Focus of Principals | Morlton Wilson - On a mission to help inner-city children
Morlton Wilson, principal of August Town Primary School since September 1991, leads an institution in a community that has seen its fair share of social and economic challenges.
Wilson says that he is driven by his love for children. He lives at the school cottage and gives untiring service to the August Town community.
"I like giving service to humanity, to my community, and, by extension, to my country," says Wilson. "I try to be humble, while helping as many as I possibly can."
Wilson was a Common Entrance teacher and rose to the rank of principal. He has been a justice of the peace since 2010.
"He is a kind-hearted and devoted principal, who is very strict when necessary," says Jolie Henry, a former head girl of August Town Primary, who now attends St Andrew High School for Girls and who also resides in the community. "Mr Wilson is very reliable and also well attired," she adds.
The school has produced students who have been successful in their studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona, past students like Shanice Bell, pursuing medicine; Romaine Nugent, civil engineering. Also, one past student who is now pursuing a course at The Mico University College, is now at the school on teaching practice.
Wilson, who is from Middlesex district in Hanover, is married to Noreen, and they have a son and a granddaughter. He is a Mico University College graduate, he has a master's in educational administration from the University of the West Indies, Mona.
"I believe in life-long learning, and so I encourage and facilitate teachers to do further studies." According to Wilson, when one is helping children, as a teacher one has to refresh oneself and display a good work ethic.
He says that being a leader in the community is never easy and attributes the support of the local police, political representatives, the University of the West Indies, Mona, the Citizens Security and Justice Programme, the Minister Fraternal, clubs and societies as his key support mechanisms.
"I encourage the children to attend Sunday School and church regularly, read as many books as possible, study hard, stay off the streets, and use their limited time wisely.
As the principal, he has implemented several initiatives at the school, some of which include:
1. The construction of a much-needed guard house.
2. The planting of trees to enhance beautification and good environmental practices.
3. Installation of fans and the refurbishing of the school's canteen.
4. The appraisal of teachers on a timely basis.
5. The high level of communication with parents through the PTA, parenting workshops, Grade meetings.
6. The provision of proper uniforms for ancillary workers.
7. The replacement of a well needed utility pole on the school compound.
8. The provision of a resource-rich environment that is supportive of all students at all levels.
9. The motivation strategy of teacher of the year.
10. The maintenance of clubs such as Cub Scouts, Builders Club, Heritage Club, Environmental Club, Debating Club, Brownies.
11. Reading and resource room with a reading specialist.
12. A Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R. programme).
13. literacy fair, spelling and reading competitions, and a breakfast programme.
"He is a very nice principal," says Dawn Whittingham, a janitor at the school for over 20 years. "He is a jovial individual and someone who makes the time to listen to parents and children alike," she adds.
According to June Reid, who operates the Tuck Shop, Wilson is a very straightforward man. He talks it as he sees it. He is honest and upfront."
Calvin Henry, who has been the security guard at the school for almost 11 years, says, "This principal has a passion for the children, and I observe this based on how he operates in the school."
"I have a passion and a drive for children," says Wilson. "Especially for children of all ages in the inner-city area."
He says he seeks to reach out to children that lower economic status. The principal pointed out that although there is no perimeter fence around the school, during exams when gun shots ring out, and children have to duck for cover, it has not deterred the students from being successful. "The children are my heroes," says Wilson. "The teachers have gone more than the extra mile to engage the students to learn, free of cost." He explained that when the GSAT results are out, all teachers have a claim on the successes, admitting that they were part of the moulding process.
According to Wilson, the GSAT results have seen fair success. So have numeracy and literacy.
Wilson was quick to point out that 'our children' have defied all the psychological issues despite being exposed to some challenging circumstances in the community.
"We are proud of the general behaviour and tone of the students," he said.
"Their behaviour does not reflect any of the negative things that unfortunately occur in the community which is loaded with so much potential."
The August Town Primary School was built in the 1940s. In 2000, the school's population exceeded 500 students, but saw a decline owing to the escalation of violence in the community in the mid-2000s. But Wilson, with the help of his associates, managed to stem that decline.
He says that his primary mission is to help students to become literate, numerate, disciplined, responsible, and sociable citizens so that "they can fit into the society and make tangible contributions to their families and their country".
- The author is a guidance counsellor at Mona High School.