Focus on Principals | George Lewis - pursuing his childhood dream
"I have always wanted to become a teacher," says George Lewis. "My father also told me I was always reading a book and teaching reading."
And so the journey began 25 years ago, taking Lewis along various paths and honing his experience and expertise as a teacher; he has been the Principal of Mayfield All-Age School in Southfield, St Elizabeth, for the past four years.
He is patriotic, a devout member of the Baptist faith, and says that he would like to, with vim, vigour and vitality, move his school up the ladder of success.
Born in Kingston, Lewis attended school in the east and then settled in St Elizabeth.
He attended Lysson All-Age School, Morant Bay High School, The Mico University College, and University of the West Indies, Mona. Lewis graduated from The Mico University College in 1991.
Lewis says that he believes that the concept of love is one of the greatest success stories he knows. "I know that no matter the problem or condition I face, with love, it will be solved," he said. "So I live by the law of love, whether at school or in the wider community for love is always victorious."
Under the motto "If we rest, we rust, so soar we must", the school has 318 students who are supported by 15 teachers, one guidance counsellor and one vice principal.
It was pointed out that before he arrived at the school, the attendance rate was low, however, due to some initiatives such as the Never Been Absent award for students from all classes; the annual Boys and Girls' Day observations, honouring parents, and the Garden Project, which encourages the participation of all the students in the school - the attendance and punctuality rates have improved..
Academically, the results have shown marked improvement.
The school's literacy rate moved from 74.4% in 2013 to 86.8% in 2016. The numeracy rate moved from 60% in 2013 to 72.9% in 2016.
From this month the school will conduct an early class from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and a lunchtime special class for the Grade 6 GSAT students.
PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
Over 16 students have been given places at Hampton High School and Munro College in the parish.
Teaching runs in the family. His wife, who is principal of Aberdeen High School, was awarded the Lasco Principal of the Year award in November 2016, and her school was the winner of the Toyota Jamaica School Bus Competition.
Lewis says, he has a passion for helping people. His philosophy of life lies in the sentiments,
"I must make a difference wherever I go." It is no wonder that he has an annual project called The Christmas Hamper, which provides non- perishable items to the sick and needy in the communities of Queensbury, Yardley, Bellview, and Top Hill, to name a few. "We seek items like sardines, mackerel, corn beef, rice, flour, and so on, from parents, and other stakeholders," says Lewis.
He quotes writer Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton, who said that "the best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatises and inspires his listener with the wish to teach him".
The principal says that the members of the staff, across the board, at Mayfield All-Age School are very supportive of the initiatives that he has undertaken and continue to strive for all-round excellence.
"George Lewis is one of those educators who exemplify what is right about education in Jamaica," says Ruthlyn Johnson, his former batch mate. "He leads selflessly with humility, while striving to ensure his students are exposed to the tools that are critical to their development."
According to Anne Bent, a resident of the area, Lewis is an awesome Principal, who has brought the school to a different level by the way he motivates both staff and students.
- Paul Messam is guidance counsellor at Mona High School, St Andrew.