JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Marcia Lewis-Brown began her journey as an educator in 1983 with the desire to be the best, a goal many will agree she has achieved.
  • At Pratville, Mrs. Lewis-Brown moved up the ladder, from classroom teacher to senior teacher and then vice-principal.
  • The Frankfield Primary and Infant School Principal, who will retire soon, intends to enter the field of business.

Marcia Lewis-Brown began her journey as an educator in 1983 with the desire to be the best, a goal many will agree she has achieved.

With passion, love and commitment, Mrs. Lewis-Brown entered the classroom in that year at Pratville Primary and Infant School, in Manchester, where she spent 22 years sharpening her skills and being moulded into a servant leader.

“My first time in the classroom was a bit frightening. I was new to it and when you are in college all the expectations differ from what it is in reality. The other teachers provided guidance, so it turned out to be a good experience for me,” she shares.

At Pratville, Mrs. Lewis-Brown moved up the ladder, from classroom teacher to senior teacher and then vice-principal.

All these experiences prepared the former Tivoli Gardens student and Bethlehem Moravian College-trained teacher to be the transformational leader that Frankfield Primary and Infant School anticipated.

Mrs. Lewis-Brown also received a Diploma in Education from the former Moneague Teachers’ College, a first degree in Education and Administration from the University of the West Indies and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Nova Southeastern University.

“When I became a teacher I had great persons to emulate, and I know I got a lot from them, because they were always asking me to do new things and I learned from that,” she says.

“At Frankfield, I embraced the servant-leadership principle from the perspective of Robert Greenleaf, who stated that ‘the organisation exists to serve, leaders live to serve and the organisation should be of service to the people’, and that guided my time at Frankfield,” she shares.

Mrs. Lewis-Brown tells JIS News that when she started in 2005 she had a vision and her approach was to assess, analyse and identify the challenges of the institution and implement a workable solution as soon as possible.

“One of our main issues was the numeracy and literacy scores, and we put in a number of strategies to address it. I met with the senior and management staff and we implemented committees, such as the curriculum committee and the assessment committee. We also assessed the resources we had to work with,” she outlines.

A measurable five-year target was posted all over the school in visible areas. In addition, teachers were placed in subject areas that best fitted their talent and competencies.

Mrs. Lewis-Brown says she also had students writing her letters, as part of the strategy to improve literacy. Class Mottos were also developed to motivate the students.

One-hour reading sessions were also introduced for all grades, an initiative that the Ministry of Education later adopted in all schools across the island.

Within five years, the literacy and numeracy score for the institution increased from 50 per cent and 30 per cent, to 100 per cent and 93 per cent, respectively.

Additionally, she motivated several stakeholders to partner with the school to install flush toilets for the Primary and Infant Department, construct two classrooms for the Infant Department, construct a play area, and pave the school grounds and driveway.

“Based on our analysis of the school, we found things that could prevent our students from excelling. If your physical space is not welcoming, it affects teachers and students, so we had to change the infrastructure and the academic experience,” she says.

A proposal was submitted to the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives and it was accepted.

The institution also received assistance from past students, private entities, and friends of the school to improve the school facilities.

“This was like our changing point, because the school grounds were really bad; we had rocky terrain. Sometimes for one year, at least two students would fall and break a limb, so I kept applying to various entities to address it,” she tells JIS News.

The Principal says the project gave parents and students a different outlook. “The compound was more welcoming. We also got Internet at the school, so that was a bonus,” she says.

The institution received eight tablets from Jamalco and 15 computers from a past student, which the Principal says will be used to start a new programme aimed at maintaining the institution’s literacy and numeracy rates.

Mrs. Lewis-Brown says the next big project is to install perimeter fencing for the school as well as a multipurpose court.

“We want to develop the whole man, so we have made the physical education programme even more pronounced than before. When we have sporting activities, we use the proceeds to pay a trained physical education teacher who comes in on a Thursday when all students have that subject,” she outlines.

For her contribution to education over the last 33 years, Mrs. Lewis-Brown was awarded the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation in June.

The commemorative medal is awarded to persons who have given outstanding service through innovation and creativity as well as their active involvement in community development.

I am humbled and excited. When I was called I just sat back for a moment and said this must be God’s hand. I must give God thanks for everything He has done in my life, because nothing that I have done is of me; it is through him,” she says.

Community Representative on the school Board, Doris Lewis, tells JIS News that Mrs. Lewis-Brown’s performance as Principal is excellent and the award is much deserved.

“The school was even used as a model by the Ministry of Education under her leadership. She also gets good support from all the parents, especially the past students who contribute to building the school in any way possible,” she says.

Similarly, Senior Teacher at Frankfield Primary and Infant School, Claudine Copeland-Beckford, tells JIS News that Mrs. Lewis-Brown is a hard-working and dedicated principal.

“She is also a visionary leader. Whatever she needs to improve in the school, she works towards it until it is realised. To be honest, I am not surprised about her award because she deserves one of this nature,” she adds.

The Frankfield Primary and Infant School Principal, who will retire soon, intends to enter the field of business.