People love heroes, we all like to have someone we can look up, a seemingly larger than life figure who embodies the strength, courage and fortitude needed to accomplish great things. Each year we in Jamaica celebrate the lives, and legacies of our national heroes, these seven outstanding individuals have paved the way for us through their acts of bravery and unapologetic devotion to doing what was right.
Today I would like to use post to laud the courage and unapologetic devotion not only our seven National Heroes but also our heroes and heroines who fight for a better tomorrow in a different way. These are our teachers, the educators among us who work tirelessly day after day to create better men and women for the future.
Jamaica as a nation has always been very proud and respectful of our educators, we hold you our teachers in high esteem and view you as worthy examples to follow. This sort of esteem I believe stems from the value we place on the dedication and commitment of teachers, it comes from the fact that we cherish not only the formal education that you impart to us but also the values you instill.
I remember when I was a young boy, I had a teacher who went out of her way to help me. I returned to primary school for grade four two weeks late due to illness by the time I returned all the spaces in the best grade four classes were taken and I ended up in the “D” class of grade four. Miss Brown, my grade three teacher had left the school but weeks later returned on a private visit to the school and saw me lost in the “D” class. She boldly entered the room and said “no, no, no this little one mustn’t be in this class”. She took me to the “A” class in grade four and demanded that I be placed there, and I was. Thank you, Miss Brown, for caring enough and acting on it. It was her decisiveness that helped me to be the man I am today. My story is not unique to me. I am sure that if I were to journey the length and breadth of the island and ask every man, woman and child I meet to tell me about the teacher who inspired them the most I would hear some outstanding stories.
A hero is not a one-dimensional character, someone who exhibits only one persona. So too you as a teacher fulfills many roles in the classroom. On any given day you will have to be not only a teacher but also an arbitrator, a nurse, mother or a father, a counselor and sometimes a provider. As a teacher you must be flexible too, this ability to adapt to change has served you well in recent months when things changed so drastically, and classes moved to the virtual space. I dare to say that this is an unprecedented experience for you, and it has created a new dimension to your work life. Difficult as it is you have risen to the challenge and are doing your best to ensure that teaching and learning continues.
As the General Manager of the only teacher owned and operated financial institution in Jamaica, I must place on record how proud and humbled I am to serve you our educators, our heroes. Thank you for the work you do. Today I salute you our teachers as heroes and heroines.