African teacher among three honoured by St Ann Homecoming Foundation
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
IN A MONTH in which Jamaica honoured its rich African heritage, the parish of St Ann fittingly paid tribute to a man from the continent whose tremendous contribution to Jamaica has shown no bounds.
Ever since he arrived from Nigeria in 1995 and landed a job at Ferncourt High School in Claremont, St Ann, teacher and minister of religion, Ugochukwu Durueke, has been making his mark on the community.
Recently, Durueke, along with businessman Cecil Simmonds and the Bank of Nova Scotia St Ann's Bay branch, were honoured by the St Ann Homecoming and Heritage Foundation for their contribution to the parish of St Ann.
"I feel elated. It always pays when one's contributions are recognised," Durueke told The Gleaner after the ceremony.
Durueke, a minister at Faith Tabernacle Apostolic Church in Claremont, teaches English and social studies at Ferncourt. But he also teaches adults and children for free outside of regular school hours.
"I teach a number of subjects to the youth, teenagers, and those who are adults also," he explained. "Some of these individuals drop out of school, some of them have nobody motivating them, so I have them in class, encourage them to do the academics, the SBAs (school-based assessments), and then pray with them, and they pass their exams."
He added: "In addition to this, I am also a minister of religion, so I work in the church and in the community, counselling, supporting people, praying with them, and doing evangelism."
One of Durueke's success stories was revealed in the citation that was read by Herbert Murdock, chairman of the foundation. It read:
"Acutely aware of the pressing educational needs of members of the Claremont community, for several years, he has held free Saturday and Sunday classes in various subjects for scores of adults in the Claremont area and has been rewarded with remarkable student success.
"As a result of his effective tutelage and mentorship, one former student, a bartender, was recognised for earning the highest CXC social studies grade in Jamaica in 2004. She is now a graduate teacher at Ferncourt High School. Another was similarly recognised in 2006."
Durueke writes extensively on issues affecting the nation, with several of his letters having been published in The Gleaner. On March 20, 2012, his letter calling for the reassessment of the GSAT was published as the Letter of the Day, so, too, one on April 4, when he called for measures to prevent fires.
Another honouree, businessman Cecil Simmonds, was awarded for his contribution to the economy of St Ann and to education.
Simmonds opened the first of several business enterprises in 1967 when he opened Lydford Hardware and Building Supplies.
Over the years, he has not only shared his expertise with others, but also his wealth. Simmonds, a justice of the peace since 1997, has funded school fees and provided clothing for scores of children in the parish and has sponsored numerous schools, churches, youth and sports clubs.
Scotiabank St Ann's Bay, which last year celebrated its centenary, was recognised for its contribution to early childhood education. Among the schools to have benefited from the bank's branch are Bethel and Golden Spring basic schools, both of which the bank has adopted.