Past President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Sadie Comrie, has a strong belief in serving others through teaching.
She says her desire to enter the teaching profession came from the influence of an aunt, also a teacher, who inspired her to make a difference.
“From growing up…I just liked to help, and to work in those rural communities with students from a number of different districts. I was really prepared to deal with them, because I was grown up that way,” she states.
Mrs. Comrie is among 40 educators, who received the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation later this evening, for outstanding contribution to the sector.
The JTA past president, who has served the education system for 39 years, started her teaching career shortly after receiving a certificate at the Caenwood Junior Teachers’ College in 1970, then earned a Diploma at Bethlehem Moravian College.
From there, she served as classroom teacher/librarian, and guidance counsellor, at various schools; developed literacy programmes; and was also involved in sports, music and the promotion of culture. She was JTA President from 2002 to 2003, and served as liaison officer between 2008 to 2011, where her major responsibility was to liaise between the Ministry of Education and the JTA.
Mrs. Comrie, who is a former principal of the May Pen Primary School in Clarendon, has received a number of awards, including the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) 2010 Golden Torch award for long and meritorious service to education in 2011.
Mrs. Comrie says that her most rewarding experience was when she was employed as a guidance counsellor at Lewisville High School. “Students have their different problems, with family members, with the community, and I was able to help them to solve these problems. When they cried on my shoulders, those moments that I can’t forget,” she recalls.
The PM’s Medal of Appreciation, she believes, is a testament for her passion for education. “I am grateful, I am humbled, wherever I worked I did not do it to get a reward, I just do it because it’s me, I am there for people. Teaching is golden, you go into teaching, and it will be very rewarding. It challenges us to do greater work, it helps us to help students, it gives them hope for a better world,” Mrs. Comrie remarks.
Former student of the Lacovia High School and Pastor of the Cornwall Court Baptist Church in St. James, the Rev. Wayne Smith, who recommended Mrs. Cromrie for the award, tells JIS News that she had a strong influence on his development.
“She treated me like her own child, and I am happy that somebody would have recognised her for what she would have been doing over the years. To get this type of award, it is very good; I feel happy to know that a role model is honoured,” he states.
For Career Development Officer, Karen Porter, who also received the PM’s Medal, her greatest pleasure was to see their students succeed.
The 62-year old has given 46 years to education, teaching at several schools at the primary and secondary levels in St. Elizabeth. She however fondly remembers the 20 years that she served at her alma mater, Giddy Hall Primary, where she was class teacher and sports coordinator.
“At Giddy Hall, it was extremely satisfying. It was hard work, tough hours, but the youngsters were mannerly, they were responsive, and they did well. I was encouraged to go with some of them to the National Stadium (for athletic meets) …to see them receiving medals, or being recognised as outstanding in their class,” she tells JIS News.
Miss Porter, who works at the HEART Trust/NTA, says that not having formal secondary education has never prevented her from pursuing tertiary development.
“It is not the school that you go to, but the persons, who work with you; that’s what pushes you on. The education I received at Giddy Hall Primary School was extremely good,” she says.
Senior Internal Auditor at the National Water Commission (NWC), Cassanger Coke-Nelson, remembers Mrs. Porter as a disciplinarian, who was interested in their success. “We are grateful to her because she helped us to pass our exams, and to be where we are today. She deserves it (medal), because she has worked long and hard in the classroom, and had greatly impacted our lives. She is a great choice for that award,” she told JIS News.
The Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation is given to a teacher, who has served for a minimum of 15 years, and displayed exceptional service in the teaching profession; and has shown evidence of community involvement and creativity in the service given.
By Garfield Angus, JIS Reporter