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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has commended teachers for their service, noting that they can take pride in their calling and contribution to nation building.

“They may not be household names, but their names will live on in the hearts and minds of the students whose lives they helped to shape,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

The Prime Minister was speaking at a ceremony held on June 9 at Jamaica House, where she presented medals of appreciation to 40 teachers from across the island, in recognition of their service to education.

Taking note of the educators’ involvement in their respective communities, she noted that the recipients of the Medal of Appreciation for Education bear testimony to the fact that education does not begin and end in the classroom.

“Teachers across the length and breadth of Jamaica are playing significant roles in community development as mentors and in a variety of community activities,” she added.

[RELATED: Veteran Educator to Receive PM’s Medal of Appreciation]

Even as she lauded the teachers, the Prime Minister also called on the nation to protect the children. She commiserated with the many teachers, who sometimes received tragic news of their charges being murdered, noting that she shared their grief.

“I have taken notice of the recent violent attacks (against children). These acts of terror have left us all shaken,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

She pointed out that as “we go forward,” the teachers will have an even greater role to play in helping to educate parents and guardians, sensitizing them to the security needs of their children, not only at home, but also within and outside of the classroom.

The Prime Minister also urged parents and guardians to do everything possible, to ensure their children’s safety to and from school.

Instituted in 2005, the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Education is given to an educator who has served for a minimum of 15 years; displayed exceptional service in the teaching profession; and has shown evidence of community involvement, innovation and creativity in service.

Several of the teachers expressed gratitude and humility at receiving the award. For teacher at Holy Rosary Primary, Joycinth Malcolm, who has spent some 40 years as an educator, it was unexpected.

“Over the years as a teacher, you have never worked to get any reward, you are just teaching children, because that is the passion that you have. So, when I got this award it really humbled me,” she said.

In the meantime, Education Minister, the Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, also congratulated the awardees for their leadership and for laying a professional path on which to build.

“As I travel around the country, visiting schools, I am encouraged by the work of respectable and dedicated teachers. I see schools and students that are doing well. There are students who are not doing as well as others, but teachers are using creative methods to ensure their improvement,” he said.

“I say to those teachers, don’t give up. Share with me how we at the Ministry of Education can give the support needed to get the job done. Let us communicate with each other. Our objective is the same – the total development of our students,” Rev. Thwaites added.

Also addressing the ceremony were, Permanent Secretary in the Education Ministry, Elaine Foster-Allen and President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association, Clayton Hall.

There were also performances by the Jamaica Constabulary Force Band; the Jamaica Cultural Development Corporation (JCDC) Gold Medalist, Kaila Kamila Grant; Vaz Preparatory Dance Troupe and The Salvation Army Choir.

Contact: Andrea Braham