Merril Rodney always a servant
Merril Rodney has always been active in church and school, serving on many committees and associations within the Hayes community in Clarendon. Born and raised in Hayes, she has lived there all her life and has devoted herself to positively moulding and shaping young minds while at the Hayes Primary and Junior High School, where she taught for more than 30 years. She is a long-time member of the St James' Anglican Church in Hayes, where she is also actively involved.
"At one stage, I was the Deanery Council representative at my church, after that I became the lay representative to Synod. I'm now the secretary for the church committee and I also help with the Anglican youth committee."
Having been baptised as an infant in the church, Rodney has been confirmed for more than 47 years.
Being in the church for so many years, she said she has noticed that not all young people want to go to church, and even when she reaches out to them, they only visit for a while and then stop.
"They say they need to enjoy their lives, but we always tell them that a life lived outside of Christ is wasted. I think some of them are living in hopelessness because after leaving school, many can't find a job, so they fall into poverty because the politicians fail to adequately provide the social amenities they need to at least try to better their lives, so mentorship is a very important part of capturing young people and keeping them in church. We have to try to mentor them so they can become worthwhile," she told Rural Xpress.
Father Winston Thomas, rector of the St Gabriel's Anglican Church in May Pen and archdeacon for the Mandeville region, has known Rodney for 22 years.
"She is also good at motivating persons to help out and do things in the church. She did well at the Hayes School, where she taught for a long time. She is a valuable member of the church movement," he said of her.
Rodney was also very active in school life. She was book rental coordinator, and was also in charge of the nutrition programme. She served on the Vere District Association and the Jamaica Teachers' Association in Clarendon.
She has also served on the Jamalco Refinery Council, but has given that up to make way for younger people to also give of themselves and play their part in community development.
She served as vice-principal for the last three years up to her retirement in 2014.
Now retired, she works in her backyard garden and still volunteers where she can. She attends Bible study and Anglican youth fellowship at church weekly.
Rodney has received several awards, including the JTA's Golden Torch Award for more than 30 years in the teaching profession, and others from the school in recognition of her contribution to the education sector.
As a teacher who has served in the
public-education system, she has always warned parents to look out for their children's best interest. "I always tell them it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men, and don't worry that your children are not listening to you, worry that they are watching you."