Focus on Principals | Collette Feurtado-Pryce: Encouraging students to aim for excellence
Collette Feurtado-Pryce, principal of St Jago High School since January 2016, leads an institution that is known to produce athletes.
She is one of those principals who is an avid sports enthusiast and a nature lover. She goes "early to bed, and is early to rise ... making her healthy, wealthy and wise".
Feurtado-Pryce says that she is driven by excellence.
"I have been shaping lives through excellence and greatness in a positive way from the very moment I entered the teaching profession," she says.
Being a teacher, according to Feurtado-Pryce, was fate.
"I have become my mother," Feurtado-Pryce said. "As long as I can remember, I had always wanted to teach."
She said that she is passionate about what she does as she moulds lives, motivates, and inspires teachers and students alike.
"If I had to live again, I would unhesitatingly choose teaching as my career," she said.
She has been an educator for the last 27 years. Feurtado-Pryce taught at the Jose MartÌ Technical High School for 16 years; served as senior vice-principal at Jamaica College for nine years; and did a one-year stint as principal at Tarrant High School.
Feurtado-Pryce says that as a principal, it is her objective to bring about excellence in students. This, she says, can be achieved through an acceptable vision and mission, hard work, accounta-
bility, fairness, and discipline. Her mission is a reflection of St Jago High School's motto Labor Omnia Vincit - which means Labour Conquers All.
Feurtado-Pryce believes that St Jago is the best co-educational institution in Jamaica.
St Jago students have been consistent in overall performance - from academics to sports.
"I not only have a strong legacy to maintain, but it is important that I fulfil the national vision of ensuring that each child who enters Ravensworth leaves with a minimum of five subjects," she said.
Feurtado-Pryce says that the institution works towards proficiency of its students in English and mathematics, a skill, and a foreign language.
Feurtado-Pryce says that love and respect are among the values she holds dear. To her, love is the greatest thing that God has given, for He Himself is love.
Feurtado-Pryce is of the view that love is a brilliant illustration of a principle everywhere discoverable, namely, that human reason lives by turning the friction of material forces into the light of ideal positives.
She embraces the concept espoused by Joseph Conrad, who wrote that "a man's real life is that accorded to him in the thoughts of other men by reason of respect or natural love".
Her philosophy of life has evolved over time.
"What has swayed me, however, is my genuine love and respect for others," she said.
Feurtado-Pryce describes herself as a people-oriented individual who lives by the rule 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'
"My purpose is to bring out the best in persons with whom I interact, to connect with love and respect," she said.
"Mrs Pryce is a pleasant person with excellent people skills," says Prince Bailey, president of the St Jago PTA. "This principal is someone who will spare the time and effort to listen to you and talk with you."
According to Bailey, Feurtado-Pryce is very polite and gracious as a person.
Consistent motivation and guidance of the students have earned the school numerous laurels, which humbles Feurtado-Pryce.
St Jago High has won School Challenge Quiz competitions four times: in 1998, 1990, 2008, and 2010.
St Jago High is 2017 national high school champion and rural champion in chess. They have now been champions for four consecutive years, and overall, this is their eighth title victory.
The school boasts two Rhodes scholars - in 1983 and 2017; it won Boys' Champs in 1987 and 1993 and Girls' Champs in 1987, 1988, and 1999. St Jago was the third-place winner at the 2016 Girls' Champs and was fourth in 2016 Boys' Champs.
According to Elsa H. Walters in her book Principles of Education, there is more to education than the impact and the influence of the environment on a person.
"Education is a two-way process, and the result of any special educational experience depends as much on the way a person responds to it as on what is being done to him."
Feurtado-Pryce believes that with everyone working together and staying together, the impact of the various programmes will bring desired success.
- The author is a guidance counsellor at Mona High School, St Andrew.