Josephine Gayle: The Mother of all children
When the name Josephine Gayle is mentioned in her circle of friends, associates, family members, co-workers, and past students, the attributes determined, high achiever, selfless, hard-working and devoted are just a few that may be constantly repeated.
Saying that this educator, for the last 37 years, had an impact on the lives of many is an understatement.
It's hard to believe that her aspiration was never to become a teacher as she has taught naturally and effortlessly.
"I really wanted to be a policewoman, but at the time, they said my height would be a problem. Then I said I wanted to be a nurse, and I thought I would have got into the nursing programme, but those days, when I went to West Indies College (now Northern Caribbean University), they were only taking 20 students per year, and I would be 21, but then that couldn't work for them, and they ended up putting me in the primary education programme," said Gayle.
Though she blatantly told administrators that she could not perform in the field, against her wishes, she pursued the course and graduated a trained teacher.
She later gave 27 years to Moravia Primary School and nine years to the Alston Primary and Infant school as principal.
"I love working with the children, and when you see the children whose lives you've touched become well-rounded, worthwhile citizens, you feel good. When I was doing my bachelor's (degree), I had a student in there who I taught in grades three and five. We did our bachelor's (degree) together and we did our master's (degree) together, and he felt so proud that he and his teacher sat in class together to study together," she proudly said.
Gayle added: "Children are darlings and they feel good when you become involved in all aspects of their lives and you go down to their level. I can remember some weekends, we (Brownies) camped out at school and the students were so excited," the educator said.
RETURNED TO THE CLASSROOM
Gayle, who retired from the government system, has returned to the classroom because she feels there is still a lot more that she can give.
"I am now with a little preschool because I don't want to stay home, and I was saying to management that it's not so much the pay, it's just that I need to be out of the house. I had planned to go and volunteer at a basic school three days a week and the Lord said to me, 'Go over to that school. They need help.' And that is where I have been until today, and I'm loving every moment of it," she said.
Voluntarism is nothing new to Gayle as she has spent a significant part of her life in service to others.