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On returning to school after a long holiday
Posted: Tuesday, September 5, 2006


This letter is addressed to all the students(53) who participaated in the vacation reading project at the Russell Latapy School conducted by Ms. Linda Edwards and three colleagues from the USA., July 17-28, 2006

My dear students/friends:

It is good that you go back to school today. Too long a vacation period can make you forget important information. I am home today for the LAbor DAy Holiday in the US.

We, your vacation teachers, have been talking about you almost every day. We havve been back in school for a month already. We have sent pictures of you reading, learning and doing the morning warm-up to friends who helped with donations of learning materials and ideas, including stories written especially for you. They kept saying "What beautiful children." Yes, you are beautiful, every one of you.I want you to remember that always.

Now I want to give you some pointers about being successful in this new school year.

The first point is to focus. Stay focussed on what the teacher is teaching. Even if you do not understand what is said, write it down as best you can, then ask her/him first chance you get. Try not to daydream, or tune out because "It's boring". Some things just have to be learned by memorization, like the multiplication tables, or the spelling of difficult words. Oh. I know you have calculators to tell you that, but if you press a wrong key, and you do not know the approximate answer, you will not know if you are wrong.So, learn the mulitiplication tables. Higher Mathematics start from such humble beginnings.

Leave your cell-phone at home. Remember how I collected them on mornings, and dave them back when you were ready to walk home? I do that at my regular school here in Houston, Texas also. Except that I give those to the principal, who does not give them back until the end of the week when she gives them to the parents.

Cellphones are statusy in school, but in the school where I work, even the adults must turn off their cellphones during class. I see that the Ministry of Education is looking into this. Take it from me, if you must have it at school at all, it is better in the principal's office where you can collect it at the end of the day.Stolen cellphones can cause fights. No one learns while protecting things from being stolen.

Read something every day, something that the teacher did not assign. Read from a book, read the newspaper, read a comic book. Read. Write something every day also. At my school we have a program called DEAR: Drop Everything And READ. Fifteen minutes. We also have a reflection period fror fifteen minutes during which we write a summary of the things that happened on this day and how we feel about them. You can use both these ideas at home, if they cannot be done in school.

Get enough sleep at night by going to bed early. Eat your breakfast every day, and avoid those sweet syruppy juice drinks that do you no good.Eat fruit every day.

Remember Dr. Bratt's advice? Eating the old fashioned healthy foods is better than eating fast food. Fried Chicken and French Fries is an Eat Fast, Die Fast meal. OK, I know it tastes good, but it was meant to taste good so as to disguise the danger of eating it. His second advice was study hard, and you too could be a doctor.

Remember Mr. Trevor Marshall's advice? You may not start off being an engineer. You may be a tailor first, but work at your dream every day. A tailor knows measurements, so does an engineer.

Finally, I want to remind you about the advice of my student Betsy, aged 13, whose story was the one about the girl who wanted to audition to be a singer. She got her wish. Betsy ended with "You can be anything you want to be."

That is true.

So, go to school prepared every day. Do your homework. Read, write, leave the cell phone home, attend school every day, eat a good brakfast, pay attention in class, ask questions about what you do not understand, and Dream Big. Work to achieve your dream.

Ms Judith Gupton-Wiley, Ms. Aulyn Legall and Ms. Merle Howe join me in wishing you the best school year you have ever had. Go out there and be something big, learn!

We hope to see you alll next July.

I hope some one of your teachers will see this, and pass it to you.

Linda Edwards

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