Woman uses yard as homework centre
On any given day, if one should visit 15 Ashoka Road in Waterhouse, St Andrew, they would find Mellissa Powell helping children with their homework or school projects.
"I love what I do and I always tell the children that some of Jamaica's finest come from out of the inner cities, but in order to do that they need a solid education. So I am helping them to achieve that," she said. Powell said that she has been assisting the community's children with their academics for 13 years but she made it a full-time job approximately five years ago.
"A few years ago, I was working and got a call that my daughter could not be found and when I told my boss I had to leave, he said if I chose to go through the door I should not come back and I went and never returned. This is what I have been doing since," she said.
The 32-year-old mother of three said she started helping students at her home shortly after her first daughter was born.
"When I was growing up, I never had anyone around me to guide me certain ways and ask me how was school and if I understand the day's lesson. I want every child to have that opportunity," she said. Powell's 'classroom' is nestled comfortably in her yard.
"I don't do their homework for them because they wouldn't be learning then. What I do is to take them one at a time and help them to understand the work that they are given. I also have online classes with a few as well and they are all responding well," she said. Though she has no formal training in teaching, she expands her knowledge by using the Internet.
"I used to help out with the kids' homework and then one parent ask mi if I woudn't do it for a small fee and then next thing I knew I had 28 children who I was teaching after school and on Saturday. I don't have a degree in teaching or anything but ... I challenged myself with online learning so I can challenge these kids," she said.
Currently, Powell said she is only catering to nine students as she is concerned about the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
"Even when some of the schools reopened recently, there were parents who still wanted their children to come by my house for teaching but I have to tell them that they should send them to their regular school instead," she said, adding that the greatest fulfilment isn't the money.
"I am able to contribute towards the future of these children. I am also learning in the process as well. This is one job that doesn't seem like a job to me."