Mon | Feb 19, 2018

Praising my first primary-school teacher, and others

Published:Friday | March 4, 2016 | 11:09 PM

I would like to honour the memory of my first primary-school teacher, the late Mrs Gretel Patrick, JP.

After being home-schooled by my mother, upon arriving at Alley Primary, Mrs Patrick made me feel welcome amid the first-day trauma. She was a great educator. Her teaching methods were exemplary, giving constant individualised attention, and reading practice was paramount.

Mrs Patrick's classroom was prepared to motivate us to read and write. The charts on the wall exhibited a kaleidoscope of colour embodying poems, gems, the alphabet and numbers. This setting was beautiful and calming.

We, her students, felt loved and cared for, and she was always well-groomed and neat from head to toe - a picture to emulate. Good manners were demanded, and she gave instructions to keep the environment clean, and no litter was evident.

Alley Primary was a beautiful school, clean, well-fruited, pretty flowers - a sea of calla lilies and a garden fountain. Thanks to the late former principal, Mr Griffiths, and his team; he was a great environmentalist.

Other teachers who impacted my life positively but have since passed include the late Mrs Wiltshire, an arch-disciplinarian and educator, and the late Mrs Young of Denbigh Primary, a great elocutionist and motivator.

Let me conclude the list of my fantastic teachers by honouring those still living, namely, Mrs Ramdial, jovial, yet strict; and Ms Douglas. The latter eliminated my fear of mathematics and had me learn the multiplication tables in record time after punishment.

Goodbye, Mrs Patrick, and condolences to the family, especially Robert and Rose, my former schoolmates. You have changed countless lives and helped to shape Jamaica and the diaspora's human and intellectual capital. Thank you.

To the teachers of Jamaica, I implore you, in the face of adversity, to give of your best and love the nation's children.