JIS News

Veteran educator in St. Ann, Joel Slack will be conferred with the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Officer Class (OD), on Heroes Day (October 20), at the national honours and awards ceremony, to be held on the lawns of King’s House.
Mr. Slack, who resides in Moneague, but was born and raised in the community of Claremont, in the parish, has provided invaluable service in the field of education, nationally.
He received his early education at the Claremont Elementary School, where he was successful in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Jamaica Local Examinations, after which he went to teach as a pre-trained teacher at St. Georges All-age, Blackstonedge, in the parish, and after three years, he left for further training at the Mico Teachers’ College.
“I had always looked forward to going to ‘The Mico’, because at that time the ‘Mico man’ was considered as a special person, who after leaving the college would go into communities and make a difference,” Mr. Slack tells JIS News, adding, “I did well there too, receiving honours in the second and third years”.
He says after leaving Mico he returned to St. Ann and worked as principal at Turnberry All-age, Moneague All-age, and also, St. Georges, Blackstonedge, “where I worked until 1961, when I left for the University of the West Indies (UWI), and did two courses in the newly introduced ‘Certificate of Education’, then two years later I returned and did the Bachelor of Arts (BA) General, pursuing subjects such as history, geography and sociology “.
During his second stint at UWI, he was elected Chairman of Taylor Hall.
In 1971 to 1976, when Mr. Slack became an education officer, he had the responsibility for primary and all-age schools in the parishes of Hanover, St. Mary and St. Ann; and in 1997 to 1989 he worked as a senior education officer, with responsibility for other education officers, as well as principals of primary and all-age schools in Region Four, including St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland; and Region Three, comprising Trelawny, St. Ann and St. Mary.
Some of his other experiences included, participation in workshops on sex education in Jamaica, Sweden and London; leading groups of Jamaican participants on Government projects in schools/community outreach training programmes to Southern University, Louisiana, United States of America (USA); specialist in the Referral Unit in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture; and Lecturer in Mathematics at the Moneague College.
A sport enthusiast, Mr. Slack, who is fond of especially cricket and football, says he became involved in athletics at Mico, “and took that zeal to the schools, where we started school sports, and in recent times, I was co-organiser of cricket and football in primary and all-age schools in Eastern St. Ann, and I sponsor one of the school’s athletic houses at St. Georges”.
As an Anglican, he is currently involved in his church at St. Georges, as a Diocesan Lay Preacher; and he is also involved in other community activities as Chairman of the Moneague Citizens’ Consultative Committee, and member of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) St. Ann Parish Advisory Committee.
The education stalwart is reminding teachers, presently in the education system, that they have the responsibility of shaping the lives of future Jamaica, through their work with the young minds under their charge.
Turning to young Jamaicans, the retired educator said, “seek to avoid drugs and crime, and take the whole matter of learning seriously, as ultimately, this will lead to a better future”.
Commenting on his selection for a national award, Mr. Slack says, “I am very happy and I really feel pleased to note that some group of persons saw that I merited it. It is saying to me that diligent work, without counting the cost, has its merit, and given the chance I would do it again, because I feel honoured and I am happy about the whole idea of helping people”.

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