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JIS News

Thirty-one educators who have dedicated a combined 450 years of service to the country’s education sector, were honoured yesterday (May 24), at a ceremony at Jamaica House, where they were presented with the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation. With scores of supportive family members and colleagues on hand to cheer them on, the awardees were recognised for their invaluable contribution, and presented with individual gold-plated medals engraved with the Coat-of-arms on the front and a torch on the reverse side.
Handing out the medals, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller praised the awardees for their commitment to furthering education for the young people of the country.
“I am pleased to be in the company of such a distinguished group of educators,” the Prime Minister remarked.
Continuing, Mrs. Simpson Miller said the recipients were “persons to whom we owe a great deal of gratitude for giving so much to the education system of our country, men and women who have given decades of their best years to our children and the future of Jamaica”.
Education and Youth Minister, Maxine Henry Wilson, in her address, noted that inasmuch as the awardees were being saluted, they were also being called on to ensure that they groomed successors.
Mrs. Henry Wilson challenged the awardees to “.build others who can take their place, that through mentorship and professional development they transmit to those who come after them, the salient values which have made them the very best”. Meanwhile, speaking to JIS News after the ceremony, a beaming Shirley Whylie said she felt both honoured and humbled being a recipient of the award.
“I feel very honoured that the Prime Minister would, out of the hundreds of teachers, see it fit to choose me and bestow this award on me.so I am really excited and pleased but feel a little humbled,” Miss Whylie said.
The educator, who was the founding Principal of the Portmore Community College, said it was her wish that members of the teaching profession would continue to render service to the country, as they played a very important role.
On the issue of the Government’s recently announced move to make certificate-granting teacher colleges issue degrees instead, and also extend the time of study from three to four years, the retired Miss Whylie told JIS News that she fully endorsed this initiative.
“I applaud it 100 per cent, because the teacher would then be more qualified.the extra year or two to get a degree would mean the teacher is more qualified, more confident, more aware of what is required,” she said.
Yvonne Lawrence, who has retired after serving some 39 years as a classroom teacher and Vice Principal at the Petersfield Primary School in Westmoreland, told JIS News that while she did not work towards being honoured, “reward sweetens labour and I feel real good that some persons have recognised my work and my worth”.
State Minister in the Education and Youth Ministry, Senator Noel Monteith, explained that the awards ceremony, which was celebrating its second year, was intended “to acknowledge those of the teaching profession who have, throughout their careers, maintained the highest professional standards and contributed significantly to the sector and our children, despite the challenges they may face from time to time”. The awardees were entertained by performances from students of the Pembroke Hall Primary School and St. Jago High School, as well as a stirring rendition of the gospel song, ‘Alabaster Box’, by Charlemont High School student, Lenya Wilks.