‘Literacy makes all other learning possible’

Students of the Grand Bahama Academy enjoyed a highly interactive special assembly on Monday as they were reminded of the importance of literacy. 

In an effort to sensitize their students on the importance of literacy, the Grand Bahama Academy of Seventh-Day Adventists is hosting its Annual Literacy Week under the theme, ‘Read, Lead, Succeed.’


To begin the week of activities a special assembly was held on Monday morning, where faculty and students welcomed Mary Russell, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Director of Education, who served as this year’s guest speaker. 


Addressing the entire school, Russell challenged all in attendance, particularly those in the primary school, to embrace reading, as all that they do in life will involve literacy. 


“Literacy makes all other learning possible. How can you learn about Social Studies or Science if you are not able to read? 


“Literacy is very important, it is the most important part of education … it involves reading, writing, speaking and listening to gain more knowledge,” Russell said. 


“Without the ability to read you will not have the ability to apply knowledge. Knowledge is power, literacy is essential for learning and you must be literate to accomplish tasks. The ability to read and write is a part of everything that we do; we cannot live without it, because it is tied to everything. 


“Literacy is about being intellectually, culturally and electronically capable in the workplace. Children who have developed strong reading skills perform better in school and have a healthier knowledge,” Russell stated. 


“When you become adults you need strong literacy skills, you may wonder why you need them, but in order to raise children with strong literacy skills, you need to have strong literacy skills so that you can impart something to your children.” Learning to read begins long before a child enters school, Russell noted. “It begins when parents read to their children. You need to learn to read so that when you become an adult, you can read to your children. 


“When you become an adult you also need strong literacy skills to become an employee, in order to be safe on the job, and in order for your coworkers to be safe.”


She noted that in order to be active in the community and in order to be a good leader, literacy plays an integral part. “What if you want to become a politician, a politician definitely must be literate. You must be a good speaker, a good reader and writer. No one wants to listen to anyone who cannot speak well or to someone you do not understand.”


Noting other reasons why learning to read is important, Russell said, people with low literacy skills have much lower rates of employment. “There is nothing wrong with working on the garbage truck at Sanitation Services, but imagine having a Masters Degree, you can become a principal or anything else that you want to be. However, if you don’t take the time to read and become literate, then you are going to have a lower paying job. 


“A lot of us take reading and writing for granted; some of you come to school and play around, but please do not take it for granted; because you need those reading skills in order to be successful and in order to become great leaders.”


Russell said that in today’s society an individual is considered successful based on their education, jobs and other accomplishments; therefore, being literate is very, very important.  


Avoney Wellington, Grand Bahama Academy Acting Principal shared that the importance of hosting such an event on an annual basis.


“This is the start of our Literacy Week, we began the week under the theme ‘Read, Lead and Succeed.’ Every year we try to sensitize the students on different aspects of things that affect their learning. Literacy Week is one of those things that we have on the calendar, to help to remind the students the importance of being literate and how they can use literacy to help them in every facet of learning and how it will help them to be successful. 


“It is an annual event and it is actually organized by the Language Teacher Ms. Tyrill. This week she has planned various activities for the students to participate in,” Wellington noted.


“I really think these activities help the children to remain focused and help them to understand that when they read it not only helps them to enjoy reading, but it also develops their vocabulary and their writing skills. 


“As we know writing is one aspect of language that some children find difficult to do, but once you have a wide vocabulary it is so much easier to improve their writing skills,” shared the acting principal.  


Sherita Tyrill, Language Teacher, Grand Bahama Academy disclosed, “This is an annual celebration for us, just so that we can remind students and place particular emphasis on the importance of reading. As early as possible, we try to get young students sensitized to the importance of being able to read and to think so that they can make decisions on their own. 


“We are trying to incorporate these plans for this week. Today we are having the literacy kick-off, where we had different students performing and now we have our guest speaker addressing the students.” 


Throughout the remainder of the week Tyrill said that the students will be exposed to impromptu story writing, character dress-up day, as well as have the opportunity to read with a parent or guardian during lunch periods.


She also shared why Russell was chosen as this year’s guest speaker. “Mary Russell is a veteran educator, she has served in a number of schools here on the island and she is passionate about education. She is now the Director of Education for East Grand Bahama, so she comes with a wealth of knowledge. 


“We really wanted someone who has interacted with students from the lower level, to the high school level, to engage our students. I think that she is doing a fantastic job interacting with the students today. We usually try to choose people who can impact our students, who can share their experiences as how reading has impacted their lives and brought them to this point in their lives,” Tyrill said. 


“As this is something that we do on a yearly basis, I believe it will be great if other schools would also incorporate this into their schools if they haven’t done so already. 


“For us, it is a society thing, we are all one Grand Bahama; it would be good for us to come together as schools to try and put something together on an annual basis to pique the interest. We see a lot of students, that although they can read, there are some challenges in comprehension and I think that we really need to build that aspect of literacy. 


“Hopefully, there will be something that we can put together, as teachers and as educators, for the island of Grand Bahama,” concluded Tyrill. 


Published  Wednesday, January 25, 2017 


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