They established the Industrial Tribunal, introduced minimum wage, introduced sick leave and enhanced maternity leave benefits, established minimum standards and conditions of employment, reduced the work week from 48 to 40 hours, increased the school leaving age from 14 to 16, removed discrimination from our inheritance laws and provided in law that all children, regardless of the marital status of their parents, have two parents. And the FNM created the Eugene Dupuch Law School where Galanis' wife is proud to serve as principal.
The FNM also established the UWI Medical School faculty in The Bahamas, introduced unemployment benefits, introduced a prescription drug benefit and enacted a Freedom of Information Act. It is only left for the PLP to sign the appointed day notice to bring the act into force.
The FNM appointed the first Bahamian directors of Legal Affairs and of Public Works since independence, appointed the first women to the Bahamas Cabinet since independence, Doris Johnson having been dismissed prior to 1973. The FNM was also responsible for the appointment of the first female chief justice, the first female president of the Court of Appeal, the first female speaker of the House of Assembly, and since independence, the first female president of the Senate. In its second term in office the FNM caused 50 percent of the Senate to be comprised of women.
Galanis seems to believe that the PLP has a legacy in public housing. In reality the Pindling PLP government struggled to complete housing developments under development by the UBP government in Yellow Elder and Big Pond.
It was not until 1982 and the appointment of a young Hubert Ingraham to Cabinet that the PLP undertook new government housing projects - at Elizabeth Estates, Flamingo Gardens, Nassau Village and Palm Tree Estates in New Providence, and housing estates were undertaken in Freeport and in Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama and in Cooper's Town, Abaco. Ingraham was dismissed from Cabinet two years later and the new government housing initiative stalled. It did not resume until after the FNM's 1992 election victory after which new housing projects were undertaken at Millennium, Jubilee, and Emerald Gardens. The pace was improved under the first Christie-led government but the overall poor standard of construction of that government's housing program dramatically curtailed its benefits.
Unfinished agendas Yes, Galanis, there is an unfinished agenda for development in our country, but it is the FNM that has such an agenda. It is an agenda of the 'good' who, having been too young to be a part of the first revolution and having been forced out of the ruling party, became intent on their watch after 1992 on realizing the new long-awaited second revolution which they sought to achieve through improved social policies, enhanced economic opportunities, broadened Bahamian ownership in the economy and open, transparent and accountable government. The agenda of the PLP and in particular of this Christie led-PLP government is an unfinished agenda of obtaining privileges and benefits for a select few. It is an unfinished agenda that suggests that holding up those heroes of the first revolution imperfect - though they be - is sufficient. That is why Perry Christie could travel to Washington D.C., and talk about social justice on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech but remain silent on the shameful mismanagement of an investigation into alleged abuse in a Bahamas government detention center at home.
Yes, Galanis, the PLP is in dire need of new causes to champion. They can begin by recognizing the right of the opposition to a voice in Parliament. They can begin by championing open, honest accountability and transparent government.
They can begin by committing themselves to fiscal restraint, abandoning wasteful expenditure on useless or unnecessary expensive foreign travel, and on the granting of government contracts to politically-connected but unqualified contractors.
They can begin to act to create real jobs. They can begin by stopping the politicization of crime. They can begin by acting so as to bring honor to our name internationally.
Finally, in the spirit of championing causes and promoting transparency, Galanis might begin by telling the Bahamian people why he was denied his party's nomination to return to the House of Assembly and why, following so promising a career start, he elected to leave the engagement of the renowned accounting firm which had trained and groomed him for leadership.
LAKESHIA Anderson, Grand Bahama Parks Manager for the Bahama National Trust, met last week with residents of McLean's Town at a public meeting, held at McLean's Town Primary School in Grand Bahama.
Teachers at Carlton Francis Primary School staged a sit-in yesterday over issues that included a "severe shortage of teachers" and a lack of adequate furniture for students.
Several teachers, who spoke to The Nassau Guardian on condition of anonymity, said some students are forced to stand or sit on the floor in classrooms because of a lack of chairs.
They also claimed that teachers in grades one and two have to move between classrooms because there are not enough instructors.
As the teachers stood behind the school gates, a group of about 20 parents stood on the other side demanding that the Ministry of Education address the concerns.
Other issues include a poor drainage system, mold in the classrooms, a leaking roof and the lack of a pedestrian crossing, the teachers and parents claimed.
Morgan Brooks, whose child is in the first grade at the school, said the lack of furniture at the start of the school year is inexcusable.
"Tell the minister (of education) to bring his chair from his office for my child to sit in," she said. "Bring his desk from his office for my child to sit at.
"Instead of focusing on cutting my teachers' [salaries], let's cut his salary for our roof because it is leaking... Bring us some furniture. Some of the children don't even have a desk to sit at. We need action and we need it now."
Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald said the ministry recently received cabinet approval for the purchase of about $800,000 worth of furniture.
"From time to time we do have these issues that unfortunately schools have to deal with," he said.
"It's not to the point where we feel like it will impact the level of education...But we should have those matters addressed throughout the country."
As it relates to any other issues the teachers may have, Fitzgerald said he has asked Director of Education Lionel Sands to go to the school and meet with them.
"I want to get a full report before I make any determination," he said.
Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President Sharmaine Adderley said the problems at the school have been simmering for years.
"We've gotten promises year after year," Adderley said. "That's why we haven't said anything.
"This is the first three weeks of school and we find teacher shortages through the roof, teachers having to be taken to hospital for high blood pressure; we have to do something about it.
"Our teachers are standing here because they want to teach. This is not a lazy staff. These are workers. These are good teachers. So we are asking for them to step forward and get these things done. Bring in the people."
One angry father stormed on campus and brought out broken pastic chairs he claimed that second graders are forced to sit in. He placed the chairs in the middle of the road.
Shantell Mackey, who has two children who attend the school, noted the possibility of injuries that those chairs pose to the children.
"You see those prongs sticking out," she said, pointing at the broken chairs. "Can you imagine what type of injury a child can get?
"I really want the ministry to come and deal with issues that are happening with this school."
Shelly Anderson, who has a son in grade two, said it seems as if her child is only being entertained at school.
Anderson said she has yet to see evidence that he is learning anything.
"Every day I pick him up from school and I ask him, 'what did you do in school' or I look in his book and there is nothing. He says 'mommy they take me into the library and we watch movies'."
The school has just over 1,000 students and 46 teachers.
The sit-in follows similar action at Stephen Dillet and Uriah McPhee primary schools this week over conditions at those institutions.
Almost 2,000 College of The Bahamas students who have achieved the academic distinction of earning a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00 for the 2012-2013 academic year were honored for their dedication and perseverance during a Student Success Ceremony held at the college's Oakes Field Campus.
Hailed as role models to their peers, the students were awarded honor pins for earning their respective place on the Dean's List and President's List, a coveted honor.
Dean's List honoree, Ivanna Gaitor, an Art major, beamed as she was recognized for her outstanding achievement.
"I am glad that they have this kind of event celebrating students and their success. I know some people who come here from 8 a.m. and leave at 8 p.m. -- been there, done that. That is a struggle that everyone has to go through at some point being here, so it is good to have this opportunity to celebrate your achievement," she said.
Ivanna and many others were applauded by their fist-pumping and cheering contemporaries.
According to Matthew Walker, a law and criminal justice major, who aspires to be among the 2014 Commencement Class and is a President's List honoree, time management is key.
"[It takes] putting your best effort into the completion of your work, not just giving mediocre work, but making sure what you have presented is the best representation of yourself," he said.
Hoping to encourage and inspire the students, guest speaker Teo Cooper, a faculty member in the School of Education at COB, reflected on his life's journey. He told the students that despite the challenges of poverty and instability that he faced growing up, he still had a "burning desire to excel." He graduated at the top of his class from primary school, graduated with honors from high school and was the first person in his family to graduate from college.
He told the honorees that he lives by the adage, "Life is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent of how you respond to it."
"Students it was not easy, but I have learnt that nothing that is worth having comes easily. So guard your passion. There are times when you have to believe in yourself, even if you have to believe in yourself all by yourself," he said.
He encouraged the students to insist on being qualified in order to take their rightful position in society and to persevere while in college.
"It may take some time and sometimes college may seem like an endless journey, but look at me. I am about to finish my doctorate [degree] next year and I will still be in my 20s. You will come to learn that it is not the destination that is the most important, but the experience, the lessons and the things that happen along the way," he said.
Students, who for the academic year 2012-2013 obtained a GPA of 3.50 with a minimum of 12 credit hours for each semester were awarded honor pins for the President's List; while students who obtained a GPA of 3.00 with a minimum of 12 credit hours for the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters achieved the distinction of being on the Dean's List. In total, there were 110 President's List honorees, and 1,824 combined Dean's List honorees.
The names of many of our public schools pay tribute to master teachers whose contributions to national development were extraordinary and critical.
Students should be reminded of those contributions by educators such as Mabel Walker, L.N. Coakley, N.G.M. Major, Naomi Blatch, T.G. Glover, C.V. Bethel, Carlton E. Francis and others.
Today's teachers should draw inspiration from yesterday's masters. Indeed, there remain many fine teachers and administrators in our public schools. We salute them as well as dedicated professionals in the Ministry of Education.
There should be no illusions about the difficulties teachers face in terms of student indiscipline regarding work ethic and poor behavior. Add to this, a lack of parental support for teachers, and one gets a sense of what teachers face on a daily basis.
Within this context, we have high praise for those parents who are committed to improving public education through involvement in school boards, parent-teacher associations and other areas.
Noteworthy are collaborations between teachers and parents. The community outreach program at Sadie Curtis, geared towards boosting parental involvement in that primary school, is exemplary.
There are clear improvements needed in public education. Some of that work will have to be done by students hungry to learn and grow. But, that work also requires greater efforts and collaboration by parents and educators.
The title of headmaster or headmistress was often synonymous with head teacher. And, for good reason.
The idea was that the leader or principal of a school was not singularly a manager or administrator. One of the head's defining roles was to ensure the quality of teaching and instruction.
It is a role which should be stressed with equal measure to that of effective administration of our public schools. This will require that principals have other administrators and support staff assisting them in school administration.
More principals need to spend more time in classrooms rigorously observing teacher performance. The system for mentoring new teachers as well as teachers needing improvement will have to be reviewed and improved in various public schools.
We also renew our call for more effective teacher evaluation. This includes more vigorous assessment measures which truly gauge subject proficiency, teaching methods and student performance relative to the quality of teaching.