Heavy rains through the night made waking up for some of us an easy task. Today would mark our first visit to St. Ann’s Bay Primary School, and although we had all mentally prepared for it… nothing could have fully braced us for the busy-ness we’d soon be entering. After a short walk down the hill – one that definitely didn’t seem so short on the way back up – we entered the front gates of school.
Hundreds of children running every direction, jumping off concrete staircases and ledges; chasing their friends while stuffing their faces with sugary drinks and starchy foods. Hands reaching through classroom windows, notebooks and pencils being thrown from railings of the upper floors; not an adult in sight and no one responsible for monitoring the children – save for a handful of students with blue “Monitor badges” who were equally as joyous and wild.
So, after a quick tour we got to work splitting up in groups to tackle a quick morning lesson with as many classrooms as we could. Luckily, today was Monday, and the school held an all-student devotional at the changeover between morning and afternoon sessions. Principal Cole and the assistant principal managed to line up and capture the attention of over 1,400 students gathered in the heat of the mid-day sun for 30 minutes of devotion and song. Then again, we divided up into the classrooms in the afternoon to attempt more of the lessons we had each prepared. Regardless of their efficiency, all our time felt valued and left an impact on the children who began to really take a liking to each one of us – especially Hank! Groups of us helped Jamaican students write letters, solve math and creative thinking problems, and other groups simply read stories to classrooms which were often packed with more children than there were seats. The first day at St. Ann’s Bay left us all exhausted. We give enormous praise and thanks to all school teachers in Jamaica! Monday ended with our daily devotional and the boys played with a few of the St. Ann’s children who walked up the hill to play.