Seven employees of the Shady Grove Basic School, located at 217 Old Hope Road, in Kingston, have been honoured for giving 10 and more years of service to the institution.
Included in the group is Principal, Mrs. Myrtle Wellington, who has been at the helm of the school since its inception 35 years ago.
Following the Christmas and Awards Luncheon, held at Lillian’s Restaurant, University of Technology (UTech), in Kingston, on December 17, Mrs. Wellington told JIS News that she was overwhelmed by the honour.
“I am beaming with joy, and I am just grateful to God, to the (school) Board members for this memorable occasion,” she said.
Mrs. Wellington, with the help of other persons, converted a building that was initially a bar, and thereafter served as an animal shed, into the Shady Grove Basic School. On January 7, 1974, the school started with one student, and subsequently expanded to its current complement of approximately 150 students.
The Principal and the other honourees were presented with plaques and cash awards ranging from $10,000 to $15,000.
The other awardees were: teachers, Mrs. Dalsie Crisp, 34 years of service; Mrs. Olivene Holness, 31 years; Mrs. Delores Martin, 27 years; teachers-in-training, Miss Maxine Green, 20 years; Miss Janice Walford, 11 years ; and cook, Miss Patricia Nelson, 17 years.
Board Chairman of the Shady Grove Basic School, Mrs. Cynthia Peart (right), pins a corsage on the jacket of Executive Director of the Early Childhood Commission, Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, who was the guest speaker at the basic school’s Christmas and Awards Luncheon, held at Lillian’s Restaurant at the University of Technology (UTech), Kingston, on December 17.
Several other employees were also recognised for their invaluable contribution to the school and were given gift baskets. They were janitor, Mr. Robert Scott; assistant cook, Miss Karen Pearson; teacher, Miss. Tanisha Powell; and former teacher, Miss Alicia Richie.
Guest speaker at the function, Executive Director of the Early Childhood Commission, Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, said that given the huge impact teachers have on the quality of children’s lives, society has invariably charged these educators with the tremendous responsibility of tending to its many ills.
“While, sometimes, our teachers may feel overwhelmed by this responsibility, one can understand, based on the time that teachers spend with children, why society feels the way it does. Of the 16 waking hours that the average child has each day, six to seven hours or almost half of the day-time hours are spent at school. There are many children who never see their parents for such long periods each day, so one of the more constant persons in their lives are teachers,” she said.
She noted that the effective, efficient teacher of today’s world, must therefore be a multi-skilled, multi-talented individual who has many different roles.
Professor Samms-Vaughan said that apart from the traditional roles of a teacher as an educator, where he or she is expected to be a planner, information and resource provider, and an assessor, additional skills and competence in the biological, social, behavioural and health sciences are now required to address the changing environments of today’s children.
In taking on the role of a biologist, she noted that early childhood teachers, literally hold the brains of young children in their hands. “Your training and skills will impart the necessary readiness skills that are the building blocks for later academic success…However, more important is the impact you have on the brains of children by your social and emotional interactions,” she said.
Teachers, she noted, have also had to deal with children who have unstable family lives, thus employing skills of sociologists, or social workers. “The teacher of today must therefore understand the sociology of changing family patterns and the impact this has on our children in order to understand and respond appropriately to the challenges that may be presented in the classroom,” she said.
She noted further that one of the most important and challenging roles of today’s teachers is that of a behaviour scientist. “The teacher of today has to be aware of all the traumatic situations that our children face…The teacher has to try and understand how children think, and feel and learn and respond to these different situations,” the Executive Director pointed out.
Professor Samms-Vaughan said that teachers also have to assume the role of health scientists as they now have to deal with the impact of HIV/AIDS in the classroom, among other health issues.