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Footprints: Dr Thelma Stewart - A nationbuilder who impacted Jamaica

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Thelma Stewart

A nationbuilder who impacted Jamaica

Persons from Frankfield, Clarendon can boast that the community has produced one of the greatest stalwarts in education that Jamaica has ever seen.

The mention of the name Thelma Stewart will elicit smiles, a sense of pride, feelings of awe, and waves of gratitude in those who have known her and her generous contribution to nation building through her work. Her rich legacy of determination, commitment and dedication will continue to positively impact Jamaicans, persons within the Caribbean Diaspora and the global community for decades.

Early in her life, she recognised that education was the key to success, especially for those from humble beginnings.

Armed with determination to climb the ladder of success she fervently began her quest.

Dr Thelma Stewart blazed a trail of excellence from her elementary school days, through to Bethlehem Moravian College, Pratt Institute of Technology, Columbia University in New York, then Walden College where she earned her doctorate. Her zest for knowledge was not propelled only by her individual desire to be successful but also by the unselfish motivation to improve the social and economic situation for others through education.

She applied the knowledge and skills she gained to improve the lives of colleagues and students in several schools across Jamaica where she worked. She was known for her insightfulness, positive attitude to work and her willingness to share. Her emphasis on collaboration, which would see each person helping others to reach their full potential was one of her hallmarks. She made it a priority to ensure that her siblings embrace the value of education and financed their educational journey where necessary. Her involvement in education extended beyond the classroom as she moved within the ranks of the Ministry of Education to eventually become a senior chief education officer.

Thelma Stewart's sphere of influence and dedication continues to make meaningful impact as she was one of the pioneers of the internationally recognised Caribbean Examination Council's executive members. She has written textbooks for Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects, The Family Life Education programme, and about caring for the elderly. Her invaluable contributions on the various committees on which she served continue to enrich lives. Her legacy lives on.