Grow where you are planted
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
'Grow where you are planted' has been the guiding principle of outstanding Lennon High School past student and current Munro College headmaster, Mark Smith, who uses the simple mantra as a transformative force to remain on top of his game.
The 37-year-old educator, who spent his formative years in St Catherine before relocating to May Pen, Clarendon, explained that while he thrived at Lennon, the high school located in the Mocho mountains was initially far down on his list of school of choice.
However, after numerous unsuccessful attempts to get into one of the so-called top high schools in the parish, Smith eventually settled for Lennon, and the rest is history.
"After moving from Spanish Town to May Pen, I first tried unsuccessfully to enrol at Glenmuir, but the school term was well advanced by then. So I did likewise at Clarendon College. However, sickened by the country bus ride up to Chapelton, I called it quits on my first day," Smith said.
He then turned his attention to Vere Technical High School, which also ended in disappointment. "The bauxite caustic mud lake at Hayes was an unbearable experience. It also made me sick," Smith said.
It so happened that a family friend recommended Lennon High to the by then frustrated youngster. And to his relief, his enrolment was successful. To Smith's amazement, he fell in love with the institution on his first day.
"I don't know why, maybe it was a combination of the pristine weather, the thoughtfulness of the teachers, and/or the friendliness of the students, but I fit in smoothly there," he recalled.
"I also believed that my success at Lennon can be directly attributed to my simple mantra ... , that is, to grow where you are planted," Smith said.
He not only grew, but excelled at Lennon with consistent designation as an honouree on the school's honour roll list. A scholar, a persistent debater, member of the school challenge quiz team, head boy and valedictorian.
Smith's mother later migrated to greener pastures but this did not affect his educational development in any adverse way, but instead became the bonfire that propelled him to make the enviable transition from being a past student at Lennon High School to the youngest-ever headmaster at Munro College.
"This is what makes Lennon an exemplary learning institution because while my mom was away, I was more or less adopted by the school's faculty," boasted Smith.
Also a firm believer in affordable state-sponsored education, with a growing concern for the marginalisation of boys, Smith is urging men to make better use of the available educational resources to transform their lives.
"Jamaica need a few good men ... men of dignity, who are willing to stand up and be counted," he urged.