To open Christel House Jamaica (CHJ) in 2020, public recruiting sessions were not possible due to COVID restrictions. So, the Jamaica team went into communities to meet students where they lived. Kerry Ann Thompson, CHJ lead social worker, says two things stood out to her: the community’s dilapidated housing and minimal access to education.
Thompson has ten years of experience working with at-risk children and adults and holds a degree in counseling and social work. When she heard Christel House was coming to Jamaica, she connected with the transformational mission. During home visits, Thompson saw firsthand the desperate situation of the families Christel House Jamaica serves. “We discovered that some children never had the experience of walking through the gates of a school, while some lacked the resources to attend school regularly.”
CHJ opened in October. Students are now in class, learning in-person. “Parents and students are excited for a school that caters to their unique needs without judgment,” says Thompson. She notes families are particularly excited about small class sizes and computer courses. “Parents have been singing praises about the positive changes seen in their children since starting school at Christel House, an indication we are on the right track in transforming lives.” Thompson applauds the community for their trust in Christel House Jamaica. “Navigating life through a pandemic has not been easy, but the steps and efforts made by parents in overcoming their fears of sending their child to a new school during COVID-19 are noteworthy,” she says. “They have the hope and desire to better the life of their child.”