The Rockhouse Foundation has been transforming learning environments in the Negril area for over 15 years. Originally focused on the renovation of public primary schools, the foundation broadened its focus to include the Negril Library, and the past 5 years has been concentrating on early childhood education. This change in emphasis affirms empirical evidence that all children, but especially poor children, need a solid foundation in order to thrive throughout their education and, consequently, ultimately become self-determining members of society.
THE SAVANNA-LA-MAR INCLUSIVE INFANT ACADEMY (Sav Inclusive)
Over the past few years the Rockhouse Foundation established the Savanna-la-Mar Inclusive Infant Academy, Jamaica’s first and only public institution serving children in a full inclusion setting. This school was built from the ground up by the foundation. Sav Inclusive for the 2019/2020 school year has a full enrollment of 115 children with planning for an expansion into the primary and secondary years fully underway.
In addition to the highest quality curriculum and instruction, Sav Inclusive offers developmental, physical and speech language therapy for its special needs students typically unable to access critical treatment by health and education systems that are unable to offer facilities, adequately trained professional care, affordability or simple proximity.
Bunch of Stars Pre-K (BOS)
The Foundation’s first exclusively Early Childhood Project centered on Bunch of Stars Pre-K in Old Hope, Westmoreland, located approximately 15 miles east of Negril. For 20 years BOS has been a community fixture, initially located on the veranda of its founder, and then for 13 years in a small, two room rudimentary structure absent of even the most basic early childhood supplies and amenities. Bunch of Stars now welcomes an expanded student population everyday onto a brand new compound abundant with supplies, new furniture, a vegetable garden for sustainable school nutrition, and a rejuvenated spirit..
Moreland Hill Primary School
After decades of neglect, the Moreland Hill Primary School had an enrollment of just 32 students and was slated for closure by Jamaica’s Ministry of education. Over the summer of 2013, the Foundation completed a total transformation of the Moreland Hill Primary School, alongside a dynamic new principal, welcomed 120 pre-K – 6th grade students who had previously traveled long distances in search of a better education that all children deserve.
Little Bay All Age and Infant School
Little Bay often feels like a forgotten community. It remains largely unchanged from the time more than 30 years ago when Bob Marley used to journey to the small fishing village for peace and quiet and a little roast fish on the beach. The Little Bay All Age School, like the community, was full of promise but had seen better days, so its foundation to rooftop renovation and expansion in 2010 ushered in a sense of pride and possibilities that are embedded in the school community today. Technology and teachers feed the minds, an organic garden feeds the bodies, and a revitalized facility feeds the community spirit.
Sir Clifford Campbell School
Located on the same campus as Sav Inclusive the Sir Clifford Campbell (SCC)l has had some specific challenges. Teaching in tents following the condemning of one of its buildings, the Foundation partnered with the Ministry of Education in building a new 4 classroom building and completely gutting and renovating another existing 4 classroom building.
Negril Public Library
For decades, Negril students’ and wider community’s only option was a 500 square foot library with minimal resources and no technology. In 2009, after extensive consultation and with the Jamaica Library Service and the “Friends of the Library” committee, the Rockhouse Foundation modernized and expanded the landmark structure, creating Negril’s first new civic building in more than 40 years. Its award winning design by Kingston architects, Chris Stone and David Douglas, seamlessly blends classic Caribbean feel and colors with contemporary function and beauty. It houses Negril’s only free access to computers and the Internet, as well as thousands more book titles than the original structure could accommodate. Everyday, young and old alike cross its threshold in search of information, knowledge, homework help or just a good read.
Tech-based Literacy Program
The Jay Hatfield Family Foundation has provided Rockhouse Foundation with the largest grant in its history to implement a computer-based literacy and numeracy program called SuccessMaker. On the ground SuccessMaker’s implementation, and overall technical expertise, has been driven and supervised by Foundation board member, Ian Coville. Since 2016 all students in 1st – 6th grades at the Moreland Hill and Little Bay Schools devote several hours weekly on this powerful and engaging platform improving their math and reading skills. SuccessMaker is designed to allow each student to work at their own pace, advancing through each achievement level only when they have demonstrated proficiency and clear understanding of the underlying competencies.
Howard University Partnership
For the past year we have been developing a formal relationship with Howard University’s Psychology and Speech Language Therapy Departments, in support of Sav Inclusive’s multi-faceted needs. Current partnership activities include conferences hosted at Sav Inclusive focused on teacher and parent strategies for supporting children with special needs. We are also developing plans for staff training, undergrad volunteer opportunities, graduate practical studies and development of online degree programs.
NEGRIL ALL AGE SCHOOL & NEGRIL BASIC PRE-K SCHOOL
Negril’s only public elementary school was originally constructed for 100 students, many of them children of fishermen and farmers whose simple lifestyle had defined the community for generations. As Negril turned the page on a new millennium its school held nearly 500 children in over-crowded, outdated buildings with leaky roofs that suffered from years of deferred maintenance. Negril All Age School was in desperate need of assistance.
Negril Basic School is the primary feeder pre-K for the Negril All Age School and is located on the same compound. It suffered from decades of neglect and minimal funding and, not surprisingly, many of its graduates were not adequately prepared to enter their primary years confidently. Rockhouse Foundation followed the transformation of Negril All Age with a similar makeover for its companion pre-K .. Splashed with the same bright colors and filled with new early childhood furniture and educational supplies, games and toys, Negril Basic took on the same rejuvenated spirit as the “big school”. These original two Negril projects were strictly focussed on capital injection and physical transformation of the spaces after which there was not an ongoing commitment.