Christel House: Providing holistic education for St Catherine students

Interim Education Minister. Karl Samuda (second left) plants a breadfruit tree, during his recent tour of the Christel House Jamaica school, under construction at Twickenham Park, St. Catherine. Observing (from left) are Project Manager, Christel House International, Jeremy Brown; Senior Vice President and Secretary, Christel House International, Cheryl Wendling; and Chairman of the Board, Christel House Jamaica Sally Porteous. (Photo: Rudranath Fraser, JIS)

Christel House Jamaica aims to assist young students in St. Catherine to become well-deserving members of society, though a school being constructed in Twickenham Park.

The local charity organisation, an arm of Christel House International, is to provide tuition-free quality education and ancillary services to students, aged three to 19, living in St. Catherine.

The school, which is now under construction, will be based on the Christel House International model, which is renowned for its robust education, nutrition, healthcare, and character and career development programmes.

Chairman of the Board, Christel House Jamaica, Sally Porteous, said that the tuition-free institution will provide essential resources to cater to the social and emotional needs of its students, which are critical to healthy development.

“There is no charge to the students who will be coming to Christel House Jamaica. We are targeting families and children who have a great difficulty in being able to pay for tuition, books, uniform, food and transportation. That is the group we will be targeting,” she indicated.

The institution will provide breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack, as well as transportation services for children living far distances from the school.

In addition to providing meals, uniforms and textbooks, the school will also provide counselling services for its students to assist children who suffer from psychological and other emotional issues.  

Porteous explained that it’s a critical part of the Christel House structure, which aims to provide a holistic education.

“We are basing everything on the love and care they will get here. We recognise the fact that children that come from certain home environments have difficulty with a lot of things… they are not loved enough by both mother and father, so we are going to give them a lot of love and understanding,” she told JIS News.

 “We have psychologists and social workers on board, so the emotional well-being of the child will be put first, and once the child’s emotional well-being is taken care of, we know there will be no difficulty in them learning,” Porteous added.

Interim Education Minister Karl Samuda (second left), with members of the Christel House International team (from left) Senior Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, Christel House International, Joseph Schneider; Chairman of the Board, Christel House Jamaica and retired Custos of Manchester, Sally Porteous; Project Manager, Christel House International, Jeremy Brown and Senior Vice President and Secretary, Christel House International, Cheryl Wendling. (Photo: Rudranath Fraser, JIS)

The Chairman further noted that the Christel House education model is strategically designed to prepare and increase students’ chances of obtaining a tertiary education.

The school’s full enrolment capacity is 840 from the kindergarten level up to grade 12.               

Porteous said the school, which is being built on 10.4 acres of land, is a valuable addition to the community.

“The Spanish Town area is short of schools. It is an area that was pointed out to us by the Government because it had the right amount of land. We wanted to have at least 10 acres of land. There is to be a nice playfield and space. We had looked all around Kingston and other areas in Clarendon and even Manchester, but we thought this was a great spot,” she asserted.

The Government will provide a long-term lease for the land on which the school will be built. Christel House is constructing facilities on the property at its own expense.

Principal of Christel House Jamaica, Alecia Francis, noted that the school will provide invaluable educational opportunities for children in the area.

“We will provide state-of-the-art education for these children. We cater to the whole child, so we have a nutrition programme and character-based education in restorative discipline. We also provide a safe space for them to blossom and become what they want to be and maximise their potential. The school will serve children in communities across St. Catherine,” she said.

Senior Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, Christel House International, Joseph Schneider, told JIS News that this will be the eighth Christel House school to be established worldwide.

Others are located in the United States, Mexico, South Africa and India.

Schneider declared Christel House Jamaica will use the national curriculum approved by the Ministry of Education.

Students will participate in all national standardised examinations and assessments comprising the National Assessment Programme.

 “In all of our schools, we focus on the local national education requirements and then supplement those requirements with additional focus on those areas outside of the curriculum, including character development, leadership development and a lot in the way of career planning and development, starting from the kindergarten level,” he explained.

⁠— JIS