Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Dubai excites, homecoming disappoints - Teacher peeved by local response after she misses out on US$1m bounty

Published:Sunday | March 26, 2017 | 3:00 AMRyon Jones
Jamaica’s Tracy-Ann Hall (fourth right) with the other finalists at the 2017 Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Awards in Dubai recently.
Tracy-Ann Hall inside her workshop at Jonathan Grant High School.
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She might not have won the US$1 million on offer by the Varkey Foundation, but Tracy-Ann Hall returned from Dubai feeling every inch a winner.

"The way I look at it is there were 10 of us in the competition and one had to win. And if I had won I would have wanted everybody else's support," Hall told The Sunday Gleaner after missing out on the 2017 Varkey Foundation Global Teacher prize, which was won by Maggie MacDonnell who lives and works in Salluit, an Inuit village deep in the Canadian Arctic so remote it is accessible only by air.

"So somebody else won and we all gave her our support. She deserved the prize just like any other contestant would have," added Hall, one of the 10 finalists out of 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries.

big plans

The 42-year-old said the experience served to motivate her even more, as she has big plans for the automotive class which she teaches at the St Catherine-based Jonathan Grant High School.

"It is a tremendous accomplishment and I am really honoured to have been selected," said Hall.

"There is one thing I intend to do, which is to Skype with some of the other contestants and their class, so that our students can understand other cultures and know that there is more to the world than just Jamaica."

Despite being very pleased with her achievement, Hall is a little disappointed with the recognition she has received in Jamaica in light of the reports she has been getting from the other finalists.

"The other teachers sent me pictures of their welcome-back parade and all of that, but I didn't see any of that when I got back home," said Hall.

"They are asking me to send them pictures of my welcome home and I have to tell them 'there was none'."

It was quite the opposite when she had landed in Dubai, as Jamaicans there gave her a celebrity welcome.

"There is a group of Jamaican teachers who live in Dubai. I never met any of them before, but five of them came and met me at the airport and then 20 of them took me to dinner, and some Jamaican pilots joined as well, so it was like one big happy family.

"I also got to ride a camel, which was like my dream, and I didn't know if it would ever come true, and it did, so that was awesome."

According to Hall, the publicity the competition has received locally since she was shortlisted could see more Jamaican teachers being nominated going forward.

"I think most Jamaicans weren't aware of the competition, and I think now that it has been highlighted more persons will be nominated and be selected also, because many Jamaican teachers go beyond the call of duty," said Hall.

"The competition highlights teachers who have not just stayed in the classroom to teach but go out and let their students know there is more to learn than just in the classroom," added the teacher who has been shaping the lives of youngsters for the past 17 years.

Late last week, the president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association, Howard Issacs, told our news team that an appropriate celebration for Hall will be planned.

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com