Living Values Facilitator Shares Bereavement Coping Mechanisms
“The 2012 school term of the Ministry of Education ended on December 13 for Basic, All Age and Secondary schools in Jamaica,” wrote LVE’s Focal Point for Jamaica, Sharon Parris-Chambers. “A memorable highlight of the school year for me was a visit to Rusea High School’s Upper Sixth Form class in Hanover in September.
This would have been the class that beloved cohort, Leshawn Grant, should have been placed in, were it not for an unfortunate and untimely tragic accident. Here is a brief recap of the story from the Positive Tourism News.”
On August 10, 2012, Leshawn Grant, a beautiful and talented nineteen year old young woman and only child of Carol Grant lost her life tragically, the result of a reckless car accident. Leshawn left work at Travellers Beach Resort approximately 5:10 p.m. and as she walked towards downtown Negril she was hit by a speeding car driven by a man coming from a Cambio and heading to Montego Bay, according to eye witnesses. Leshawn worked in the capacity of an Intern Front Desk Receptionist at Travellers Beach Resort for only four days; she was well regarded by all and as a matter of fact, treated as a daughter to Mr. Winston Wellington, Chairman of the Negril International Hospital and Wellness Centre.
“The purpose of my visit was to encourage students to speak about their feelings of bereavement for Leshawn with fellow students, teachers and family, to share cultural aspects of bereavement, and to share with students coping mechanisms related to the bereavement process. I gave a brief overview of bereavement indicating that cultures regard the process differently. Some acquire paid weepers, while others such as Hindu groups rush the spirit of the dead into its next incarnation with a ceremony, followed by burial the next day. In Jamaica, we grieve for nine nights and celebrate at the end, before burial.
I spoke of the stages of bereavement as referenced in Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ 1969 book On Death and Dying. Kübler-Ross' analysis significantly opened up the previously conservative “sweep it under the carpet” approach and revolutionized the understanding of death and dying across the world. Students were encouraged to share their feelings during the exercise, but none accepted the challenge due to the Jamaican cultural mores of grieving privately with family. I then shared two short motivational poems from the my book, “Poetry from the Rose of Sharon: Divine Thoughts and Inspirations for Living Well” and a recorded reflection called the ‘Grassy Field’ and then answered questions.
There was a significant positive response during the Circle of Love exercise which followed. The teacher and class joined hands; the facilitator prayed and asked each one to share their own word sounds, prayer, thoughts, or song. One student shared her pain over the recent loss of her father. The exercise came to an end with a hugging exercise which brought smiles and relief to the faces of all. Sixth form teacher, Ms Odeth Edwards, promised to invite me to return soon.”
50th Jubilee Brings Call to Transform Education Programme
The Jamaica Ministry of Education Region 4, recently held its Back to School Conference themed "Get it Right the First Time" in July, 2012, with the goal of transforming the national education programme. The Director General, Planning Institute of Jamaica, stated "by 2030, we see Jamaica as a country having a vibrant and sustainable economy, society and environment, a high level of human capital development, greater opportunities and access to these opportunities for the population, and a high level of human security." Vision 2030 was conceived with great optimism and a renewed call for partnership across Jamaica.
The Education Minister spoke boldly and assuredly of the way forward: "We have a godly tradition in education to raise up the whole human person, a composite of social adeptness and wholesome relationships. Teach our children about their Creator, Redeemer whose spirit will enliven them and keep them through their lives." He encouraged volunteers to go into the schools to contribute: "You don't have to proselytize for own denomination. You could just read to the children and look around for other ways to help, such as developing a feeding programme."
Sharon Parris-Chambers, National Focal Point for Living Values Education, encouraged the Minister to endorse the visit of Dr. Neil Hawkes, Oxford University and International Values Education Consultant, to return to the island to help the Ministry develop a national values education programme. Within the education ministry, it is not business as usual, rather it is time for concerted change. The future of our nation depends on the value of the education we provide to our youth. The Education Minister's Call to Action is timely and most critical during the year of Jamaica's 50th jubilee.
Jamaica's Minister of Education calls for spiritual-based non-partisan educational reform at a School Regional Conference
Sharon Parris-Chambers, Jamaica's Focal Point for LVE, reported that the Ministry of Education Region 4 recently held its Back to School Conference themed "Get it Right the First Time" on Friday, July 20, 2012, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. Hillary Foster, Regional Director was Chairperson as well as host of the Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites and his team from Kingston. The all-day program opened with devotion at 9:00 a.m. by Rev. Egbert Harvey, Board Chairman, Mt. ZionPrimary School; he asked participants "to join hands for a common mission, combined approach, partnering of business, sponsors, teachers, parents, school boards, and interest groups to facilitate a sector that can transform the lives of our children". With that exhortation and prayer, Rev. Harvey set the tone for a spiritually charged educational event. He further asked the audience to stand, greet and touch five persons saying "Lets us join hands to build this nation and transform it."
Talia Prout, a student at Mt. Alvernia High School followed with a beautiful, melodious, spiritual hymn sung like a professional songstress. Mrs Hillary Foster, provided the welcome and introductions to Mrs Grace McLean, Permanent Secretary; Mr. Charles Brevet represented the Hon. Ewen Corrodus, Custos Rotulorum of St James; Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Member of Parliament, East Central St. James; Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce; Mr. Norman Reid, Regional Manager, National Commercial Bank; Dr. Franklin Johnston and Mr. Radley Reid, Senior Advisors to the Minister Ronald Thwaites; Mr. Clement Radcliffe, Chief Education Officer; and Mr. Frank Perolli, Director Marketing, Palmyra Foundation.
Minister Bartlett seized the opportunity to declare his partnership with the education ministry. He announced "this year, for the 50th anniversary, in response to the fallout in math performance, I am offering two scholarships, one to a math teacher from Spot Valley H.S. and a second to another math teacher from Irwin H.S. in the amount of J$100,000 per year for two years." Minister Bartlett said the teachers are required to specialize in math at the university level and return to the community with a degree to teach for at least 3 years. He asked the Regional Director to pick the teacher and he would present the award.
Education Minister Thwaites presented his team comprised of Franklin Johnson, PhD., Oxford University, who was brought back from the United Kingdom to Jamaica to assist the Ministry with its mission of national educational transformation. Johnson will show the Ministry how to get the best value of the $75 billion budget of taxpayers' money, $50 billion of which was privately donated. Ms. Bennett, Mico Teachers College, is responsible for Administrative coordination and Radley Reid, retired headmaster from Campion College with 40 years experience in education, is the Ministry's advisor of educational policy reform. Recently, Mr. Reid spoke on RJR Radio with host Dionne Jackson-Miller (Beyond the Headlines) about the Ministry's mandate to expand Early Childhood education which would require hiring competent teachers, as well as, hiring teachers for the disciplines of Science, Physics, English and Math.
Minister Thwaites in his report declared that English results are at 58% - 60% and 35% - 50% Numeracy to which he declared "simply not good enough". 66% Numeracy and 33% Literary in Grade 4 cannot achieve mastery and he called for a review of the educational system before moving ahead. The Minister asked "what can we do to change that?"
Wesley Hughes, CD, PhD, Director General, Planning Institute of Jamaica in the roadmap for national development stated, "By 2030, we see Jamaica as a country having a vibrant and sustainable economy, society and environment, a high level of human capital development, greater opportunities and access to these opportunities for the population, and a high level of human security." Education Minister Thwaites asked, "Will Jamaica reach 87% safety and 100% literacy by 2030?" It is with great optimism and a renewed call for partnership across the length and breadth of Jamaica, leadership, commitment and responsibility that, Vision 2030 will be achieved.
The Education Minister spoke boldly and assuredly of the way forward: "We have a godly tradition in education to raise up the whole human person, a composite of social adeptness and wholesome relationships. Teach our children about their Creator, Redeemer and whose spirit will enliven them and keep them through their lives." He encouraged volunteers to go into the schools to contribute: "You don't have to proselytize for own denomination" he said. "You could just read to the children and look around for other ways to help, such as developing a feeding programme.
In the Questions and Answer segment after the Minister spoke, Sharon Parris-Chambers, National Focal Point for Living Values Education, encouraged him to endorse a professional visit by Dr Neil Hawkes, PhD, Oxford University, an International Values Education Consultant, to return to the island after an absence of over six years to help the Ministry to develop a national values education programme similar to Seychelles, Australia, Mexico and the United Kingdom, to name a few. Dr Hawkes wrote a personal letter of interest to the Minister expressing his desire to work with Jamaica. The Education Minister was also presented with a copy of Dr. Hawkes' turnkey values workbook entitled "How to Inspire and Develop Positive Values in your Classroom." The Minister and Permanent Secretary privately acknowledged the submission and are reviewing same.
Living Values Education is alive and active in Jamaica. The LVE Team is involved not only in schools, but with many community activities and education leaders in an effort to promote "One Love" on this beautiful island and positive school climates and values in schools.
Upcoming in 2006!
Co-coordinators Sharon Parris-Chambers and Chirya Risely are excited about the March 2006 visit of Neil Hawkes. One of the Directors of the Association of Living Values Education International (ALIVE), Mr. Hawkes will be visiting from the UK to conduct values and attitude workshops island-wide March 7 through 18. Mr. Hawkes was part of the original group of 20 educators that met at UNICEF Headquarters in New York to create LVE; he was also a Senior Education Advisor for Moral and Spiritual Education in Oxfordshire, initiating and leading the highly successful Oxfordshire School Improvement Program.
Sharon Chambers, Abijah, Neil Hawkes and Beverly Crooks during the annual LVEP TTT near Oxford at Global Retreat Centre
Mr. Hawkes' recently published book, How to Inspire and Develop Positive Values in Your Classroom, describes methods he used as Headmaster of a low esteem school in the UK to change it into an internationally recognised model for values education. Neil writes in his CV: "Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools visited the schools in order to find out about those aspects of our work that have made us so successful."
The workshops in March 2006 will focus on: 1. Why have values education? The need. 2. Caring for the self. 3. The role of the educator as a model for values education. 4. Identification of values. 5. How to implement a values-based curriculum in your school and classroom. 6. Silent sitting and reflection. 7. The role of assembly. 8. The vision for your school. 9. Research, Resources and the Benefits of Living Values.
Mr Hawkes will also meet with educators in Jamaica that are implementing a Competition for 51 Primary Schools. They are being evaluated on school climate and appearance of the school, general attitude, deportment and hygiene of students, parental involvement in the schools, and the quality of art, poetry and poster entries.
2005 Trainings and Events
In January, LVE launched an "Envision Our School of Values" Flag Project, liaising with the 'Envision Our World of Values' Flag Project in Washington DC. The Director of Region 4, Mr Guthrie, is keen to see each school "flying the colors or flags of values." Values selected by students are reflected upon, written, and drawn on paper. Selected entries are then drawn or stitched on fabric with the value clearly written on both sides. The value flag is flown throughout the day on the flagpole in the courtyard of each school.
A Candlelight Service and Peace Concert titled "Reclaiming and Nurturing a Peaceful Society" was organised by Ministry of Education Region 4 Field Officer, Ms Adams and Pathways to Peace Committee. Held on January 27 at St Johns Methodist Church Hall in Montego Bay, its purpose was to focus attention on the importance of eliminating violence from Jamaica. Children and teachers from all schools in Region 4 attended to light candles in honour of special loved ones who had been killed in their community through violence. Over 200 names were read. All attending were given a value flag to carry.
Guest speaker, Superintendent of Police Dr Ivan Brown, reminded the audience of over 500 local residents, "Thoughts create attitude, attitude creates personality and character, and character creates our destiny." He called for a minute of silence to send divine light and love to those who had recently died through acts of violence, including a one-month old baby.
Abijah and Mackie Conscious, popular reggae singers, gave wonderful musical performances to conclude the show.
Song: Jamaica Land of Beauty Together in our country,
in love and brotherhood, we'll work and play in freedom,
as all God's children should. . . .
On the first Tuesday in March, LVE was once again involved in the annual Peace Day Program.
The LVE Team joined Reggae artist and LVE enthusiaist, Abijah, along with American authors Robert and Julia Roskind (The Gathering of the Healers and Rasta Heart: A Journey Into One Love) as they toured Jamaica hosting "One Love 'Big Up the Youths' Concerts" throughout Jamaica. Robert Roskind and his family have organised and sponsored over 50 Healing of the Nation Concerts islandwide, mostly in schools as well as public concerts on Bob Marley's birthday.
After each concert the ongoing effort of increasing One Love on school campuses is turned over to students, staff and faculty. They are invited to keep the momentum going and make their school into an example of a society healing itself with love and forgiveness. LVE leaders and educators participate in the follow-up.
In April of 2005, a training for over 35 Region 4 Guidance Counselors, Principals and students was conducted in Montego Bay to inspire and teach educators to use the new Incentive to Change LVEP Evaluation Form, to conduct the Envision our School of Values flag project and give a revision of LVEP resources and methodology. A power point presentation was prepared and copies of the presentation were sent to NY, UK and Mauritius for viewing at their international trainings and programs.
The Ministry of Education has endorsed the LVEP Evaluation Form B for use in all schools. Students who are having discipline problems are now being counseled in the areas of their behavioral strengths and weaknesses using the form as a guide. Each student is also given a value definition, poem or affirmation to study and speak from memory to a Guidance Counselor at their next meeting. For example, if the student is quick to get angry, he may be asked to learn by heart this poem by Jean P Brown, an educator from Negril All Age School.
To Respond or React
When you are accused of whatever, for whatever, whenever,
Choose to respond amicably And humbly.
Never react to an accusation.
For though it may sound And hurt terribly,
To react may not change the situation.
Choose to respond and not react.
Response is to a soft answer, which turns away wrath.
While reaction is to grievous words,
They only stir up anger.
On May 19, at Sheffield All Age School, the second annual Mini Miss and Mr Values and Attitudes Coronation Show was held. LVEP has been implemented at the school for the past two years under the direction of the principal, Mr Sprague, and the guidance counselor, Ms Wedderburn.
Proceeds from the show go toward the school's Guidance Department Outreach Programmes. The Coronation Show is held to promote creativity and positive personality characteristics. Students are judged in deportment, intelligence, awareness and discipline. During the school year a number of values such as honesty, obedience, courtesy, tolerance, humility, respect and patience were taught on a weekly basis.
Also in May, a Positive Thinking Course for held for students from Sudbury All Age School. Puppets were the teachers during the Girls' Day values lessons.
Mr Negative, Ms Worry, Br Necessary and Sister Positive ... and ... Reflection photo
In September, at Anchovy Primary School there was a Values for National Heroes Day. Guidance Counselor, Mrs V. Lindo, requested LVE to help her run a five-week values program to tie in with Hands Across Jamaica for Righteousness. She selected four values, Peace, Respect, Honesty and Unity, and focused on one value a week. The fifth week's program included a Values Fashion Show and a celebration of National Heroes Day.
The Hands Across Jamaica program was launched locally on June 15, 2005. This is a schools-based youth initiative designed to "make plain" the value, vision and principles of the Motto, Anthem and Pledge (M.A.P.) of Jamaica to our young people, and to empower them to run with that message to their schools and communities. "Turn your hand" at drama, dance, posters, brochures and other exhibits was an integral part of the program, asking youth to show Jamaica what they have learnt from the nation's Motto, Anthem and Pledge. A national competition will be held to select parish and national winners.
Better me, Better Jamaica
On September 21, the National Government, through the Ministries of Education and Information, revitalized its National Values and Attitudes Program by launching the Annual Values and Attitudes Competition for Primary Schools 2005 in Montego Bay. The broader society is targeted, with networking, monitoring and training programmes being organized to assist with changing the mindset, nurturing sense of self and reinforcing wholesome values and positive attitudes. The core values for immediate focus are Respect, Honesty, Truthfulness, Forgiveness, Tolerance, Peace, Love, Fairness.
Mr Burchell Whiteman, Minister of Information, Dr. Donald Rhodd, Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Ms Monica Holness, A.C.E.O. Guidance and Counseling Actg., and Vincent Guthrie, Director of Ministry of Education, Region 4, were keynote speakers. All the Ministry representatives expressed hearty appreciation of the work of the Living Values Education during their talks.
In November, LVE continued with its annual Parent Appreciation Programs. November is designated as Parents Appreciation Month in Jamaica, promoting the feeling of community cooperation and building confidence in schools as a safe place where positive character building, cognitive skills and individual and family values develop. The Prime Minister, Ministry of Education and Governor General's office sent messages for the day. Teachers and students entertained parents with songs, dance and dramas demonstrating ways to help make every child feel valued and inspired greater care, compassion and understanding in parents. Special speakers were invited to share personal empowerment principles and stories and parenting "tips" were offered. Parents engaged in prayer and reflection to visualise what values they wanted their children to have and what sort of relationships they wanted with their children.
School bulletin boards were decked out with artwork based on the theme of family values. One such contribution was the following poem by a student at Anchovy Primary School:
Poem to Our Parents
If we were asked: "Who cares for me, from now until eternity?"
No folk, or friend, or anyone, but only my parents.
A gift of life they gave to me and tend to it most lovingly.
A roof over our heads, warm clothing on our bed
Speak of their love for me, in time of sickness or in health.
They shower on me hard earned wealth,
And close to me they'll always be, providing comfort and security.
When I do a mistake make, corrective action they do take,
To make me pure and good and true, so I would be a good parent too.
My prayers will always be for thee, brothers, sisters, mummy and daddy,
For life, for love, for security, can be given by my parents.
On November 28, Barracks Road Primary began a three-month pilot called All School participation Values and Attitudes Program with more than 1600 children. Our first faculty training was November 11. The first four weeks will focus on the value of respect. Acting Principal Ms Shippy and GC Pat Headley and faculty are most enthusiastic and supportive. One of the main strengths of this complementary Living Values program is its methodology of reflection:
Barracks Road Primary children reflecting on the Value of Peace
During this pilot project the entire school will have reflection times four times a day. During these times music will play through the central loudspeaker and a teacher will speak the reflection points on the selected value. For example: The first respect is to respect myself – to know I am naturally valuable. Respect is knowing others are valuable too.
We are also following the methods found in both the LVEP series of five books and a recently published book, How to inspire and develop positive values in your classroom, by Neil Hawkes.
2004 Trainings and Events
On May 27, Region 4 Principals and Guidance Counselors attended a full day LVEP Educator Workshop held at Coco la Palm Resort Conference Room in Negril. Educators from over 30 schools in the parishes of Hanover, Westmoreland and St James met together under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education for a lively, and informative day of how to create a values-based atmosphere in the classroom. Organized by Sharon Chambers, Coordinator, this excellent program focused on the values of honesty, love and caring.
The LVEP Overview and History, how to complete the LVEP Evaluation forms, and ideas and suggestions for future value based schools projects, completed the morning program. Sheffield All Age entertained by showing their video of their first Living Values Coronation Fashion Show held in January 04, which was a great success.
Katherine Mates, Director of Hanover Mediation Center, and her team, explained and demonstrated a colorful and deep understanding of conflict resolution skills for the Jamaican culture in an experiential, entertaining and lively afternoon session.
On November 1, a three-hour LVEP Awareness Program for Hanover and Westmoreland Principals and Guidance Counselors was held at the Riu Hotel in Negril. This was organised by LVE coordinator Sharon Chambers with guest speaker, Mr Winston Wellington, Founder of NEET. Areas covered included updates of the USA and UK TTTs, LVEP Evaluation Forms, and details of GNN-Good News Network Media Program for students. Each Educator attending received a gift of new book "How to Inspire and Develop Positive Values in your Classroom" by Neil Hawkes. Riu Resort offered services and refreshments without charge.
The All Island Annual Guidance Counselors Association Meeting held December 8-10 met at the Starfish Resort in Trelawny. LVE set up an exhibit and spoke with over 150 guidance counselors. LVEP programs were scheduled for many schools throughout the island for 2005.
In December, LVE continued its annual tradition of an LVE Santa's Elf visiting local Montego Bay schools! This year, the Living Values holiday team visited several schools to give values lessons, holiday cheer and sweeties! The Sudbury All Age children enjoyed Rudolph's story and learning that it is OK to be different. Even a red nose is beneficial!!
Number of Sites Using Living Values Education
Total number of sites 65
"One Love" Concerts and Bullies
At each concert, bullies were asked to come forward. At first they were reluctant (people started pointing them out in the crowd) until they were reminded that Bob Marley was once a bully – a gang leader called Tuff Gong. Some of the other elder Rastas reasoned with Bob and transformed him into a messenger of love – the role God had created for him – and everyone. The bullies were asked to come forward and commit to being a "leader of love." With the applause of the school, many agreed and received a prize.
Spanish Town High School Concert
Over 1200 students attended the Spanish Town High Concert including students from six surrounding schools. The concert included a moving address by the mayor, Dr. Raymond Notice. He said, "We want you, our future of tomorrow, to be our comforters. We want you, our children, to teach love in our community. Jamaica is depending on you. Spanish Town must rise and will rise. One Love music will help us to rise."
"Basically, what we are doing is bringing one of Jamaica's greatest assets – the conscious reggae artists -- to one of its greatest problems -- crime and despair of its youths," Julia Roskind said. "We are only the catalysts for this."
"This is not just a performance," says Abijah, "but we reason with the youths as well. We encourage them to exercise love and forgiveness in their lives."
Forgiving the Thief Results in a Gift
In March of 2003, children who had eagerly awaited their Peace Day celebration at Negril All Age School, West End, were disappointed when the program was cancelled as a result of a robbery the night before at the school. When invited guests, LVE Coordinators Sharon Parris-Chambers and Chirya Risely, arrived to share Peace Day with the school they were not aware that Mrs. Wedderburn had cancelled the performance due to a general feeling of low morale.
Chirya offered to talk to the children to uplift their spirits. They were asked to recall what they had learned from a prior visit of the guests last year, when they had shared Living Values concepts. Some children replied, "Soar like an eagle!" "Why flap your wings like a chicken?" You can float high up in your balloon!" She reminded the children of the National Values and Attitudes program, and shared the values that are being focused on nationwide: respect, peace, love, tolerance, forgiveness, honesty, truthfulness and fairness.
Chirya asked the students to repeat and reflect on "Let peace begin with me." There was a significant reduction in the sadness and tension amongst the students. Spirits were raised when one of the teachers, Ms. Jean Brown, led the children and guests in singing peace songs. Mrs. Wedderburn closed the short program by asking the children to forgive the thief who robbed the school of its belongings and in effect tried to rob them of Peace Day.
A subsequent article titled "NAA School Forgives Thief" generated community support; a generous donor came forth to refurbish this tiny aging school into a more value-able place of learning and light! Negril All Age now has several new, golden buildings and a newly surfaced playground for the children.