H.O. Nash: A picture of Success
Years ago, the staff at H.O. Nash Junior High School decided to erect a board in a heavily trafficked area of their Dolphin Drive campus, featuring photos of students who performed exceedingly well on the national exams.
That decision would be the catalyst for an informal competition between students that eventually helped to improve the school’s performance in the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) examinations.
In five of the last six years, an H.O. Nash Junior High School student has outscored students across the country in the Bahamas Junior Certificate examinations, according to school principal Cheryl Samuels. Last year, two H.O. Nash students tied for the top honor.
“That board is a big motivator,” Samuels said. “At the end of the year we have a ceremony to honor the students on that board. They have to have five As to get on the board. Everyone wants to get up there.”
Samuels said BTC, which sponsors the school, awards the honorees with electronics, including tablets and phones.
But Samuels said while the board is a huge factor in the school’s winning formula, it’s not the sole reason behind H.O. Nash’s success. She said increased parent involvement, coupled with dedicated teachers have also contributed to the school’s success.
H. O. Nash has recorded multiple improvements over the years. But this year, Samuels said, has been a banner year.
“Last year we had 41 students who had eight or more BJCs,” she said.
“This year we have 69.
“Last year we had 10 students that had 10 or more subjects. This year we have 27.
“We’ve been seeing improvements all around for the past several years.”
In several subjects, the school saw a 100 percent pass rate.
“We had 100 percent passes in technical drawing and art,” Samuels said.
“It was 99 percent In literature, 98 percent in Spanish.”
In the tougher subjects, like mathematics and science, Samuels said the school recorded serious improvements as well.
“In general science, students that got grades As to Cs moved from 58 percent to 73 percent,” she said.
“And if we’re talking from A to D, that went to 91.5 percent. So, we’ve had movement in our science area. In math, we are at 57.68 percent. That is coming from 45.69. So, we’re concentrating on those areas.”
So, what’s the secret? According to Samuels, more commitment on all levels.
“I think I’m mostly blessed because I have really, really committed teachers who are always prepared to work hard,” she said. “A lot of it has to do with our planning. Every year we look at our results and every department has to speak to their results and say what they are going to do to improve them. We set a target.
“They say what they want to do and I ask them what they need, and once they tell me what they need, I supply it.
“Then you don’t have any excuses. You have to produce.
“Sometimes what we do is if we need to change a person who is at the top or sometimes we need to have the administration get together and come up with ideas and see how we can help that failing department.”
“But the teachers are very competitive. Last year in my family consumer science class, only 37.4 percent of the class achieved an A to C, and this year it was 80.39 percent. They have come a very long way.”
She continued, “The teachers have put the school on their backs. We do a lot of extra classes. On Saturday we have about 200 children doing classes and these classes are free.”
Samuels said after-school classes are also offered.
As it relates to subjects that require coursework, Samuels said the teachers ensure that students get that out of the way during the first term of ninth grade.
Samuels added that parent involvement has also improved greatly, which has also positively impacted school attendance rates.
“I also have a study program that we run,” she said. “The parents take over the study program from 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Students come in and they study.”
The Ministry of Education released the overall BJC results earlier this month.
According to the data, fewer students sat the exams this year (11,827 students this year, compared to the 12,125 in 2017).
There were improvements in seven subjects, including English language, general science, social studies, literature, Spanish, craft study and health science, according to the ministry.
One thousand six hundred students earned a minimum grade of C or above in five or more subjects, an increase of nearly eight percent over the 1,484 students who achieved this in 2017. There was also a slight increase in the number of students who earned at least a D grade in five or more subjects – from 2,269 in 2017 to 2,319 in 2018.
Additionally, there was a 17 percent increase in the number of students who achieved at least a C grade in the core subjects – 1,326 students in 2017 compared to 1,552 students this year.
More boys achieved grades A through D when compared to 2017 and fewer boys earned grades F through U. Similarly, more girls earned grades A through C and fewer girls were awarded grades E through U.