Fri | Oct 18, 2019

Special-needs children benefit from Learn Smart Academy

Published:Saturday | December 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Stewart

WESTERN BUREAU:

Jamaican New York-licensed teacher, communication therapist, and registered nurse Winsome Stewart has opened Jamaica's first Learn Smart Academy in Coral Gardens, Rose Hall.

The school, which was established to satisfy various educational needs, has the capacity to accommodate 30 students. It is being operated as a centre where all children can learn, says Stewart, who has transformed the lives of several of the island's children through tutoring.

"I don't want to warehouse my kids. They must benefit positively from the experience of being at Learn Smart, so that is why I am sticking to the adage that all children can learn," the educator explained to The Gleaner during a recent interview.

The school operates on the grounds of the St Augustine Anglican Church in Montego Bay, St James.

 

TEACHING THROUGH PLAY

 

Adhering to the Jamaican curricula, the focus, Stewart says, is to teach the children, particularly the younger ones, through play.

"One way to achieve our goals is to focus on small class sizes such as six students to one teacher in relation to special-needs students and eight to 10 students to one teacher for regular classes."

Stewart, who returned to Jamaica from the United States in 2006, said that she was moved to act after seeing the vast number of children who were underserved by the education system. She raised concerns about the special-needs population.

"Nobody thought they could learn, so I rolled up my sleeves and started working with many of them and received positive responses from their parents."

She has had parents who have cried when their children who have never spoken say "Mommy" for the first time.

Stewart, who is actively involved in the Rotary International movement, said that she had always wanted to start a school since her return but could not find an adequate location.

When the opportunity presented itself earlier this year, she said that it was almost like God had guided her to make the move.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com