Sun | Mar 18, 2018

Focus on Principals | Nellie Wellington Boxe – lifelong educator and learner

Published:Sunday | December 11, 2016 | 12:34 AMPaul Messam
Nellie Boxe, principal, Constant Spring Primary & Junior High.

Recognised in her circles as among one of Jamaica's active, energetic performers in the education arena, Nellie Wellington Boxe, attributes her success to determination, hard work and Almighty God.

"My life is guided by God," says Boxe. "For me it's just the work of the Lord."

On the door of her office is a sign that says: "With God all things are possible... I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

She says that she firmly believes she was called for this profession.

"I would never change for another even with all its challenges," Boxe said.

Teaching is her life, Boxe says, and she was fortunate to have very good role models in her early years of her career; she has been in the teaching profession for approximately 38 years.

Born in Mount Side, St. Elizabeth, Nellie Wellington Boxe is the second of seven children. Her Father was a farmer and her mother was Housewife. She attended the Mount Side Primary and Newell High (Black River High school); thereafter her journey took her to Bethlehem Teachers' College.

She taught P.E, science and remedial reading at Black River High School. She then moved to Kingston where she started teaching at Constant Spring Primary and Junior High. Here she was given the task to improve the level of reading of Grade 7 students, who were lagging behind.

"I worked and worked hard with these children because their reading level was very low," she said.

As she worked with the students, she invited their parents and advised them on various areas - primary among them was love and affection.

" I called in the parents one by one and reminded them that God gave these children to them and they should love them care for them," Boxe said. "All have potential and greatness within them."

She encouraged the children, worked with them, and gave them extra time for capacity building.

These children, by the end of the academic year, showed great improvement in all areas.

Boxe said that the principal at the time, Mrs. Durrant, saw the improvement in the students over time and praised her for her hard work.

"I was later promoted to a senior teacher," she said. Then she went on to Mico Teachers College to further training, here Boxe was also drafted in the Reform of Secondary Education (R.O.S.E) Programme, which she implemented in the school.

How does she find time to get through so many activities?

"I arrive at school early and leave late," Boxe says. "I was committed to the tasks assigned to me, I wrote my lesson plans, I love the children and treat them well with respect and honesty; and they in turn love because they see the kind of heart that God has given me.

"I eat with the children in the classroom, I eat what they eat. I treat my teachers well. If they are ill, they know I am there for them. If they are feeling down, I am here to lift them up," she said.

She says that this collective approach reaps all round benefits - for students, teachers, and the parents; and in turn the whole community benefits.

Does she take time off from work?

Well according to this Principal, the only time off she has enjoyed are the transition periods between appointments.

"I have learned to make the most of them," Boxe said.

Wellington Boxe sees herself as a teacher and a life-long learner, as according to her, she is not the fountain of all knowledge.

"I learn from my teachers, I learn from the teachers I supervise," Boxe said.

She says that if there is something that she is unsure of, she would ask.

As the principal of Constant Primary and Junior High School, she has implemented a number of programmes for the benefit of the students. There is a homework programme in association with the 6th form students of Immaculate Conception High School, help the students at her school.

There is the Breakfast Programme, which initially started out with giving cup of cereal to the students, but now it has developed into a full breakfast menu, where the students, and especially those who psycho-social challenges, can have a healthy and wholesome cooked breakfast.

Under the motto "Persevere for excellence" the school has an approximate population of 1,080 students which is complimented by 43 teachers 2 Guidance Counsellors and 2 Vice Principals.

"One word 'excellent'," says Oneil Morrison, Mathematics Teacher of Principal Boxe. "I use to work with other persons and trust me this is the best Boss I have ever had; if you have a problem you feel comfortable talking to her."

" She is a wonderful lady, very professional and fair," remarked Tsahi Roache-Chambers, another teacher at the school.

According to her students Akayliah Neil, Mrs Boxe helps the children a lot, she and cares for them. "She is the best Principal," she said.

And Akeem Brown quipped: "Mrs Boxe is a good principal, she is alright."

Motto of the school: "Persevere for Excellence"

- The author is a guidance counsellor at Mona High School