Tunbridge Wells teacher helps her former Jamaican school

Olympian Louis Smith
EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Crofts Hill Primary & Junior High School, Jamaica

During a visit to the Caribbean island early in 2020, Lorna Culmer was approached by a neighbour’s children asking to use her computer or tablet for schoolwork.

The former teacher at St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School in Tunbridge Wells said: “I thought: ‘You must be able to do that at school,’ but they couldn’t. The teachers had their own, and a few children might have a tablet. I asked the neighbour to put me in contact with the head,” she told the Times.

However, when the letter from Crofts Hill Primary & Junior High School arrived, the list of items required was longer than Lorna had expected.

The school needed technology for its special intervention programme, which targets students in grades 2 and 3 who are at risk of leaving primary without attaining the necessary numeracy and literacy skills, wrote Principal Nadine Small.

In addition, Miss Small said: “Our school has undergone major infrastructural repairs due to a termite infestation which damaged most of our furniture including shelves and tables in our library. As a rural school, a library is of vital importance to promote and develop research skills and other literary skills.”

As well as furnishings for the special education rooms and the library, the school needed plenty of technology – computers and laptops for the Special Education Resource Room, additional computers for the computer room, smart TVs, SmartBoards projectors, educational toys, and other resources such as reading kits, pens, pencils, readers, said the letter.

“They need a whole bloomin’ school!” was Lorna’s reaction.

Having taught for over 20 years at St Augustine’s before moving to Bexhill in 2017, Lorna had many contacts in Tunbridge Wells to help her gather supplies.

Through her Facebook page under the nickname ‘Sunshine’, she managed to raise about £1,000, and donated a number of tablets in December 2020.

However, she has now also secured reduced shipping rates to Jamaica, and is collecting stationery supplies, dictionaries, thesaurus, atlases, workbooks and more before her planned departure to Jamaica on April 18.

“Any money I raise will go towards shipping and seeing what I can help with when I get there,” she added.

“I will collect from Tunbridge Wells,” she promised. “I am in town a few times a week.”

Anyone who wants to help Lorna can contact her through Facebook at: 
Sunshine’s Crofts Hill Primary & Junior High School Donations
or by phone 07981 033 365

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