Educator stretches a hand to high school entrants
Kerene Nelson (left), Lasco Teacher of the Year in 2016-17, with recipients of the Kerene Nelson Signature of Excellence Fund(from second left) Sabrena Bruce, Gianna Salmon, Deandrea Rowe and Altoria Russell.

SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth —Educator Kerene Nelson, who was the Lasco Teacher of the Year for 2016/2017, operates on the basis of a simple philosophy.

“It is my belief that education is the bridge that gets you on the other side; thus, helping students to attain an education is critical,” Nelson, a Spanish language teacher at St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) told the Jamaica Observer by e-mail recently.

Her belief system came to the fore as she conducted her core volunteer project as Teacher of the Year five years ago, providing eye-opening Spanish lessons for teachers at the Schoolfield Primary and Infant School, a few miles south of Santa Cruz, high up in the Santa Cruz mountains.

At the time, she lobbied for, and secured, gifts for the school, including desktop computers from food manufacturing, distribution and financial services company, Lasco. And she continued her volunteer tutoring of Spanish at Schoolfield, even after her tenure as Teacher of the Year ended.

To cap it all, Nelson launched an annual project, the Kerene Nelson Signature of Excellence Fund, aimed at assisting a high achiever from Schoolfield who is about to enter high school.

To mark this year's fifth anniversary of the fund, benefits were extended to four students now exiting grade six to attend high school.

As explained by school Principal Okeshue Bigby, grade six student Gianna Salmon received the top award of $50,000, while Altoria Russell, Deandrea Rowe, and Sabrena Bruce received $5,000 each. The cash benefits go towards the purchase of books and uniform.

“Miss Nelson continues to inspire and give selfless service, despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19,” Bigby told the Sunday Observer in a WhatsApp message.

He also applauded Nelson for assisting a struggling family in the Schoolfield community in recent months. Children from that family attend Schoolfield Primary and Infant School.

For Nelson, the rationale for her efforts is straightforward and, ultimately, imperative for Jamaica's development. “… Whatever attempts can be made to help students attain an education must be intentionally and purposely considered. And, surely, knowledge combined with integrity and ambition is a formula for success,” she said.

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