We came to Jamaica as a semi-retired couple wishing to combine visits with our grandchild and her parents who live in Jamaica with a volunteer experience. The Jamaica Volunteers program provided us with both great accommodations during the week and an incredible experience teaching at Constant Spring Primary and Junior High School.
We were treated like family at Smokey Manor by Maureen Wright-Evans, her family and staff. The meals were true Jamaican cuisine`and plentiful. Situated in the hills overlooking Kingston, the air was sweet and the views lovely.
On our first day at the Constant Spring School, we were warmly welcomed by the Principal and Vice Principal and immediately brought to a 5th and 4th grade class respectively. Within minutes of arriving in the classroom we were given the opportunity to teach a class! While quite energetic, the students were respectful, eager to learn and very affectionate. During our 2 weeks, we taught and experienced classes in grades 2,3,4,5, and 6. Despite large class size (32-40), cramped conditions, and constant noise (many classrooms were rail car style with no door and only a low thin wall) the classrooms themselves were quite rich with many pictures and much information on walls and hung on strings that stretched across the class room. The curriculum was very rich covering not only the typical 3 R academic subjects, but also included religions of the world, social studies and even Spanish! The teachers were mostly excellent, with an amazing ability to maintain classroom order, while keeping the students engaged and interested under very difficult conditions. A highlight of the week for us was introducing all 3 4th grade classes to Judaism, which included the blessings at the beginning of Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath. The kids were most interested and it was a great experience for all!