Feature
Principal of the Carl Rattray Staff College, in St. Ann, Ms. Christall Byfield.
Photo: Nickieta Sterling

Christall Byfield is a very dynamic individual who sets very high standards of achievement for herself.

The 30 year-old educator has created history by being the youngest person to be appointed Principal at the St. Ann based Carl Rattray Staff College, where she is tasked with guiding the training and development of the country’s Correctional Officers.

Interestingly, Ms. Byfield, who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the Mico University College, is the second female principal to serve the correctional training institution.

She is also the first person from outside the ranks of the Department of Correctional Services to head the college since its inception in the 1970s.

Ms. Byfield credits her tenacious spirit and strong belief in God as the driving forces behind her career successes date.

“I have had a very victorious life in the Lord. God has a very important place in my life. I look to God for his leadership principles. At each step of my journey, I have had various successes and each of them would have come together to keep me accomplishing,” she tells JIS News.

The educator, who hails from Ocho Rios, St. Ann, began her teaching career at Parry Town Primary in Ocho Rios, where she spent 10 months as a classroom teacher.

Ms. Byfield then moved on to become a Literacy Specialist, working alongside teachers within primary schools in St. Ann to improve the literacy performance of students.

Principal of the Carl Rattray Staff College in Runaway Bay, St. Ann, Christall Byfield (second left), develops NCTVET qualification standards for the training institution for Correctional Officers with staff members (from left): Superintendent Leslie Campbell; Overseer, Noel Beckford; Overseer, Selvin Jones and Superintendent Albert D. Brown.

Her outstanding track record as a literacy specialist caught the attention of the Principal and Board of Ferncourt High School in Claremont, St. Ann, where she was tasked with improving the literacy standard at the institution.

“Ferncourt High was having some issues with their Language performance and I was asked to go and join that team [Ferncourt High] to assist with intervention to allow them to get to that point of the national standard. I took up that challenge,” she says.

A past student of  St. Hilda’s High school for girls in Brown’s Town, St. Ann, Ms. Byfield notes that her passion for impacting lives and imparting knowledge to those around her led to her forging a career in the field of education, following in her mother’s footstep.

“I remember persons normally would say the brightest crayons in the box don’t normally go into education… and I would say, so then ‘who will teach our students’? That was the motto of my mom and that became my motto as well. So, that is the reason I went into the field of education. I believe that we are the ones who make doctors, we are the ones who make every other profession. So, I believe the most brilliant persons should become teachers,” she tells JIS News.

At the helm of the correctional training institution for just one year, Ms. Byfield plans to ensure that all those who enter the institution will leave equipped and ready for service at the island’s penal institutions.

Ms. Byfield says she takes an inclusive approach in the execution of her duties at the Carl Rattray Staff College, noting that she strives to build on the standards that have been set by her predecessors.

“It is bringing together youthful exuberance and the experience that would have been on the ground and making it work. So, understanding that, it has truly taught me to appreciate the work that was done before my time… and now taking it [the college] from where it is now to where it is supposed to be,” she shares.

Ms. Byfield says her aim is to transform the college into an international centre of excellence for correctional officers. She hopes to achieve this through strategic planning, attracting the right persons to carry out set objectives and drawing on the expertise of other leaders through networking.

She adds that she is a believer in mantras and uses them to guide her decisions, holding true to her favourite: ‘To whom much is given much is required’.

The Carl Rattray College has become the oasis for the Department of Correctional Services.

It has evolved from merely providing for new entrants, to facilitating continuous training programmes designed to improve and enhance the skill sets of all members of the correctional service.