HAVING to face indiscipline coupled with low wages, many persons opt to stay away from the teaching profession, but Cossett Grey has been moulding the minds of young people for 36 years.
At first glance, a warm smile will greet you, but when you speak to her, the command in her voice will get your full attention.
Grey, who holds a bachelor of science degree in special education, is an educator of home and family management at Pembroke Hall High. She says she has seen it all, but as a woman of God she has used prayer to keep her going.
"Nothing beats prayer and it is a powerful weapon. Since I have been here I teach grades seven to nine and at times the CXC group and it is the power of God that has kept me," Grey said.
"I chose home and family management because I love to cook and I'm excited about meals. When I put it on the table and stand back and look at it, I'm excited and pleased with the work I have done. I love feeding people. When I prepare a meal and people are satisfied, I get satisfaction out of that," she said.
Grey, who has acted as vice principal on two occasions at the school and received the Prime Minister's Medal of Appreciation for Service to Education along with the Jamaica Teachers' Association's Golden Torch Award, admitted that becoming a teacher was not entirely her decision, as she recalls her mother wanting her to be a nurse but her cousin encouraging her to teach.
"When I left high school I worked at Spanish Town Hospital one summer and saw patients come in with cuts, and being previously afraid of blood I got over that fear. However, one of my cousins who was a teacher told me to try the profession and I did youth service for one year and taught some students, and from being in the classroom that's when I knew it was what I really wanted to do," she said
Since being at Pembroke Hall, Grey said she has taught thousands of students and her commitment to service in the capacity of teaching has led her to remain in the profession.
"I am a woman of God; a woman who really trusts God and puts her faith in God and I pray a lot. I have said that I've really dedicated 36 years at this school because I want to see the change. I have a strong spiritual Christian background. I believe it has played a great part in me staying here and I believe God has called me as a teacher," she said.
For Grey, respect is of utmost importance.
"I get a high level of respect from all the workers, even the students, whether it is my shift or not. Wherever my students are and I see them doing something out of line and I speak to them, they respect me," Grey said.
She added that over the years she has received calls from past students asking her to be their mother, as her guidance over the years has impacted their lives positively.
Outside of school hours, Grey leads the Women's Ministry at the Boulevard Church of the Nazarene, a care group which she said evolved from helping women with different needs.
"It came out of the whole aspect of women who are hurting, single mothers, those who don't know how to deal with their children, and those who had abusive husbands, among other things. I thought of getting women together so they could share in a support group to help women develop in a holistic way; be loving, kind and compassionate to women in their families, church and community as well as becoming prayerful, humble and diligent," she said.
She added that from time to time visitors are invited to share on topics such as having good mental health, comfortable menopause and a healthy lifestyle.
For Grey, her life is ordered by a passage of scripture taken from Colossians 3:23, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men".
"I am not in it for reward from man, but one day God is going to reward me, so whatever I'm doing, I do it with my own heart," she said.