FROM a childhood riddled with lack, struggle, and community violence to being the founder and principal of The Christian's Early Childhood Academy, Sherica Christian is a perfect example of what the will to win looks like.
With 13 siblings, the irrepressible educator knew the harsh reality of limited means and always aspired to live a life that brought transformation. Positively impacted by her teachers throughout her childhood, Christian recalls how their encouragement ignited her aspirations to become more than what she was exposed to.
"I grew up in Waterhouse with my mother who was a single parent. The community was volatile, but I used it as a way to motivate myself to get out of it," shared Christian. "During my childhood I was very aware of the love I received from my teachers. When I attended Balmagie Primary, in grade 5 I got very ill and my teacher Miss Thompson took care of me and visited me when I was in the hospital. These experiences inspired me to pursue teaching, and it has been the best decision I have ever made."
After completing her Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, Christian considered teachers' college but was not able to afford it. "My mother did not have the money, but I was not going to give up on my dream, so what I did was sell hot dogs in the front yard every Friday. I saved enough money and went to Garmex Heart Academy for three years and got my diploma in early childhood education. After this I took a break then I went to Mico. Funnily enough, at one point I was going to pursue nursing. I even started the programme for a very short period. I kept going back to teaching because I was so passionate about it," she explained.
Christian was later led to open her own school, The Christian's Early Childhood Academy, which consistently demonstrates her commitment to creating a safe environment for all children and staff.
"I really want to see the school flourish. I did not imagine how many lives I would touch with owning my own school," said Christian, adding that the journey has not been without challenges. The educator is, however, grateful for organisations like the Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) Foundation and Malta which have reached out on multiple occasions to give support.
The most recent collaboration between the foundation and the beverage brand resulted in a donation of $700,000 to the school and a nourishing breakfast pop-up activation for students and staff.
"This donation brought tears to my eyes because I know how much this means to the children. We have had challenges with collecting school fees, but we do not believe any child should be deprived of a basic education, so this donation goes towards offsetting outstanding school fees. We are extremely grateful to Malta and the foundation," said Christian.
While support from corporate is always welcome, the early childhood educator believes the impact of teachers is even more important.
"Teaching is innate, it's not something you do just because of an income. These children who we are teaching will become doctors, lawyers, and nurses who will be taking care of us when we get older. When you bake a cake without baking powder it will not turn out well. Teachers are like baking powder, we are the salt of the earth, what we do is very important. If you are going to be a teacher, do it because you love it, not just because of the salary you will gain from it."