Editorial

Teachers who brave the long, hot summers

Friday, July 05, 2019

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It's so hot these days, most people think twice, thrice, before leaving the shade.

We hear from the local met office that on June 22, temperatures in Kingston reached 39.1 degrees Celsius, the highest ever recorded in the capital city.

Globally, experts are saying June was the hottest month on record in the northern hemisphere.

Students and teachers must be thankful then, that the long summer holidays are finally with us, especially since most classrooms clearly weren't built with rapidly rising temperatures in mind.

It seems fair to say that with ever-increasing climate change-induced heat, those who have advocated a shortening of the summer holidays to accommodate more study time, should perhaps think again.

Of course, for most teachers and school leaders, work continues during the summer. As we understand it, professional development courses, seminars, etc are mandatory for educators through July and August. Then there is the preparation which must take place for the start of the new school year.

In a real sense then, the teacher's work is never done.

The really good ones don't worry unduly about the hardships, the low pay etc. The success of their charges not just in scholarship but by evolving to become responsible, hard-working, caring adults and good citizens, provide for teachers satisfaction aplenty.

Jamaicans should never forget or ignore the self-sacrifice and service of our teachers to our country and people not just in the class room, but as community leaders.

Consider for a moment the contribution of teachers who supported 11-year-old Miss Gabrielle Fennell to such an extent that she excelled in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) even after brain surgery in 2017.

Post-surgery, the child had to learn to walk again. Formerly left-handed, she had to learn to use her right hand to write. For a while, her teacher had to make notes, take pictures of it and send to Gabrielle's mother, to help the child keep up with her lessons.

Think of isolated Merrywood Primary, on the edge of the Cockpit Country in north-west St Elizabeth. There, teachers worried about the communication skills of their students have involved the community in developing innovative ways to get their students reading, speaking and writing English.

In Manchester, educators yearning to have their students enjoy, rather than fear mathematics, have developed an activity called Mathlympics involving math-related fun games — now highly anticipated by children.

Consider the example of the vice-principal of Corinaldi Avenue Primary School in St James, Mr Deon Stern, who has gone out of his way to provide meaningful support for boys with behavioural problems.

Then there is principal of Woodlawn School of Special Education, Ms Tamara Royal-Reynolds, and her staff. They have integrated the Jamaica Moves initiative at their institution, encouraging their young charges to develop a lifestyle incorporating regular exercise and a healthy diet.

We could go on and on but we know that by now our readers get the picture. Jamaica's teachers —we believe the majority of them — go way beyond the call of duty as a matter of course.

Beyond acclaim, they deserve just material reward — which we expect will come to them eventually, as the recovering Jamaican economy grows stronger and more robust.

The quicker that happens, the better.


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