Bendal’s Primary School
120 students; Grades K to 6
Genevieve Gomes, Principal
Background from Hands: Bendal’s Primary School has an energetic, literacy-focused champion, Principal Genevieve Gomes, who is determined to make the most of the 2014-2015 shipment of the new MoneyGram Foundation-funded books from Hands by creating a lending library. The students at this medium-size primary school feel the excitement of the rejuvenated library, too, and are thrilled to be able to borrow books that they have almost instantly fallen in love with—the Disney blockbuster Frozen is a big hit, as are (for the boys) the graphically exciting “fact books” about storms, electricity, volcanoes, insects, lightning—all the things that draw boys into reading. The school’s library committee, headed by Andrea Williams, is a vital element in the sustainability of the library; Josette Watkins, the school’s reading teacher, is fully onboard with the new lending library.
A local volunteer, Hilesha Humphreys, recruited by Suzanne Cartier Bowker, a Hands Board member and Antigua resident, enlisted her artistic friends to create a mural at the school (Bowker generously covered the cost of paint and supplies). The Hands Literacy Link for Antigua, Lisa Tomlinson, will be monitoring future developments and needs with the school library. The 2014-2015 Hands Wish Lists shipment (at 440 books, it can be considered a “starter set”) was our first-ever to Bendal’s Primary School; given the excitement and utilization of the books that we’ve observed, Hands should send another like-size shipment in 2015-2016 to round out their collection.
30 students; Grades K to 6
Esther Dickenson, Principal
Background from Hands: This small rural school has never been assisted by Hands. Their school library was badly damaged by Hurricane Gonzalo in 2014—many books were ruined. The library building has not been repaired, but another three-room building nearby will lend itself nicely to becoming the new library. This building shows no sign of water or termite damage, the floor could do with being tiled and the walls painted, there is no furniture, and there are a few shelves on one of the walls (more shelving is needed). In the meantime, each class has a small library with well displayed books, and the teachers share the small collection of books they have. The Principal is excited at the prospect of an infusion of new books from Hands to create a working library. The Hands Literacy Link for Antigua, Lisa Tomlinson, notes, “Principal Dickenson shows passion and enthusiasm and I believe she will work well with Hands to improve the literacy of her students.”
Boys Training School 13 children; Ages 13 to 17
Mrs. Hector, Principal
Background from Hands: This is a well-regarded residential program for at-risk boys and juvenile offenders. Students attend primary and secondary schools nearby. The Boys Training School has a library and a computer station within a converted windmill. The school needs reading books and resource books for homework and school assignments.
Cedar Grove Primary School 160 students; Grades K to 6
Angela James, Principal
Background from Hands: The library at this medium-size school is bright and airy, the books are well presented, and the furniture is adequate. There is no “reading corner” with a rug or cushions, but on the whole the library is a stimulating space that benefits the children's literacy skills. Teachers bring their students to the library, but not consistently. Each class has student librarians who monitor the borrowing and returning of books. The Student Council would like the library to be used more often and more consistently. Principal James says that the services of a librarian (three days each week, four hours a day) would help with the library being used more effectively. During Education Week, the schools have a Literacy Day, where various literacy events take place. What is needed most is a stipend to pay for a librarian, most likely a local parent.
Five Islands Primary School 447 students; Grades K to 6
Hyacinth Gonsalves Barriero, Principal
Background from Hands: Hands Across the Sea has been working with this large primary school for several years now, rejuvenating their library with a total of 517 new books as part of the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 Hands Wish Lists shipment. In that time, school staff have worked to remove the old, inappropriate “donation dumped” books from the shelves, and have brightened up the cramped library space with jazzy new paint and a child-friendly arrangement of books on the shelves. It’s all worked: the children are excited about reading! The next step for this overcrowded school is a big new building (the government is taking care of that) and a “top up” of great new books from Hands.
Background from Hands: This rural school's library is spacious and well laid out, with enough shelving for more books. The books are clearly labeled and inviting, with topical areas for project work. Furniture consists of desks and chairs and there is a reading corner with a rug. The borrowing system is a composition book (Librarian Adams would like a computerized checkout system, but the Wi-Fi connection is intermittent.) According to Lisa Tomlinson, the Hands Literacy Link for Antigua, “The school makes good use of the 317 books already received as part of the 2014-2015 Hands Wish Lists shipment. The library is well utilized but quite limited for a secondary school. It would benefit from a further donation of books.”
Green Bay Primary School 298 students; Grades K to 6
Mr. Christopher Roberts, Principal; Ms. Kendra Thomas, Teacher/Librarian
Background from Hands: This urban school on the outskirts of St. John’s, the capital of Antigua, already has an excellent library. The library is bright, airy, spacious, the books sorted by subjects, with fabulous artwork on the walls (courtesy of the students and a local artist), an inviting “reading corner” with a comfy rug and cushions, a committed volunteer who comes in daily to run the library and assist the children with their reading, and a small storeroom for books to be sorted. So what does the school need? Green Bay Primary is running a pilot program to create a pre-school in the school. The pre-school component is working well but needs more resources, particularly reading books and literacy games for Pre-School to Grade 2. Principal Roberts, recently returned from several years of study in Barbados, is enthusiastic and passionate about raising literacy levels. Green Bay is one of the most socially-deprived communities in Antigua and he believes that improving literacy is an excellent place to start. The Hands Literacy Link for Antigua, Lisa Tomlinson, notes, “The Principal is highly motivated and inspirational. I am confident that the pre-schoolers and early grades will benefit greatly by support from Hands.”
Holy Trinity Primary School 229 students; Grades K to 6
Mrs. Harris, Principal; Jacklyn Beazer, Librarian
Background from Hands: Holy Trinity Primary School is located on beautiful, sparsely-populated Barbuda, the sister island of Antigua. The library at the school is well used: students visit the library every week and have a session with Librarian Beazer; they borrow books, and are sometimes asked to write book reports. The librarian is very energetic and enthusiastic—she does very good work at the school and the students benefit greatly from her positive attitude. The library is very inspirational and inviting, with lots of motivational slogans on the walls, a “books for boys” area, and other areas for different activities. The books are well displayed, there is great shelving, and all that is needed is a “top-up” of new books.
Irene B. Williams Secondary School 307 students; Grades 7 to 11
Mr. Vere Shaw, Principal; Charlene Weaver, Teacher/Librarian
Background from Hands: This school was converted from an old primary school facility into a secondary school, and Principal Shaw, his staff, and librarian Charlene Weaver are committed and highly enthusiastic about helping these students succeed. Hands sent a selection of reference books and Caribbean study guides to update a library that was launched years ago by the Mill Reef Fund. The library space at Irene B. Williams Secondary is of adequate size and has plenty of shelving, and the staff are gradually renovating the room with new flooring, more tables and reading desks, and a supply of young adult fiction to entice secondary school readers—Hands looks forward to supporting this library and school staff again.
Jennings Primary School 200 students; Grades K to 6
Mrs. Denise Solomon, Principal
Background from Hands: Unsinkable energy and an abiding passion for books, reading, and literacy are two of the many things we look for in a school principal, and Denise Solomon has both and more. Her school also has a ready-to-go library space—newly painted, with a tiled floor, proper lighting, and air-conditioning—that Solomon has converted from a teacher’s resource room (now moved to the IT room). The school’s remedial reading teacher, Mrs. Denise Tong, will be setting up the library (color-coding the books by reading level, instituting a simple checkout system, cultivating student librarians) according to the proven methodology of the Hands Across the Sea Library Manual for Primary Schools. The feeling at this school is as upbeat and positive as its leader, and we believe that new books sent to this school will be read, taken home, and treasured by the students.
Liberta Primary School
125 students; Grades K to 6
Pauleen Simon, Principal; Mrs. Hayward Simon, Librarian and Reading Teacher Background from Hands: The school library has come a long way in a short time. Last November the library space was full of black sacks of garbage, and there were no books on the shelves. With the help of Lisa Tomlinson, the Hands Literacy Link for Antigua, and Mick and Isabella, a sailing couple who are very handy with paint and brushes, the library space has been revitalized. Now the library space is brightly painted, clean and tidy, with books displayed on the shelves, sorted by grade level. And the reborn library is open! Children are coming in to borrow books. Mrs. Simon has embraced the methodology of the Hands Across the Sea Library Manual for Primary Schools, and has been given another teacher to help her manage the library. Now a start has been made rejuvenating the library, it looks set to grow from strength to strength.
Old Road Primary School
94 students; Grades K to 6
Mrs. Ryona Joseph, Principal
Background from Hands: Old Road Primary School is a small rural school with a big heart and an even bigger passion for books, reading, and the advancement of child literacy—on the basis of their resulting child literacy success story, we have awarded the school the 2014-2015 Hands Literacy Award for Antigua. The enthusiasm for literacy at this school comes from the dedication of Principal Mrs. Ryona Joseph, Grade 5 and Grade 6 teacher Mrs. Leonara Thomas (who is also the teacher-in-charge-of-the-library, and spearheaded the development), and Mrs. Julia Irish, the school’s remedial reading teacher. They and the rest of the school’s teachers utilize the resources of the library in highly beneficial ways: for read-aloud with the students, for discussion time and class projects, and for helping each child find his or her way through the collection to the book that can grab their attention and steal their heart (Frozen is a big hit this year). The Old Road Primary School library is on the small side (space is at a premium at this school) but it is well organized, inviting, and easily accessible to students—in fact, there are no old, inappropriate books left after the library team culled and got rid of (via a book sale, giving them away, and—last resort—incineration) the old bunch of ancient, donated library-discard titles. Just about the only books left now are the wide variety of new, age- and culturally-appropriate books sent by Hands (over the past two years, we’ve sent the school 700 new books, including a new encyclopedia set in the 2014-2015 Hands Wish Lists shipment. The library at Old Road Primary School is a very busy, very happy place—the students are reading, reading, reading. All that’s needed now is U.S. $2,000 in new books (the Literacy Award prize) to fill the gaps in their collection.
Olivia David Primary School 165 students; Grades K to 6
Mrs. Joseph, Principal; Mrs. Willock, library community volunteer
Background from Hands: The students at this medium-size urban school borrow books and the library, which has received significant support from the Mill Reef Fund in recent years, is well utilized. But some of the older, “donation dumped” books from long ago are a bit shabby (the Principal insists on holding onto old books). If Hands is able to assist this school, the Hands Literacy Link for Antigua, Lisa Tomlinson, must first persuade Principal Joseph to get rid of the old books.
Pare's Primary School 110 students; Grades K to 6
Mrs. Lois Drew, Principal; Mrs. Roberts, Reading Specialist
Background from Hands: When students complete Pares Primary, they generally graduate to Pare’s Secondary, Glanvilles Secondary, or to a school in St. John's (the capital). Wherever they go, the students from Pare’s Primary have better literacy skills than other feeder school, thanks to the Mill Reef Fund-created Literacy Center. Reading Specialist Mrs. Roberts ensures that the students make full use of the library and borrow books and she encourages the class teachers to bring their students to the library as often as possible. This literacy centre is a model of good practice in operation, and all that's needed are fresh graded readers for Kindergarten to Grade 2.
Pare's Secondary School 450 students; Grades 7 to 11
Rosalind Beazer, Principal; Mrs. Maxime, Librarian
Background from Hands: Mrs. Maxime, the librarian, excels at her job. The library at this large school is beautifully presented and spacious, with lots of sturdy metal shelving and clear labeling of books and special-interest sections. There is a small section of “easy readers” and a book corner “For Boys,” which has proved very popular. Mrs. Maxine is very dedicated to improving literacy, and she is enthusiastic and receptive to school. Hands sent this school 375 new books as part of the 2014-2015 Hands Wish Lists shipment, and we'd like to send them a "top up" of new books.
Parham Primary School 86 students; Grades K to 6
Miss Ledeatte, Principal; Mrs. Ford, Librarian
Background from Hands: Parham Primary School is a rural school located in the quiet village of Parham in the Parish of St. Peter’s. This tiny school only has 86 students, most of who come from single-parent households. Unemployment is a big issue in the community. Most of the adults who are fortunate enough to be employed work in the hospitality sector or are farmers.
The school has enthusiastic staff who are trying to make good use of what they have available to them. Unfortunately, the school library is filled with old, out-of-date, and inappropriate books and magazines. The school is very eager to remove the old books and replace them with new, engaging material. The library space is in relatively good shape—it’s secure with strong shelving, nice tiling, painted walls, and adequate furniture. The school’s librarian is very dedicated and eager to begin working with the Hands Literacy Link for Antigua, Lisa Tomlinson. Currently, each class is taken to the library weekly. Due to the lack of suitable books students are unable to borrow books at this time. A shipment of new books could make a world of difference to this school. Staff members are eager to transform the library and continue working at improving literacy levels in the school—and the students are eager to begin reading engaging books.
St. Mary’s Secondary School 285 students; Grades 7 to 11
Mr. Casey Phillip, Principal; Mrs. Lambert, community volunteer
Background from Hands: This rural secondary school currently has no “official” librarian, but they have Mrs. Lambert, a generous community volunteer. The library is currently being used for Library Skills classes and as a reference library for other subjects, but it is not set up as a lending library (this is something Principal Phillip is working toward). With the recent implementation of universal secondary education, many of the students coming to the school unfortunately lack basic reading skills. The school has employed a teacher to work with these students, but the school is sorely lacking in resources in this area. If Hands is able to assist the school, in addition to reference books for the sciences, history, careers, dictionaries and thesauruses, reading games and material that would inspire the students who have little or no reading skills is needed.
St. Mary’s Secondary School 157 students; Grades K to 6
Susan Deane, Principal
This is a well-run private school with enthusiastic teachers and articulate students. The school is over-subscribed every year (the current 158 students is the absolute maximum), with a multicultural mix of students transported in from all over the island. There is an average of 24 students in each class and there are two teaching assistants who take the slower readers in small groups and individually to advance their reading skills. The well-organized library is timetabled; all classes are brought to the library every week by their class teacher, and all students borrow books weekly. The school has three student library monitors whose responsibility is to keep the library neat and tidy. The school library has a lot of books, but many of them are old; what St. Nicholas Primary School needs is an infusion of great new, relevant books.
St. Nicholas Primary School 157 students; Grades K to 6
Susan Deane, Principal
Background from Hands: This is a well-run private school with enthusiastic teachers and articulate students. The school is over-subscribed every year (the current 157 students is the absolute maximum), with a multicultural mix of children transported in from all over the island. There is an average of 24 students in each class and there are two teaching assistants who work with the slower readers in small groups and individually to advance their reading skills. The well-organized library is timetabled; all classes are brought to the library every week by their class teacher, and all students borrow books weekly. The school has three student library monitors who keep the library neat and tidy. The library has a lot of books, but many of them are old; what St. Nicholas Primary School needs is an infusion of great new, relevant books.
Urlings Primary School 58 students; Grades K to 6
Miss Temika Christian, Acting Principal
Background from Hands: Temika Christian has worked at this small rural school for 15 years, and is now Acting Principal. The school received metal shelving as part of the 2014-2015 Hands Wish Lists shipment, but no books. The students are bought to the library every week by their class teacher; the older students borrow books and the lower grades read in the library. Ms. Christian wants to keep the library open until 5:30 in the afternoon to enable the community to use it. The culling of the old, “donation dumped” books has begun; five sacks of books have been put aside for a book sale (or disposal). The books were being sold for $1 each to the students. The roof of the library, unfortunately, is termite-infested; the Ministry of Education has been informed, and the school is waiting for it to be treated. The library is a welcoming space, bright, airy and well decorated. The shelving is well arranged, secure, dry and termite free. The books are well displayed but covered by large curtains to protect them from the termite dust dropping from the ceiling. Urlings Primary School needs an infusion of new books—the Principal is quite enthusiastic about the students use of the Library—and, of course, remediation of the termite problem.
Willikies Primary School
100 students; Grades K to 6
Mr. Denmore Roberts, Principal; Miss Samuel, Teacher in Charge of the Library
Background from Hands: Willikies Primary is a rural school located on the Eastern side of Antigua.The Principal, Mr. Roberts is committed to working towards the betterment of the children and he is supported by dedicated teachers who show strong leadership. The school has a wonderful vision of renovating the Spanish classroom and transforming it into a beautiful, engaging library filled with relevant, appropriate, new books. Mr. Roberts and Miss Samuel, the Spanish teacher, have already taken charge of the library renovation project at the school. The untiled space was filled with desks and chairs (it’s still an active classroom) and in need of some paint. With support from the Hands Literacy Link for Antigua, Lisa Tomlinson, the school has already painted over the future library space and arranged for the space to be tiled. The sturdy shelves which line the walls were recently cleaned and all of the old, donated books were removed. Mr. Roberts understands the need for providing his students with engaging and relevant material and is constantly fighting to remove the donations of old, used books that continue to arrive on his doorstep. Everyone at the school is eager to fill the shelves with brand-new books. A reading rug and pillows will help to complete the school’s vision for the space. Literacy is a priority at this school. Mr. Roberts and Miss Samuel and the rest of the school are eager to have the library operational as soon as possible and working hard to make that a reality.
92 students; Grades K to 6 Alice Laronde, Principal Background from Hands: Since partnering with Hands for the first time last year, this rural school in the Kalinago territory has been working hard preparing their central library space, under the direction of passionate Principal Alice Laronde. Old, redundant, and damaged books were cleared out; the space was opened up to create more room and mats sourced so the students could read in the new central library. With the space and book check-out now in place, these avid readers have been very excited and appreciative of the great new books received so far from Hands donors. More books for boys as well as some chapter and series books will ensure every student will find something of interest in the library and keep the students motivated to read. The school can already boast of having one published book to their name, The Snake King of The Kalinago; the new books may well be just what are needed to inspire another literary creation.
Bagatelle Primary School
59 students; Pre-School to Grade 6 Angela Gregoire, Principal
Background from Hands: This picturesque village school on the southeast coast has been very focused on literacy for many years and new Principal Angela Gregoire is as passionate about it as her predecessor Maurice Guiste. The school has been fortunate to have received assistance from a few Peace Corps Volunteers over the years and with the help of committed parent library manager Hilcia Harriette, they continue to maintain their central library and find innovative ways to motivate students to read. The school can boast of good literacy levels but appreciates that these improvements take years of continual hard work and focus. Therefore they are keen to ensure library sustainability and maintain student interest in reading by keeping their library stocked with exciting and interesting books. They also recognize the importance of starting early and need help in obtaining books for their pre-school students. Furthermore, the school aims to encourage their students more with creative writing, and as many famous writers can attest, the way to good writing is to keep reading awesome books.