An inspirational teenager from the British Virgin Islands has started her own school after hers was closed due to damage from Hurricane Irma.

My name is Jhadazia Lennard and I’m 13 years old. I live on the North Sound of Virgin Gorda, the British Virgin Islands’ third-largest island and one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Irma. Virgin Gorda was completely devastated by Irma in September and the schools here have been severely damaged – some of them have closed, including mine. As a result, the pupils have nothing to do and nobody to teach them, and it looks as though it might stay that way for a long time while the buildings are repaired.

FIRST CLASS: Jhadazia has created tailored worksheets for her students.

I wanted to do something about this because I’m a bit of an education freak and I don’t like to be away from school for too long! It’s always been my dream to be a teacher too, so I decided to take it upon myself to start up a school for the kids in my community. So that’s what I did. Now every night I stay up late with a flashlight and write lesson plans and worksheets for them. In today’s lesson, for example, they’ll be learning about the solar system. Then they’ll play, and I’ll give them treats. After that I’ll give them some sheets to fill in about nouns, verbs and adjectives. The most challenging part for me is that the children are of all different ages and grades, so I have to create different worksheets for each person. The first time my school opened I was very anxious, but after a couple of days I settled down as more and more children began to arrive. Now I have approximately 10 students. 

I love to see them educated and I don’t want them to be out on the streets because if you stay away from school for a long time, you forget things. Also, education brings a community together. My advice for anyone would be to help children from their community and do what I’ve done: Get them together and do some school work! The motto at my school is “We will rise again.” I hope one day I’ll become a bigger and better teacher, in the name of the Lord. —  As told to Tony Greenway


Help rebuilding efforts in the British Virgin Islands by supporting
Adopt a Roof, a charity committed to helping get roofs back on people’s houses.

Published: January 2018

Image: private