15 Feb 2011
Sharon Donaldson FCCA of Richmond Academy shares her inspiration behind opening Jamaica's first-ever Approved Learning Partner - student tuition (ALP-st)
On why she established Richmond Academy:
Having decided to pursue the ACCA qualification, I looked around for a learning provider - but I soon realised that the institutions and lecturers offering tuition didn't match my needs.
I was in search of a tuition provider with strong student relations, where the tone of the classroom encouraged communication among students and created a real sense of camaraderie and community.
I vowed then that as, soon as I completed my ACCA journey, I would teach because I knew that I could offer a learning experience that I myself had desperately wanted to the new generation of students. This, I would say, is the origin of my passion and reason for continuing to teach ACCA/CAT students.
On what drove her to attaining ALP-Gold status:
On the Richmond Academy board we all share the same vision - to distinguish ourselves, to offer an enjoyable learning experience to students and to provide an opportunity for those who passed through our doors to build relationships that could be beneficial in their professional lives. We want to be viewed as an institution that promotes professionalism, good work ethics and hopefully creates a strong bond among all stakeholders - students, lecturers and administrative staff.
Having been approached by ACCA representatives to consider ALP-st Gold status, we recognised that the requirements would definitely provide the most appropriate platform to achieve our ultimate vision.
The journey was very challenging and at many times I had to remind myself of my father always saying to me: 'If you start something, however long it takes, there is no greater joy than seeing it to the end.'
So we continued with the encouragement of Paula Marcelle-Irish, manager, ACCA Northern Caribbean. I convinced the board of directors that the ALP status was the way to go. Once the decision was made, we realised that we would need to adopt a new philosophy that would not only impact our administration and our delivery standards but would also define our relationship with our students.
Once the commitment was given, we ensured that adequate resources were provided to get the task done. Attainment of the ALP Gold status is a major milestone for us and we feel a great sense of pride - we are extremely motivated to move to the next rung on the ladder of achievement.
Richmond Academy currently has 170 ACCA students and 70 CAT students. We offer tuition in every CAT paper and almost all ACCA papers.
On her future plans for Richmond Academy:
We are ambitious at Richmond Academy. Some of our plans include a fast track programme for university degree students, an ACCA and CAT day school and combined programmes such as accounting (ACCA) and law.
On her plans for supporting students through their ACCA studies:
In addition to the tuition support we provide for our students, we publish a newsletter twice a year that provides information relevant to their professional lives. We also have seminars for students with some relevant and interesting speakers from the business community. Additionally, we have held some informal social gatherings in the hope that this would provide an opportunity for students to raise issues in a more relaxed environment.