Thu | Aug 24, 2017

Corporal Natalee Williams : A hero for many

Published:Thursday | November 24, 2016 | 11:00 AMCarl Gilchrist
Corporal Natalee Williams (centre) with her award from the Ocho Rios High School. She is flanked by Elsworth Gooden, head of Social Studies Department, and Carole Davis Cunningham, social studies teacher.

OCHO RIOS, St Ann:

It might have taken the Ocho Rios High School's social studies department's recognition of the work of Corporal Natalee Williams to drive home the point that she has played a crucial role in the lives of students at the school.

But, truth be told, Williams has been a guiding light to literally hundreds of students from several schools across the parish for many years now.

A lot of students see her as more than just a police officer. To many, she is like a big sister.

It is a call that goes beyond her normal course of duty and she now feels it is her personal responsibility to ensure that students take the right path during their years at school, and beyond.

The award, presented by Elsworth Gooden, head of the social studies department, and teacher Carole Davis Cunningham, came in the form of a plaque, on which was inscribed, in part "With great honour and recognition, we salute you for eight years of loyal and sterling service to the Ocho Rios High School, family, your bravery and strength of character represents that of a true hero. You are our local hero."

It was the second award in just a matter of months, as a similar award was presented to her by Ferncourt High School earlier this year.

"The award was as a result of the many lives I would have touched and changed over the years, working at Ocho Rios High School and the rest of high schools in St Ann," Williams told Rural Xpress.

The impact she created would have been due, in part, to the several programmes she implemented in the schools.

These include the Social Competence programme rolled out at Ferncourt in 2009 because of the many offences students committed at the school.

These students, instead of being suspended or otherwise punished, were placed in this programme and given a chance to redeem themselves.

The debate competition, introduced in 2014 by the St Ann Police Division, is also playing its part in helping to refocus students.

 

Changing atitudes

 

"The ones who are at risk, they can see a way of changing their attitude, changing their lives to now become agents of change themselves," Williams pointed out.

She added: "The debate competition is really about identifying the needy children because what I realise, you have persons out there, corporate Jamaica who are willing to invest in children. You have some children who are really brilliant but they don't have any money, their parents are poor; so what we do is engage stakeholders like Moneague College, which gave us a scholarship in 2014, and they are willing to give us at least three more scholarships."

Persons who do well in mathematics and in the debate competition are the likely recipients of these scholarships.

But there is the one-on-one talk with students that might even be more crucial in helping to shape these youngsters.

"When you can hear people speaking badly about police daily, I can't speak of that experience. This is because of the youth that I am always encouraging and always going out there to help." said Williams, who has served the Jamaica Constabulary Force for 16 years.

rural@gleanerjm.com