Saluting our teachers
Careen Yolanda James-Barnett
Third time a charm
Careen James-Barnett is no stranger to success in teaching. In addition to her 20-year teaching career, she has managed to earn the title as the Junior Achievement Champion Teacher for the parish of St Catherine for three consecutive years. Her ability to stay on top is borne out of her passion for positive change and development in her students.
"I decided to become a teacher because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of young impressionable minds," she shared.
James-Barnett believes that her success as a teacher is due to her ability to "motivate" and "inspire" children to achieve excellence. She added that by demonstrating love and care, lives can be positively changed.
The decision to deliver Junior Achievement programmes at St Jago High was not a difficult one for her, as she benefitted from one of the programmes while she was a student at the same institution.
"I feel that young people need to know more about entrepreneurship and managing their finances and Junior Achievement is a great avenue to do so."
James-Barnett has been consistent in helping the students of St Jago attain maximum benefit from two programmes offered by Junior Achievement Jamaica (JAJ) - the JA Personal Finance and the Junior Achievement Company of Entrepreneurs (JACE) programmes.
The success has been evident, as her students have been recognised locally and internationally for their innovation and solid practices. Most recently, the student company 'SIVA' came fourth in the 2014-2015 JACE competition and was one of the top-20 student company finalists in the 2015 Junior Achievement Americas Company of the Year competition. They were selected from a pool of hundreds of student companies from 32 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada.
"One of my students, Zavion Edwards, represented the school in Canada, where he made a presentation and the company got special recognition for their product," she said.
In addition to the Ministry of Education, Junior Achievement has partnered with JN Fund Managers and the Financial Services Commission to help James-Barnett in her quest to help the students of St Jago to achieve economic success.
"I would like to see my students become more self-sufficient, have a sound mind and a clean heart, which will help to develop their communities and, by extension, their country."
An inspiration in the west
Having pursued Human Resource Management at University, Vernique Flex initially had no intention of teaching. She soon discovered, however, that she had a natural talent for teaching and has been doing so for the past 19 years.
"Becoming a teacher was more of a destiny," Felix said. "After completing the initial stage of my education, I couldn't find a job in my field and so teaching was an option. I have since realised that I possess some natural skills and have decided to continue my thrust in educating the nation's children."
Felix has turned her knowledge of Human Resource Management into helping students to become the astute professionals needed to start businesses and transform the workplace. This, added to her passion for business studies led her to deliver Junior Achievement Programmes at the Belmont Academy.
"Junior Achievement has added the value of experiential learning to my students. This has allowed them the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge in a practical way."
Felix recounted that one of her most rewarding experience to date, was working with one particular female student who struggled, but was determined to achieve.
"Nothing came easy for this student as her basic foundation had not been properly laid," Felix explained. I taught her not just the business curriculum but had to teach her basic mathematics skills. When she achieved a grade three in Principles of Accounts, it felt like a grade one with distinction."
Her interest in business extends beyond teaching, as she is active in her wider community promoting the advancement of businesses.
A passion for teaching
Kadean Beaver's belief that teaching is the noblest profession was the major driving force behind her decision to impart knowledge to young minds. She saw it as her way of contributing to nation building. Since 2003, Beaver has been educating children and preparing them to contribute positively to the development of the country.
"My passion for teaching began at an early age as I assumed leadership positions at school and play," she further explained that this passion motivated her to work hard to achieve the relevant qualifications to become a teacher.
Unlike some teachers who complain about limited resources for classroom learning, Beaver takes an innovative approach to ensuring that the job is done effectively.
"I use inexpensive materials to bring across my teaching concepts. Another man's waste material is often times my teaching or learning material. You would be surprised of the wonders these can do.
Beaver saw Junior Achievement as one of the solutions that could foster a greater level of educational experience for her students. She highlighted that the areas covered by the Junior Achievement BizTown programme was very appropriate for the grade five curriculum. Her students have benefitted immensely in the areas of problem solving, critical thinking, planning, and decision-making.
"The Junior Achievement programme is both student and teacher friendly. All the materials for the programme are readily supplied to deliver the content and this makes it hassle free," she added.
Her commitment to her students and desire for them to excel has led her to take the classroom into her own home. She also helps high-school students complete their School Based Assessments.
"When I am not at school imparting knowledge, I am usually at home helping slow learners to improve their reading and numeracy skills."
Beaver remains focused on ensuring that her students have the knowledge and expertise necessary to leave an indelible mark on society.
- Junior Achievement Jamaica will recognise 14 outstanding teachers at the Junior Achievement Champions for Youth Awards Banquet on May 31, 2016, at The Spanish Court Hotel. Many thanks to the sponsors Ernst & Young, Jamaica Public Service, The Gleaner (Media) Company Ltd, Fontana Pharmacy and Spanish Court Hotel for making it possible.