Career & Education

Transforming education

LASCO Teacher, Principal of the Year lay out plans for the year

Sunday, January 20, 2019

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The newest inductees into the LASCO/Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information (MOEYI) Teacher and Principal of the Year award scheme, Amorkard Brown and Margaret Campbell, can't wait to use their new platform to effect lasting change in the education sector.

In a recent Jamaica Observer interview with them following the December 2018 awards luncheon, they traced their history in the field and discussed their plans for the year.

Brown, 29, is the youngest winner of the 17-year-old Teacher of the Year competition to date. And with only seven years in the classroom under his belt so far, his stint in the profession may be relatively short, but he has managed to pack much punch within that time.

“My time at Munro College is just like a seeding that is thriving well in all seasons...I started out at Munro College as a lab technician and was promoted to teaching the lower school classroom in short order. Based on my interaction with the students, my skills were [later] utilised for the senior school cohort,” Brown explained.

Armed with a Bachelor of Education (Hons) in Science Education (Zoology and Botany), Brown specialises in science education, particularly for both units of Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination biology, and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate general science and biology.

For him, the title Teacher of the Year is symbolic not only for his own professional growth and achievement, but also for the boys he mentors.

“This title is an ambassadorship to the teaching profession. My role in the boys' education is absolutely vital… Being conscious of the ratio of males to females in academic achievements, I focus heavily on male empowerment through youth leadership and mentorship,” Brown told Career & Education.

He serves as co-ordinator for several student-centred initiatives on the campus, including the Secondary Exchange Programme between Munro College and Lewisville High School in the US; Integrity and Leadership Club (MunroStep); and MCPASS — the school's academic support system.

For his year of ambassadorship, Brown has many plans.

“As LASCO Teacher of the Year, I will be implementing JamaicaTeach, an initiative aimed at supporting commitment and excellence in the teaching profession. This initiative has three arms: The JamaicaTeach seminar, the National First Form Science Expo, and the newspaper column dubbed Looking Through The Eyes of a Teacher,” he shared.

For her part, principal Campbell, who will become the longest-serving principal at the 168-year-old St George's College at the end of this school year, is looking beyond her school insofar as the reach of the projects she has planned.

Her broad areas of focus will be on three underperforming areas of education — mathematics, boys, and interaction with the deaf and hearing impaired.

“Being awarded the Principal of the Year allows me to share more widely from my knowledge and experience. The exposure will also provide professional development opportunities and give me access to the best practice of others,” she told Career & Education.

“I envision the formation of a national coalition of principals of boys' schools to share best practices and facilitate the combining of resources to achieve better outcomes for the island's boys,” Campbell added.

She added:“I plan to pilot a programme where high school mathematics teachers prepare and deliver workshops for primary school teachers in key areas. This will provide support for the MOE's programme, which uses instructional coaches. I expect the dual benefit of: a) having high school teachers interact with basic principles which will strengthen their secondary teaching, and b) forming positive mentorship relationships between teachers.”

As a new board member of the Jamaica Association of the Deaf, Campbell also envisions more interaction between the education system of the hearing and that of the deaf.

“Advocating for the creation of videos of Jamaican Sign Language for parents of deaf children and others who would like to interact with the deaf is important to me. This will facilitate the early introduction of language to children who are deaf and hard of hearing, [which is] so important for later academic achievement. I would also like to advocate for early hearing detection tests at public hospitals, and additional resources and training for teachers of the deaf,” Campbell said.

Honoured and humbled to have her work recognised in the form of the LASCO/MOEYI Principal of the Year award, Campbell revealed that her professional pursuits did not start in teaching, but in computer programming and analysis.

“I always loved working with people, and in my youth considered child psychology or social work. At the time I was persuaded to pursue a more lucrative career. Though I was good at it and the salary was attractive, the only part of the job that I truly enjoyed was the user training. After about six years, I decided to experiment with my father's choice of career and started teaching mathematics (at a much reduced salary!). I fell in love. Even now, I am happiest when I am teaching,” Campbell told Career & Education.

The LASCO/MOEYI Teacher and Principal of the Year awards luncheon was held on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

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