Caretaker with a dream
Michael White was the caretaker at Maggotty High School in St Elizabeth.
Before that, he was a security guard; today, he is the lab technician at the St Elizabeth-based high school.
White's story came to the fore during an event at Munro College where the Ministry of Education singled out special performances in the field.
Schools were recognised for excellence in a number of areas, including pedagogy, technology, curricula content and material, excellence in leadership and governance, human resources and accountability, safety and security, health, nutrition, guidance counselling and emotional support for persons in the education system.
"It showed excellent human resource development and a quest, by the institution, to develop the human capacity," said Vincent Guthrie, director at the Ministry of Education.
Guthrie was referring, of course, to Maggotty's faith in developing whatever talent lay dormant in White.
No matter what Maggotty did, there must have been so much more that White had to do for himself though, and a chat with him revealed just that.
"There are some classes that are large, and so they would call on me to take extra chairs along for them. I took the chairs in, and I sat in the class and listened to what the teachers were teaching. I had my notebooks, and I took notes," he said.
White passed social studies at the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) level three years after he started as caretaker at the school in 1996 and did the same with three other subjects by 2003.
"Don't look at what is around you, and limit yourself to it. You have to look outside, and if you can, find a role model, set some goals and take them on one by one," said White, now a certified systems administrator, through the e-Learning project.
"Mr White had the ambition and the motive to achieve. Many people would see the position of a groundsman as a demeaning job, but he worked himself to become a teacher, that says to us that anything is possible, once you put your mind to it," said Kevon Morgan, a 16-year-old student at Maggotty High.
Information Technology teacher at the school, Claudia Forbes, said White, who, in one year, had 100 per cent success in his information technology (IT) exams, was a marvellous achiever.
"He watched what was done, and he is always learning. He is a living testament that you cannot be too low that you can't rise beyond your circumstances," she emphasised.
Both White and Maggotty's principal, Rawle Bent, heaped praises on the sole IT teacher in the late 1990s, George Miller, for guiding the new lab technician, who teaches computer science to students and persons from the community, and others involved in Maggotty's evening programme.