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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, presents the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Education to retired Westmoreland educator, Theresa Lindo, during the ceremony held at Jamaica House in September.

Retired Westmoreland educator Theresa Lindo says she always wanted to be a teacher.

“Ever since I was a child, I knew. My principal and his wife, Desmond and May Gascoine, they were my influences. I used to come home from school, line out kerosene tins and play school. I was always the teacher,” she tells JIS News.

Pursuing her dreams after high school, Ms. Lindo, who hails from the fishing town of Whitehouse, went straight into pre-trained teaching at Brompton Primary. She then went to King’s Primary for a year before attending the Church Teachers’ College in Manchester.

“After college, I worked at Lacovia Secondary for a year for my internship, then I joined the staff at Savanna-la-Mar Junior and Secondary School on April 1,1974. That school is now Godfrey Stewart High,” she points out.

Retiring in 2012 after more than 40 years of service to education, Ms. Lindo says the most fulfilling aspect of her job is knowing that she played a role in shaping thousands of lives.

Her voice swelling with pride while talking about her years of service, she tells JIS News: “I believe I made a difference for many students, my staff and parents, as well as the wider community.”

Ms. Lindo, who retired as Vice Principal at Godfrey Stewart High School, says during her years in the education system, the only position she did not occupy was that of guidance counsellor.

“I taught reading, English language and literature and started as a regular classroom teacher. I worked myself up from teacher, grade supervisor, house leader, grade coordinator, vice principal to acting principal. I would even go to the canteen and supervise the lunch line… I did basically everything,” she says.

The retired educator, who has an effortless warmth, cared about her students’ welfare and notes there were some pupils for which she would reserve lunch tickets to ensure that they had a meal.

“It’s just little things really that I would regard as my great moments,” she tells JIS News.

“When I see my students and they remember who I am and remember what I’ve done for them [I feel good]. I would be sitting down in the airport, and I only hear ‘Ms. Lindo!’ I’m in a store: ‘Ms. Yuh did teach mi yuh nuh?’ Another will say ‘Mama, Mama, see mi vice principal here!’,” she relates.

“Those are real crowning moments because I know that they believe that I have done a lot for them,” she expresses.

Friend and former colleague, Dawnette Lyons Gordon, who has known Ms. Lindo for almost as many years as she has been in the classroom, describes her as having an “eagle eye” with a meticulous approach to her job. “Punctuality was and still is her hallmark. She has never been late for work although she lives miles away from school. An excellent language teacher, she has given over 40 years of hard work and was a beacon to the Godfrey Stewart High School family,” she says. Ms. Lindo, who is the President of the Retired Teachers’ Association in Westmoreland, is also a recipient of the 2022 Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Education.

“When someone from the Prime Minister’s office called me, at first, I was wondering if is romp she romping with me,” she relates to JIS News.

“But I took it in, and I am really grateful and honoured and I feel very special and overwhelmed for the most part. Sometimes, I look at the medal and wonder if it’s really mine and then I look at the back and see T.A. Lindo and realise, yes, it really is,” she laughs.

Though a decade into her retirement, Ms. Lindo still keeps up-to-date with what is happening in the education system.

“I would really like to see focus placed on getting our students to understand things more, rather than just gobbling up the material. There is a place for getting our students to do practical things,” she says, noting that students must be prepared for the world.

Ms. Lindo continues to serve her community through the Westmoreland Retired Teachers’ Association, which has an annual outreach programme for the Savanna-la-Mar Infirmary.

“As retired teachers, we put together our resources. I would call the matron and ask her what their greatest needs at this time are. She would say ‘Ms. Lindo we need sanitisers, disinfectant… everything’. Then every February we take the items to them. We were out in 2020, but we went back this year with many things,” she says. A devout Anglican and loving grandmother to Leanne and Tyler, Ms. Lindo remains active in her church while still providing advice to schools.

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