The lively evening celebrated the completion of Rockhouse Foundation’s most ambitious project to date – Savanna-la-Mar Inclusive Infant Academy (SIIA) – the first project that the foundation has designed, developed and built from the ground up. SIIA is an inclusion model mixed-ability school for both regular learners and students with special needs. Unprecedented in Jamaica, the school will cater not only to the severely marginalized population of special needs children and their families, but also regular leaners, and will also serve as a training center, guiding assessment and therapy for families and teachers in the West End region. The school proudly opened its doors for the academic year in Septermber 2017 to 30 three-year olds, with full enrollment of over 100 three to five-year olds expected for the 2019-2020 school year. Consistent with all its school partnerships, the foundation will underwrite and maintain the facilities with the Ministry of Education providing the staff to operate the programs.
Highlights of the foundation’s benefit included a rowdy live auction and Jamaican-inspired, collaborative dinner created by Miss Lily’s Chef and Food Network’s Caribbean "Chopped" Champion, Jamiaca’s own Andre Fowles, along with Chef Andrew Carmellini's Kitchen at Joe's Pub & The Library. The evening culminated with a live performance by the legendary architects of reggae, Toots and the Maytals, whose lead singer, Toots Hibbert was named by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest singers of all time. Additionally, the band performed a late-night acoustic set – a ticketed event supporting Rockhouse Foundation that sold out in a matter of days.
Approximately 190 guests came out to support Rockhouse Foundation including the Honorable Reverand Ronald Thwaites, Shadow Minister of Education in Jamaica, Trisha Williams-Singh, Chair of the Jamaican Early Childhood Commission and Trudy Deans the Jamaica Consul General to New York. Other notable attendees included ‘Mad Men’ star John Slattery, his co-star and wife Talia Balsam, andChris Blackwell, Island Records founder and entrepreneur.
The quarter million dollars raised at this year’s benefit will enable the Foundation to complete and further refine Savanna-la-Mar Inclusive Infant Academy, and build new classrooms at the adjoining Sir Clifford Campbell Primary School (where children are currently having lessons in outdoor tents) – as well as ongoing support and maintenance for the foundation’s other primary and early childhood projects: Moreland Hill Primary and Pre-K School, Little Bay All-Age and Pre-K School and Bunch of Stars Early Childhood School and the Negril Public Library.
The annual benefit capped off an extraordinary month for the Rockhouse Foundation. In October Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness awarded Peter Rose, President of Rockhouse Foundation, the ‘Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service’ in recognition of the organization’s outstanding contribution to education and its commitment to community service over the past 13 years. Mr. Rose was decorated in a ceremony at King's House, the official residence of the Governor-General of Jamaica, who represents the British Monarchy and head of state.