Rasbert Turner, Gleaner Writer
Homestead principal recalls humbling journey to a better life
Being the principal of Homestead Primary School in St Catherine has been a humbling experience for Pastor Everton Thomas because of the trek which led him to his current role.
"I have come full circle. I became a survivor of the streets after my mother died at age nine," Thomas said.
The Homestead principal said his mother's death put his life in a tailspin and resulted in him "taking to the road" with others in order to survive.
"There was a time when I was on the side which would take things from other people but, thanks to God, that has changed," he said.
"I was in a gang, but even after I left the gang, I was still carrying out robberies," he recalled while sitting at his desk.
Thomas, who now lives in Ensom City, said while he was caught up in a wayward life, his grandmother, who still cared for him dearly, gave him advice.
"I was told that the best way forward was to leave St Catherine, so I decided it was either life or death. So, I listened to her," Thomas continued.
He told The Gleaner that his change started when he started out at the Elim Agricultural School in St Elizabeth, where he earned a certificate.
"I realised that education is my ticket, so I went to the College of Agriculture, Science and Education. I (then) got a teaching diploma at Shortwood Teachers' College," Thomas said.
He added that he was now writing his thesis for his master's degree in education at The Mico University College.
Thomas said he was happy to know that having been a product of the neighbouring Tawes Pen, he can now represent hope for the possibility of change.
"I feel accomplished to be here in the area where I grew up, and the teachers here are very helpful in helping me to function effectively," he continued.
The school principal, who holds a degree in theology, said he visits his home community regularly and explains to the youth that education and Christ are the way out.
Thomas said that because of his experiences in his upbringing, he now takes the time to make each of the 227 student under his charge recognise they are special.