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Teacher at the Holland High School, Dageanna Spencer-Hull and Principal of the Rollington Town Primary School, Dr. Margret Bailey, were on Tuesday (December 4),  announced as the 2012/2013 Lasco/Ministry of Education Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year, respectively.

The two were chosen from a shortlist of 12 educators, six in each category, following several intense rounds of interviews, where they were judged on various criteria. These included: employment status, classroom commitment to education, professional development, community involvement, effective communication skills and scholarly work.

First and second runner up for Teacher of the Year were Cassandra Rowe and Dayton Gray, respectively, while Yvonne Miller Wisdom and Arnaldo Allen were named first and second runner up for Principal of the Year.    

Speaking at the awards ceremony, which was held at the Wyndham Kingston hotel in New Kingston, Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, congratulated the educators on a job well done.

“The standards of excellence, which are to be found among all the nominees… must become the standard of all,” he said.

Rev. Thwaites  emphasised  that teachers play a vital role in molding the minds and characters of the nation’s youth and therefore the quality of those in the profession must be of the highest standard.

“The teaching profession is the absolutely crucial initiative of educational transformation in Jamaica. Quality in teaching, every scientific study tells us, is the bedrock ingredient in good outcomes,” he said.

As such, he said the Ministry continues to work to improve the standard and quality of teaching in Jamaica, in an effort to further improve the education system.

“The Jamaica Teaching Council is going to be that agency of the state that will set the high standards for the teaching profession. The government has undertaken a process of consultations with representatives of the teachers, parents, churches and the communities to ensure that we have a product that we can all accept and which will lift the lustre of the teaching profession,” the Minister said.   

Rev. Thwaites also congratulated the Lascelles Group for its commitment to education, pointing out that the company’s continued efforts, over the years, is the kind of partnership that is necessary for the further development of education sector.

“The government can’t do it alone, parents can’t do it by themselves, and the private sector has a role to play, as the whole community must be engaged,” he said.

The Principal of the Year and Teacher of the Year  walked away with a number of prizes, including: $100,000 each; a trip to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASDC) in the United States; a champion trophy; plaque; Lasco gift basket; and spa gift certificate.

Mrs. Spencer-Hull, who said it was her lifelong dream to become a teacher, thanked her Principal, Pauline Reid, for nominating her for the prestigious award. She further thanked the Ministry of Education and Lasco “for further extending their confidence in me.”

The social studies, sociology and religious education teacher said she is grateful for the honour. “Just two weeks ago, I laid my father to rest, and I know this is what he would have wanted and so it’s very touching,” she said.

Dr. Bailey, who is an Educational Psychologist, with an extensive record in the field of education, said she is humbled by the award and accepted it on behalf of all the hard working principals in Jamaica.

“Today, being the recipient of this prestigious award has inspired me into action. Like President Barack Obama, I am fired up. I pledge to commit to the work I started to help Jamaica achieve its 2030 National Development Goals,” she said.

Dr. Bailey noted that despite the challenges of the profession, she is committed to changing lives in a positive way and will continue to make a difference in the lives of the children who are entrusted in her care. “I strive to be the best principal that I can be,” she said.