Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Educator extraordinaire Henrietta Stewart to retire from Vere Tech

Published:Thursday | April 7, 2016 | 4:00 AMShanique Samuels
PHOTO BY SHANIQUE SAMUELS Dr Henrietta Stewart speaks of her longstanding love affair with education.

VERE, Clarendon:

The title of 'Educator extraordinaire' could easily be bestowed on Dr Henrietta Stewart for her stellar contribution to education, and after 41 years of unbroken service, it will be only fitting.

At the end of August this year, she will relinquish her post as principal of the Vere Technical High School because she would have reached the age of retirement.

"I will be retiring this year and I'm really looking forward to it. I love my job and I'd want to stay some time longer with Vere, but I feel that I need a new challenge and I think I've taken the school to a level where someone else can take it from and make it better.

"When you get to 60, you are required by the Ministry of Education to retire, so I will graciously take my leave," she said.

Initially, she wanted to become a medical doctor, but soon changed her mind. "I taught math at evening school at 17 years old. Then I realised it was cheaper to go into teaching because my parents couldn't afford to send me to train to be a doctor," Stewart told Rural Xpress.

She entered the classroom at Kellits Secondary School at 17 years old as a pre-trained teacher, fresh out of high school, before going on to teachers' college, where she gained a certificate. "I did math and science and copped top awards for excellence when I was leaving college. I did so well that I got a scholarship, but my husband proposed so I gave up the scholarship to be married instead, but I don't regret making that decision."

TOOK OVER THE REINS

She then taught math at Glenmuir High for 15 years and was a senior teacher up to the time of leaving.

The next leg of her journey took her to the Mineral Heights Primary School as principal. "My experience at Mineral Heights was very rewarding. If I was to compare, I would say it's the most rewarding part of my sojourn."

Stewart's vision for Mineral Heights Primary transformed it into the top-performing primary school in the parish. "After 11 years, I think I have done justice to that school, considering where I've gotten it and what I brought it to," she added.

In September 2004, Stewart left Mineral Heights and took over the reins as principal at Vere Technical High. "Making the transition from primary to high school as principal was a new challenge for me and I embraced it because I love being challenged," she told Rural Xpress.

"The experience at Vere has been a real uphill task. There are days of joy and then there are days of sorrow, but thank God, through it all I've learnt to trust God more and He has been more than good to me because He brought me through so that I could have gotten to this stage."

The proud principal boasted that Vere is now a highly competitive school in Clarendon. "I think this school has a lot of great facilities in place for students. We have implemented more technical and vocational areas and we have great teachers too," she said.

During her teaching career, she managed to raise a family and studied at intervals on scholarships until she gained her PhD in Educational Leadership at Florida A&M University.

"I love my family. You have to value relationship over everything else because family is important. I am blessed with three children who have all done well, but it's time to move on to a new challenge," she said.

rural@gleanerjm.com