Mar-Jam Preparatory School is a registered independent co-educational day institution which has been in existence since 1992. It was born out of a need for good quality education in the St. Ann and St. Mary region. The school offers students of all nationalities an education at the Kindergarten and Preparatory level. The school also houses a Special Education Unit which caters to students with learning disabilities and a Resource Room which assists student who are having difficulty coping with specific areas of the Language Arts curriculum. The school is governed by a Board of Management and is recognized by the Ministry of Education.
The school is located on a leased two-acre property in Ocho Rios; St. Ann. The school boasts a wide variety of rich academic and fine arts courses. It has maintained its strength, integrity, credibility and its position as one of the top preparatory schools in St. Ann through its dedicated members of staff and committed administrative team.
The school currently has approximately two hundred and thirty (230) students on roll, twenty-two (22) full time and two (2) part-time members on the teaching staff, one (1) clerical staff and a maintenance staff of three (3).
Mar-Jam’s enrolment is based on its reputation for quality service and convenient location. The clientele and professional teaching staff are resources of the geographic area.
The school has grown considerably since it opened its doors in 1992 with only forty (40) students and four (4) teachers. The students have excelled academically earning four scholarships and culturally earning several gold, silver and bronze medals in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Festival Competitions for music, speech and dance. The school has also done well in the sports arena. It has been awarded the championship title of the Inter-Prep School Competitions in St. Ann and several students have been successful in mini-tennis, lawn tennis and swimming.
The mission of Mar-Jam Preparatory School is to meet the needs of the community by providing an education that is based on current national and international educational practices for children ages three to twelve years. Our objectives are:
- To provide comprehensive training in a supportive and caring environment.
- To enhance the attainment of educational excellence.
- To encourage the holistic development of each student.
- To maintain the highest standards in professional and ethical practices.
As a team (parents, students and staff) we aim to build and nurture a happy, goal- oriented, high-energy team that recognizes creative actions and realizes individual aspirations.
Mar-Jam was established in 1992 by Heather Maragh and Annette James.
Annette James, a teacher and Clinical Specialist working with The School of Hope, on Golding Avenue in Kingston had relocated to St. Ann after getting married in 1988. After having her first child she also started looking around for suitable schools to place her child in, but none could be found. While working at Glory Be, she met Heather Maragh and it was here that the idea of starting their own school came to the forefront.
Heather Maragh, a business woman from Ocho Rios had a son at school where he did not feel comfortable for various reasons. So she desperately wished to find a school which would enhance her child's potential rather than suppress it.
With assistance from Mr. Owen Flimn and Dr. Michael James, they pooled their resources and secured the existing facility, putting in the necessary infrastructure that was affordable. What they could not afford to buy, they took from their homes. After much hard work and sacrifice they were able to open the doors to their first batch of students on September 6, 1992. Thus Mar-Jam Prep. was born. Since then, they have made remarkable strides.
The school started with 42 students of varying academic levels and four teachers, Mrs. James and three assistants. The thought and vision had become a reality. The vision of a school to provide a secure environment where each child is provided with experiences that will help develop his/her full potential, a programme designed to meet the needs of the individual since every child develops at a different rate physically, mentally, socially, spiritually and emotionally and a school where each child is encouraged to recognize his/her individuality while maintaining consideration for others.
Other Important dates in Mar-Jam History:
1993 - Their first Barbecue was an evening affair and it was held in May 1993 at the Carib Inn Ocho Rios. It commenced at 7 p.m. with Guest artist was Karen Smith. It was successful. In June 1996 the annual school barbecue was transferred to the Shaw Park Hotel grounds and it became a fun day on Sunday starting at 12 noon.
1995 - In the summer of 1995 the new Kindergarten class room was built and furnished. They also purchased and installed computers. Computer lessons started in October of 1995.
In September 1995 Mar-Jam also attempted to open a Junior High School at 10 Milford Road, with 4 students and 3 teachers. 2 part time I full time. The Junior High did not receive enough support was later relocated to 90 Main Street in April 1997, where it was eventually discontinued due to lack of support. Unfortunately, parents must now travel great distances and sacrifice time and effort in the attempt to provide their children with education of an acceptable standard, after graduating from our school. Some of our graduated students now must travel hours to and from their high school. The dream to someday provide Ocho Rios with a High School of the same standards as Mar-Jam Preparatory School is still alive.
1996 - The P. T .A. assisted the school in purchasing a photo copier.
1997 - The first walkathon was held on Saturday, February 22, 1997. A sum of JA$13,0000.00 was collected on the walk.
1998 - The Scholastic Book programme was started in 1998 by a parent and then President of the P. T .A. Mrs. Judith Denton. This programme is one in which teachers and parents are able to purchase good educational children's books at very reasonable rates. The school has also benefited from this programme as they have received an ample supply of books both for prize giving and for the school library when it becomes fully functional.
2001 - The school was able to become connected to the Internet, an important step in keeping abreast with strides in technology and attaining educational resources for students. ISP services were kindly donated by Anngel.com, arranged by Mr. Richard Chin, a parent. His wife Michelle, a web designer (95degrees.com), contributed the school's first web site in 2002.
Our Vision for the Future
As a team - Parents, Students, Teachers, Mar-Jam School, we aim to build and nurture a happy, goal- oriented, high-energy team that stimulates creative actions and the realization of individual aspirations.
Our vision for Mar-Jam entails the following:
- To become a centre of excellence in Ocho Rios.
- To construct a new facility to accommodate their staff and students comfortably. It will have a library, at least a 20-station computer lab, science lab, fine arts department, sporting facilities, auditorium, cafeteria, audio-visual room, staff lounge and administrative offices.
- To implement an active staff development programme to keep Mar-Jam on the cutting edge of educational practices.
- To further develop their swimming, tennis and other athletic teams.
- To develop a farm to help the school to become self-sufficient in a developing country of rising costs and limited resources.
- To start and develop an orchestra.
- To build boarding facilities for students.
Though we have come far from our humble beginnings, our vision for the future of Mar-Jam may seem almost unreachable at times. But we must remember, we could not have achieved what we already have without God by our side, he has truly blessed us. We would like to say thanks to parents, relatives, friends and well- wishers for their support and encouragement through the years and count on your support in the years to come.