Written by: Garfield L. Angus
For 100 years, the Spanish Town Infant School in St. Catherine has remained committed to its mission of fostering the holistic development of every child that steps through its doors.
Established in 1920 with a student population of 50, the school has grown to become a centre of excellence, catering to the well-being of children within Spanish Town and its environs.
Principal, Maxine Scarlett-Campbell, says Spanish Town Infant, which is the only government-owned infant school in the parish, is driven by its motto ‘Excellence Is Our Goal’.
She said that the school “continues to strive with a spirit of excellence in all that we do to prepare and develop young individuals to take their places in an evolving global community”.
“With adequate numbers of knowledgeable teachers in a safe, challenging and caring educational environment, our children will acquire basic mathematical and reading skills, develop critical thinking skills, gain respect for intercultural differences, and become lifelong learners who will be knowledgeable citizens,” she added.
Addressing the recent launch of the 100th anniversary celebration, held at the St. James Cathedral in the parish, Mrs. Scarlett-Campbell said that Spanish Town Infant school has been blessed over the years to be served by a cadre of dedicated staff, who have contributed to the pride of place the institution holds today.
She noted that the school enjoys strong relationships with stakeholders such as the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), churches and business entities within its environs, who have contributed to its progress.
Turning to development plans, the Principal cited the establishment of a state-of-the-art resource room “where students can navigate technological gadgets meaningfully, and to think critically and develop problem-solving skills”.
Other projects include erecting perimeter fencing, an auditorium with a stage, and a multipurpose court for athletics.
“We give God thanks for this remarkable journey as we celebrate 100 years of excellence as a school. It is our vision to continue the path of excellence by providing equal opportunities for all students entrusted in our care. These opportunities will, no doubt, help to create eclectic learning experiences, which will help to inculcate positive values and attitudes in young minds, thereby helping to develop responsible citizens,” the Principal said.
Chairman of the school, Marcia Parrish, said that Spanish Town Infant has been a source of great pride and joy to the Spanish Town community.
She noted that during its 100 years of existence, the school has had “significant achievements, which has allowed us to stand in the forefront of the early-childhood sector.”
Regional Director at the Ministry of Education and Youth, Sophia Forbes Hall, in hailing the 100-year milestone, said that Spanish Town Infant has a “glorious history” and has produced students who have contributed to nation-building.
For her part, Member of Parliament for St. Catherine Eastern, Denise Daley, said that the institution is fulfilling its role in giving children a good start to their education to ensure that they can reach their full potential.
“I am proud of them. The teachers are highly professional in carrying out their duties and the students are way above average, and it is something that we all should be extremely proud of,” the MP said.
Past student, Racquel Nunes, recalled the “fun times” that she and other students enjoyed at the school, and how they were taken on field trips that assisted their learning.
“Our early-childhood education was well rounded, and Spanish Town Infant School has moulded so many fine citizens of this country,” she noted.
During its existence, Spanish Town Infant has had six principals and seven board chairs, and at one time accommodated more than 1,000 students.
The institution has also won numerous awards for excellence in academics and the arts, including the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) competitions.
A number of activities will be held to mark Spanish Town Infant School’s 100th anniversary, including a ceremony to honour persons who contributed to the institution’s development, a community health fair in July, and a gospel concert in October.