KINGSTON — Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Audrey Sewell, has commended the pivotal role played by educators in developing the emotionally intelligent, articulate and productive citizens needed for national development.
"The teaching profession is more than a job. It is a calling: Teachers have the duty to impart knowledge and to nurture and awaken the minds of young people and adults, through a lifelong learning process," she said.
She was speaking at the Lasco/Ministry of Education Teacher and Principal of the Year Awards 2011/12, held Tuesday (November 29), at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel, New Kingston.
She said that an effective school is dependent upon the quality of leadership provided by the principals, and the support given by the teachers.
"The principal must possess special skills, talents and abilities to articulate a clear, shared vision for the school community unite the staff and facilitate the mission statement and vision for the school," she said.
Mrs. Sewell added that the Ministry values the dedication, team spirit and the work ethic of the nominees, who have demonstrated a commitment to education and are deserving of the honour bestowed on them.
"I congratulate each and every one of you, for displaying the qualities which have clearly identified you for being a cut above the rest," she stated.
She lauded Lasco, on behalf of the Ministry, for supporting teachers, and its insistence over the years on supporting social developments.
"As we acknowledge the profound responsibility of our teachers and principals, the Education Ministry understands the challenges they face, and lauds the nominees for the tasks they undertake on a daily basis, and remains committed to providing the policy framework and institutional support necessary to ensure their success,” Mrs. Sewell said.
She said that the Ministry’s belief in the teachers, led to the establishment of the Jamaica Teaching Council to regulate, license and advocate for the profession, while providing strategic direction on professional development.
Executive Chairman of Lasco Affiliated Companies, Lascelles Chin, said education must not result in only academic success.
"It must, in a proactive way, spawn personal development and national development. Educators, if this is not happening as a result of the schooling, in which you are engaged, then we are missing the boat as a country,” he said
He also noted that teachers are an important bridge between parents and children, and so what affects classroom life is largely determined by what is taking place in the home.
Mr. Chin said Lasco values the dedication and work of teachers to nation building, adding that the Lasco group is committed to playing its part in acknowledging and rewarding them for moulding the lives of Jamaica’s youth in a positive way.
The 2011 Teacher of the Year award went to Tracy-Ann Beckford of McGrath High School, while Errol Johnson of St. Mary High was named Principal of the Year.
The annual Lasco/Ministry of Education Teacher and Principal of the Year awards recognize and reward excellence in the teaching profession. Entrants are judged on their professional development, commitment to education, creative leadership and community involvement.
The winning teacher and principal will each receive $100,000 from Lasco, a trophy, Lasco gift baskets and a trip to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Conference in the United States.
A total of 91 teachers and 34 principals were nominated from schools across the island. The 12 finalists who emerged are highly successful educators, who have demonstrated a commitment to education.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter