Camille’s Academy to introduce new skills/mental health programme in new school term

Guyana Chronicle

12/4/20222 min read

IN pursuing a “balanced approach” to education, Camille’s Academy Inc is gearing up to introduce its Life Skills and Mental Health Training Programme, targeting Grades Seven to 11, when the new school term begins in January.

Proprietor Camille Deokie Gorakh is adamant that academics alone will not cut it for her children and based on feedback the school received from the business community, she is now even surer that certain intrinsic skills and qualities must be taught in concert with the academic side of things.

As such, earlier this year, the school sought to strengthen its team capacity with training as it prepared itself to be the first school in Guyana to introduce the internationally recognised programme in life skills, mental health and well-being.

“Academics are important, but our school always advocates for a balanced approach to education,” Camille shared in an interview with Pepperpot Magazine, adding, “This is one of the many programmes which make us a leader in the education sector. How do we prepare our students for the rapidly changing future without data on these fundamental life skills? Our 2023 new year’s resolution is to continue to promote happy, healthy children with good moral values and ethics to contribute meaningfully to society.”

The 12 skills that have been identified as the most needed are: creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, cooperation, negotiation, decision-making, self-management, resilience, communication, respect for diversity, empathy and participation.

“What I’ve realised over the years… yes, we produce a lot of kids, build them academically, but they’re not well rounded. What we have found as they go out, some basic skills are lacking and we realised that there’s so much more work that we need to get done to help them adapt to the working environment and build resilience,” Camille shared.
For one thing, she observed that it’s necessary for them to have the mental stamina to cope with the world of work. Based on feedback from workplaces, however, she said some students quit as soon as they are under a little pressure.

“We realised that giving them the 10-15 CXCs is not enough; there are so much more intrinsic qualities that we need to build in them. It’s a number of years now we have been watching and we realised that there’s a lot more we need to do as a school,” Camille added.

Coming out of COVID, she said a lot of work had to be done to get the kids to adapt to the new norm. “Building their mental stamina was our number one priority as they returned to school. So it’s not just pushing a curriculum; there’s quite a lot of work we had to do to get them to adjust.”
So far, her school has trained 20 staff members as mentors and has most recently sent another eight for training. These individuals were trained to handle the students, conduct assessments, and read and evaluate the results.

Meanwhile, in a previous interview, Camille had called on parents to continue to instill good morals, values and discipline in their children, so that they can be good citizens of society. “We are their first teachers. Schools and organisations are just there to enforce what you have already built, so you have to lay that foundation and always understand that parenting is [a] work in progress; every day you learn something new,” she stated.