IN her day job, Claudette Carter works with coaches deployed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the region to assist local teachers with the development of literacy. She helps with training sessions to ensure teachers get the support they need in various communities; ensures that boys and girls have the same opportunities for educational growth; and that parents partner with schools to support their children.
As a retired assistant chief education officer in the Professional Development Unit of the Ministry of Education, and current project director for the ministry's USAID Education Partnership for Improved Reading Outcomes, Carter's days are chock-full.
But she's also a woman of many talents — she's a poet, writer, artist and she does embroidery, sewing, crochet, programme design and decorating.
"I can crochet and I learned embroidery from my mother who taught me to embroider an entire picture. I did a course with Singer one summer and so I can sew. I'm good at craft and my next-door neighbour will ask me to help out her children with their craftwork. I love to decorate and I will stay up all night and design programmes for my church," Carter said.
Carter, 60, has also been a Kiwanian for over 25 years, and both she and her husband served as president for different clubs simultaneously. She's proud of her life's work, especially with her current posting in the year-old project that aims to see children improve their literacy skills and teachers improve the way they teach children.
"It's a government-to-government partnership that is funded by USAID and when the project ends the whole idea of teachers teaching children properly will be sustained. We have a sustainability plan in place to ensure this goes on," she said.
Married for over three decades, Carter, who has a first degree in history and a master's in English, is also a budding artist, who had wanted to, but was dissuaded from pursuing art as a career while at St Andrew High School for girls.
But upon retiring from her education officer post at the ministry, Carter did a refresher's art course at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts to occupy her time.
On visits to Montreal and France, she had a reconnection with her artistic side, though she admits to not doing much after she did the course.
"I was accepted to do art at McGill University in Montreal after A' levels and was only able to visit that university 40 years later. Then visiting the Louvre in Paris was the ultimate joy for someone so passionate about art," she said.
Carter's bucket list includes publishing a novel and entering some of her pieces in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission competitions. For now she indulges in novels to occupy her spare time and writes some of the material for the literacy programme.
"I'm a voracious reader and I have piles of books and a Kindle that I lose myself in daily. I plan to write novels and paint masterpieces one day," she laughed.
The seriousness of her day job belies the fact that she also loves retro parties and will dance until her knees give out to the music of the 70s and 80s.
Carter, who's looking forward to being a grandparent in a matter of weeks, doesn't plan to stop working, or having fun anytime soon.
She said she admires Edna Manley for working up until she was elderly.
"I won't stop doing things. When you stop desiring or wanting to achieve, then you might as well lie down and die. As long as I'm in full control of my faculties, I'll continue working, whether on a Kiwanis project, church project or a personal project," she said.