Jonathan Saunders is top Region Four Special Needs student

From left are Annesia Woolford-Saunders, Jonathan Saunders and Region Four Special Needs Officer Simone Abrams. (Region Four photo)

Ten-year-old Jonathan Saunders was recently announced as the top student for Region Four from the list of Special Needs children who sat the 2018 NGSA exams, according to a release from Region Four.

The St Paul’s Primary student and aspiring economist has earned a spot at Plaisance Secondary after scoring 400 marks. Mother of the child Annesia Woolford-Saunders said that she remains confident that her son has a solid mind in terms of his capacity to perform very well. “I know that he has a great memory because as long as he is taught something he remembers it,” she said.

She disclosed when she was delivering him she encountered pregnancy challenges. According to the release the mother disclosed that one of those challenges has resulted in him taking a very long time to speak and walk. This, she noted has resulted in him being unable to write as fast as other learners, adding that he is also unable to pronounce some words.

The Plaisance secondary teacher said that when her son started his educational pursuits he was at the Green Acres school but owing to a number of challenges she and her husband were forced to remove him sending him to another private school. She said that moving him to another private school resulted in a lackadaisical approach to her son’s education and it was only those teachers who knew her and the challenges that she was facing who sought to lend a helping hand in terms of ensuring that the quality of education that he received was of high quality.

“We …eventually moved him to the public school as most of the work that they taught him at the private school was colouring. It was as though he was specialising in colouring and therefore, we recognised that we had to move him, and we did to a public school,” she said.

Woolford–Saunders said that had the school provided her son with a scribe and a reader he would have excelled at the exams. “Jonathan is a very alert, intelligent and focused child, however because of how his brain works and the fact that he is slow in communicating his thoughts into writing, he certainly would have been at a disadvantage,” she said. The mother of one said that she is excited and pleased that he was able to pass and promised that she will continue working with him.

“I must say that I am exceptionally proud of my son and his performance and will seek to continue providing the relevant support for him to do well,” Woolford–Saunders said.

She added that one of the critical challenges relates to the stigma and discrimination her son faced. She said that while the children at his school didn’t care about his disability as they were all open and loving towards him, a teacher at the Grade six level declined to have Jonathan in his class because she claimed that she was not comfortable working with him.

She however noted that after the teacher’s refusal to work with her son, another teacher offered to work with him thus resulting in him being given an opportunity to write the Grade Six exams. “After the teacher refused to have him in her class another teacher stepped forward and worked with Jonathan and I am grateful for that. I would like to see more training for the Special Education Needs as while NCERD (National Centre for Educational Resource Development) does a number of short programmes, I firmly believe that the training should be longer so as to ensure that the teachers working with special needs children better understand their roles,” she opined.

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