Hampton Principal Dedicates Life to the Classroom

Photo: Marlon Tingling Principal of Hampton School, in Malvern, St. Elizabeth, Mrs. Heather Murray (left), with her Vice Principals, Rose-Ann Loundes (centre) and Sandra Bryan Lorde.

Story Highlights

  • Mrs. Murray has been at the helm of the institution, located in the cool hills of Malvern, St. Elizabeth, since 2004, but her entire adult life has been dedicated to the teaching profession, covering primary and secondary schools, and being Principal for some 25 years at a number of institutions.
  • A former Lasco Principal of the Year, an award she won in 2014, Mrs. Murray remains upbeat about the education system, and points out that her passion for the girls at Hampton to succeed is burning even brighter.
  • Although the job of being Principal is very demanding, Mrs. Murray still finds a little time to do gardening, travel and explore Jamaica.

Mentor, mother, friend and counsellor are just some of the names aptly used to describe  Principal of the Hampton School for Girls, Heather Murray.

Mrs. Murray has been at the helm of the institution, located in the cool hills of Malvern, St. Elizabeth,  since 2004, but her entire adult life has been dedicated to the teaching profession, covering  primary and secondary schools,  and being Principal for some 25 years at a number of institutions.

“Heather Murray loves the Lord. Heather Murray loves living. So, I work with the Lord and then I believe in living life to the fullest. I take that by extension to education. I believe the students should enjoy learning. It should be fun. It is something that you do because you want to do it, not because you are forced to do it,” Mrs. Murray tells JIS News in an interview.

Standing almost six feet tall, this very elegant daughter of a teacher, who grew up next door to a school in her St. Elizabeth community  of  Bull Savanna, saw her entry into the classroom as a natural path.

“My mother was a teacher. We lived next door to the school where I was born right here in (Bull Savanna), St. Elizabeth. We learnt our ABC’s on the steps of the classrooms…five, six, seven  days of the week and from Bull Savanna Primary, my mother went to teach at Lititz Primary School…so I passed Common Entrance from the Lititz Primary School to Hampton,” she says.

After successfully completing her student studies at Hampton, Mrs. Murray went on to the Church Teachers’ College, in Manchester; the University of the West Indies and  then Central Connecticut State University, in the United States.

The Principal  says  that on her  career path  in the teaching profession she has been influenced  by several  excellent Educators, including her  first  Principal at Hampton School, the late Gloria Cathleen Wesley Gammon;  Jasmine McCalla at Junction Secondary;  Mr. Lloyd Whinstanley at Herbert Morrison Technical; and Mrs. Mabel East of Holly Hill Primary, in Westmoreland.

Mrs. Murray  says  to lead a school with 1,256 girls, an academic staff of  68 and other  workers  demands that all hands are on deck, adding that she has been fortunate to be able to draw on the talent, skill and support of all her staff members, particularly her Administrative Assistant, Penelope Green Daley,  and her two Vice Principals, Rose-Ann Loundes and Sandra Bryan Lorde.

Even after serving the profession for over 30  years,  the Principal has no plans to slow down or quit.

“Once you are a teacher, you are a teacher for life. It’s in your blood and even if you are retired, you continue serving. I have known of a case where a teacher who had retired,  and at age 90 taught a boy who was unable to read and that boy ended up being the Head Boy, passing 8 subjects. You never ever give up on a child…he or she is your child for life,” she tells JIS News.

She adds that she is a believer in mantras and she uses some of them to guide the young  girls at Hampton.

“I say to them: ‘Hampton ladies are leaders of the finest ilk’ and ‘prior preparation prevents poor performance’.  I don’t care how good you are…when you prepare, you are going to be better and without realizing it, you internalize this concept and build your life around it,” Mrs. Murray  says.

A former Lasco Principal of the Year, an award she won in 2014, Mrs. Murray remains upbeat about the education system,  and points out that her passion for the girls at  Hampton to succeed is burning even brighter.

“This year I am very, very pleased to say that of the cohort of ladies graduating in grade 11,  57 percent  of them are graduating with an above 75 percent  average. At Hampton, I think my highest point was last year, when we started off with a 45 per cent  pass rate in Math and we moved that up with the cohort of ladies who graduated. We had a 92 percent  pass rate in Mathematics and a 98 percent and a 99 percent  in (English) Language and Literature, respectively,” she notes.

Mrs.  Murray says although the teaching profession is sometimes seen as an unthankful career, it remains very attractive and is still one of the most sought after careers,  not only in Jamaica, but the world.

“It’s a noble profession. It is satisfying, it’s therapeutic. You do not get thanked all the time, but there is a satisfaction that takes you throughout life. It brings you  joy…It’s not so much for the money you get, but for the rewards that you get from teaching,” she tells JIS News.

Although the job of being Principal is very demanding, Mrs. Murray still finds a little time to do gardening, travel and explore Jamaica.

Hampton, founded in 1858,  is one of the oldest boarding schools for girls in Jamaica, and with their motto: Suma Virtute Et Humanitate (With Utmost Courage and Courtesy), the young  girls at the institution are determined to maintain  the great tradition of excellence.

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