Santana Morris giving children hope through reading
A woman who struggled to speak during her early years, and was often overlooked and ridiculed in primary school because she could hardly express herself, is seeking to help young Jamaicans read.
Santana Morris, 26, has founded the Jamaica Intensive Reading Clinic, which is an all-island summer reading camp that is in its second year.
More than 300 trained teachers have reportedly signed up to be part of the second staging of the camp, which is slated for July 24 to 28.
"Last year, we had more than 100 teachers; and we advertised for 250 on Facebook this year and we got over 300 in three days," said Morris, who is also the executive director. "Because of the success last year, I think a lot people are coming on board now."
She said that the objective is to eradicate the low literacy rate in Jamaica by strategically teaching students to master the art of reading.
Morris said that she was inspired to start the programme because of the struggles she endured with reading during her childhood.
"I wasn't able to speak until the age of four and a lot of persons thought that I was going to be dumb; and when I tried to talk, everybody used to find it funny," Morris explained.
"Even in my class, every time the teacher tried to ask a question I always raised my hand and the entire class would just laugh, and it lowered my self-esteem."
She said that her mother took umbrage to persons ridiculing her only child and prayed tireless for a miracle.
"A miracle happened. One day, I started to utter a few words, but I still was not able to pronounce the words properly because I missed out on the prerequisite for reading, and my mother spent every night helping me to master pronunciation," she said.
But even with her mother's efforts, Morris wasn't reading at the required level and her mother sought help from a teacher who specialised in helping slow learners.
"She looked at me and said, students like these they never make it far, and my mother cried," Morris recalled. "She started to teach me by herself and I improved and was able to pass GSAT for my first choice [of school]."
Morris said that she wanted to give students who aren't reading at the required level the same opportunity her mom gave her.