Ocho Rios Primary teacher tops ICWI’s Teachers Change The World initiative
Ann-Marie Stanford, teacher; Dacia Lobban (centre), student of Ocho Rios Primary School in St Ann; and Paul Lalor, president of the ICWI Group are all smiles as they give a thumbs up to the ICWI Teachers Change the World initiative

OCHO Rios Primary teacher Ann-Marie Stanford walked away with the top prize of $100,000 in the Insurance Company of the West Indies’ (ICWI) Teachers Change The World initiative to recognise Jamaican teachers. Stanford was among the five teachers honoured during an awards ceremony held at ICWI’s head offices in New Kingston on May 9.

Customers’ children at the primary, preparatory, and high school levels were invited to nominate a teacher who has helped them through the educational challenges caused by COVID-19. The programme would recognise teachers for their selfless giving and dedication to their students. Submissions were published in The Gleaner and the Jamaica Observer, where members of the public were invited to vote on ICWI’s Facebook and Instagram pages for what they thought was the best story.

Standford, who was nominated by 11-year-old Dacia Lobban, copped the most likes on social media, amassing a total of 1,438 votes. She was described by her student as committed, dedicated, and making the impossible seem possible. “A teacher is defined as a person who teaches, especially in school. But my teacher, Ms Stanford is so much more than that basic definition,” were her glowing words of praise.

Sandra Johnson, vice-president of finance, ICWI, presents 17-year-old Eric Bell, a student of Muschett High School in Trelawny, with a book voucher valued at $20,000 to assist with his educational pursuits

Commenting on the initiative, Paul Lalor, president of ICWI, said the stories submitted by students give hope, and shine a light on the high calibre of teachers in the system.

He noted how heartening it is to see how much teachers are willing to give of themselves, even in the midst of their own personal challenges and sacrifice.

“It feels good to honour these teachers for their hard work and dedication. If I had my way, more would be highlighted. However, for those who never made it to this platform, I just want to encourage them to maintain their standards of excellence and continue the most important work that they have been charged with — impacting the minds of our youth.”

Observing that the students’ glowing tributes said it all, he stressed the importance of good teachers in the educational system and the need to preserve them as many have already taken up more lucrative offers abroad.

Sandra Johnson (right), vice-president of finance, ICWI, presents Patricia Gillings, teacher at Muschett High School in Trelawny with a cheque award of $50,000 as the third place recipient

Gaylia Gayle, teacher at Calabar Primary and Infant School in Kingston, took the second prize with a total of 1,398 votes. She received a $75,000 cheque. Gayle was described by her 17-year-old student Kajune Nembhard as “an exceptional teacher” who went above and beyond in her assistance.

Patricia Gillings, a plumbing teacher at Muschette High School in Trelawny, earned third place with a total of 962 votes. She received a $50,000 cheque. Her student, 17-year-old Eric Bell, described her as his mentor for the past two years, praising her for visiting homes during the pandemic to ensure students received all their resources and notes.

Students who submitted nominations for the top three awardees received book vouchers valued at $20,000 each.

Coming up for honourable mention to round out the top five were Keyshia Townsend of Calabar Primary and Infant School and Patricia Dacres of Osbourne Store Primary and Infant, who both received two gift baskets and $10,000. Ten-year-old Tequan Blackwood and 12-year-old T’yanna Morgan who nominated Dacres both received gift baskets courtesy of the insurance company.

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