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Iona High School lauds music teacher

Published:Thursday | December 17, 2015 | 12:00 AMOrantes Moore
Students of Iona High School in St Mary show off their medals and cheque after placing second in TVJ's 'All Together Sing' competition.


Students at Iona High in St Mary have praised their music teacher for helping the school choir reach the finals of TVJ's 'All Together Sing' competition.

Following a thrilling grand finale, which was broadcast last Sunday, Iona's choir collected prize money totalling $150,000 and smartphones for each contestant, after finishing in second place behind winners Manchester High School.

Although their reality TV success was very much a team effort, choir members Trey Chambers and Britni Tracey both credit music science teacher Ricardo Murphy as a primary source of inspiration.

Speaking on the grounds of Iona High earlier this week, Chambers told Rural Xpress: "Our director, Mr Murphy, gave us everything we needed to go through the rounds; from motivational speeches to love and respect. He gave us that push and was really very supportive."

Tracey added: "He helped us do our best through all of our performances, which turned out to be amazing; and if that were false, we would not have been placed second."

zeal and dedication

Similarly, Iona's principal, Melva Humes-Johnson, commended the educator for his zeal and dedication. She said: "Mr Murphy was at the forefront of everything, garnering support from both the student and staff communities.

"He really works hard, and when he comes with ideas, you can't help but support him. The competition was great for us because we had a set of students who were malleable and willing to work towards our vision."

Having taught at Iona for the past five years, Murphy has gained considerable experience working with young people, and believes persistence is the key factor that ultimately endears them to him.

He explained: "When you're dealing with students and children, never give up. Patience is very important because you cannot be hard and fast. You have to give a little every now and then, and let them engage in the learning process by sometimes allowing them to do their own thing, before you attempt to teach them formally.

"Sometimes you have to give them their experience; let them tell you what they know and like. You'll achieve a lot of success that way because you're both engaged, so there is a cooperative thing taking place."

inspirational catalyst

Throughout the 12-week televised talent contest, Iona were regarded as underdogs who one judge labelled as "donkeys in a horse race". However, Humes-Johnson claims that rather than disheartening her students, the negative comments acted as an inspirational catalyst.

"That motivated us," she explained. "When one or two of my students took umbrage to what was said, I told them this is where we prove that donkeys are blessed animals that carried the Lord Jesus Christ, and so we must have been chosen and blessed (laughs)."

Murphy is grateful for the unyielding support of his wife, Doraine, and believes the school can achieve bigger and better things in 2016. He said: "You can expect a lot of great things from this institution next year; I am already focusing my attention on and evaluating what I need the children to do to get them to the highest level."

Tracey agreed. She said: "Some us won't be here in 2016, but I believe the choir can go on, and if others follow in our footsteps, we can join the competition again and perhaps even win."