Retired teacher continues community service
"You know that when work is in you, you can't afford to sit down. It is embedded in you to be helpful; that is the school system," is the explanation that retired school teacher, Jacinth Clarke of Coxheath in Runaway Bay, St Ann, gave for her continued contributions to her community, six years after retiring.
Clarke, who earned the reputation of being a disciplinarian, retired in 2011 after "37 years, three months, three days" at Hoolebury All-age School in the parish, but continues to be active in several areas of community life.
Her journey began when she entered Moneague College right after high school in 1971. She graduated in 1973 and did her internship at Duncans All-age in Trelawny.
"They were 37 good years because I've turned out a lot of professions, even thieves," she joked.
But would she do it all over again?
"I would go back to college, not to do the bookwork, just to live the life," she said.
Clarke endeared herself to her students and their parents, while initiating several programmes at the school, including a partner plan to encourage students to learn the value of saving.
"I was in charge of the Children's Own, nutritious value, music, gardening, physical education, discipline.
"I gave students in my class three options. If they don't come to school I'm going to let the Government have them at reformatory school and make them lock up the parents. If they're sick, they must be at school. I must see that they are sick and send them back home. If they're hungry, I'll feed them, so they have no excuse."
Needless to say, she achieved a high attendance rate.
Having retired, her connection with the school continues.
"I am retired now, but every year I go back to the school on Teachers' Day to give back,
fÍte the teachers and also the students, and any other thing to be done there I am involved in it," she added.
This willingness to help others has spilled over into her community of Coxheath.
"In my community, we do a lot of work, so having seen the children running up and down I decided to have, every holiday, a treat for them, whether here (at home) or at the common. So, every holiday, it's a fun day in my yard. I rent a Bounce About, treat the children, give them quizzes."
Clarke was also instrumental in starting a clean-up project for the community.
Her contributions have not gone unnoticed over the years and have earned for her recognition from the Jamaica Teachers' Association for her over 30 years of service to education.
She was also recognised by the St Ann Baptist Association for 17 years of service as treasurer and as secretary for the women's group for 35 years.