|First year at Trimont College |
By GREGORY O’YOUNG Monday, July 25 2011
During the last days of the recently ended school term, I attended a meeting for parents of my ten- year-old son’s Port-of-Spain-based school, Trimont College which was on the verge of completing its first academic year.
The meeting was opened by the school’s principal Mr Herman Rodriguez, retired Managing Partner of a well known accounting firm. He spoke of the school’s genesis and its goals and objectives. Kenny Young, a member of the Management Committee, stressed the importance that Trimont accords to parents of its pupils through a tutorial system. By means of periodic interviews, the school allows individuals called tutors to maintain a regular link between family and school, setting targets for each student, the achievement of which redounds to the benefit of all, while listening to feedback from the parents on their child’s behaviour and aptitude for work.
During the meeting, Mr Philip Hamel-Smith of the school’s Planning and Development Committee, elaborated upon the overall educational plan that was conceived as Trimont’s mission some three years ago and which is to educate students from pre-kindergarten to pre-university. To achieve this, another school Arbor which commenced operations in September 2008, takes students from Pre-kindergarten to Prep 2, at which time, the boys transfer to Trimont College and the girls to Rosewood.
Trimont opened its doors in September 2010 and follows the Cambridge International Examinations syllabus (www.cie.org.uk). If the boys are desirous of furthering their studies in the United States at any time their education will be consistent with what is taught for completion of the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). The classes at the school are conducted with special emphasis on subject areas such as Mathematics, English Language and Grammar, Creative Writing, Comprehension, Science, Social Studies, Computer Science, Art, Spanish and Religion.
The aim is to have the boys taught bilingually with Spanish and English language teaching complementing each other. There is also Physical Education twice weekly with the Friday sessions dedicated to football at a nearby sports ground.
The teaching at Trimont is based on a teaching methodology, unique to all three schools, which is called the “Nine Learning Situations.” These situations are as follows: “integration” and centres of interest; well done work; pupil’s chores; neurodevelopment; knowledge bits; musical auditions; group work and corners; learning trips and self-evaluation.
This, in tangible terms, involves the teachers, under say, “pupil’s chores,” assigning a specific task for each pupil to perform every week. This can range from cleaning the board to ensuring that the class room is tidy. Under “knowledge bits” the boys are exposed to little snippets of information on a particular subject area, for example, musical instruments, and they are shown images of different types of instruments and how they are played.
In the learning situation described as “musical auditions” children may listen to a taped recording of a musical score for a few moments and are then provided with a brief explanation about this musical piece such as its origin and context. This helps develop their hearing, attention and concentration. In this way the culture of the boys is enhanced and an important aspect of their education – that the children be well-rounded and enjoy a holistic formation – is achieved.
In the school’s Parents’ Handbook emphasis is placed on precisely this aspect of the educational approach being employed at Trimont. The education is intended to be complete covering the dimensions of the spiritual, human, physical and professional.
In order to achieve this objective, an important aspect of the school, as Kenny Young explained in his introduction, was the tutorial system whereby each student is assigned a personal tutor, who meets with him and his parents to help formulate a study timetable, consider career objectives and pinpoint academic, personal and social strengths and weaknesses.
While the College is open to persons of all religions, a sound moral formation founded on the principles of natural law and Christian values is imparted with a respect for freedom and conscience. The spiritual activities are entrusted to the Prelature of Opus Dei.
At the conclusion of the meeting, it was impressed on all of us parents that our boys were a crucial part of a critical long-term educational project and, I would add, vision.
The plan really is that the children who graduate from Trimont be well-rounded, conceive of education as not merely being a way of passing examinations, be socially conscientious and aware, culturally refined and physically and spiritually healthy.
In this way the longest term vision would be that the graduates of Trimont College can help to change the society of which we form part and so immeasurably enhance the national quality of life not only in academic terms but beyond that into the realm of the moral and professional.
Trimont College is based on a school model that has been in practice for years in many places including the United States of America, Canada, Europe, South and Central America, Japan, Australia, and Africa.
Gregory O’Young is a part time PhD student at UWI