Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
A booming authoritative voice echoing from a small frame is just one description used in reference to Dageanna Spencer-Hull, LASCO Teacher of the Year 2012.
Spencer-Hull, grade-10 supervisor at the eight-year-old Holland High School in Trelawny, is an unassuming individual who is described by her peers as a dynamo.
While accepting the Teacher of the Year award earlier this month, she paid tribute to her recently deceased father, Melbourn.
Spencer-Hull teaches religious education, social studies and sociology.
She grew up in the small rural community of Frankfield in Clarendon, to Melbourn and Eulalee Spencer, both vendors. Her father baked bullas and bread, and made drops and peanut candy for sale.
The spark to teach, she says, was lit early in life while observing teachers at her school, Frankfield Primary.
"I was intrinsically motivated. I watched most of my teachers that I had in school then, and spent most of my time teaching trees and all other objects, which pushed me to want to get into the classroom to work with students," she told The Sunday Gleaner.
From Frankfield Primary, she earned a place at Edwin Allen High School and, after completing high school, the urge to become a teacher burned fiercely within her. However, this 'star' teacher almost did not make it to teachers' college.
"I got through for the Church Teachers' College but there was no money. My parents could not afford it. I went to church one night and a lady who owned a business place sent to call me offering me a job to wash dishes at the cook shop and ice cream parlour, so I went. But she did not make me wash dishes, she asked me to work in the front," she said.
That was in 1999, and Spencer- Hull would later graduate from Church Teachers' College and receive her first teaching job at her alma mater, Edwin Allen, where she taught for two and a half years in a temporary position.
She then took up a teaching position at the Holland High School where she has grown into who she is today.
Secret to success
So how does she do it? How has she become so successful at her chosen profession?
"I would say, get to know your students - build a relationship with your students, so that they will feel comfortable in wanting to share just about anything with you. Get to know the learning styles of your students - take a constructivist approach to learning, where the students are involved, actively engaged in the lessons themselves." she advised.
For her, teaching includes using different modalities to match the learning styles of the students.
"Some students learn through visual (spatial), some are bodily kinesthetic - some are naturalistic, meaning they use up the environment so you take them out on field trips and let them explore the natural environment," she said. "These are some of the approaches I use."
Spencer-Hull's strategies were evident when The Sunday Gleaner visited her social studies class where she was employing the use of a PowerPoint presentation to assist in bringing her lesson across to the students,
"I realise they like music, so I use a lot of music in my class. I get them to write their songs, using the contents of the lesson," Spencer-Hull outlined. "I also use cartoons and movies so it's not all about notes, but I allow the students to make their own pamphlets to bring out the information. I allow them to create their own movie, PowerPoint presentation, use dub poetry, role play and other means of getting the lesson across."
Spencer-Hull, who is married to electrician Leroy, is the mother of two-year-old Nathaniel and enjoys watching comedies, scary movies, as well as reading inspirational books by her favourite author, Joel Osteen.
Senior prefect Ramon Pingue: "When she teaches, we are able to understand her easily. Her methods are very creative and interesting, so we are always interested to learn. She motivates me a lot and she taught me religious education in grade nine and now it is my favourite subject."
Head boy Shamere Morris: "Mrs Hull is not only a human instrument through which we are motivated, but she is someone who has really moulded us to be better human beings, to be better persons for society. She has taught us many things and also helped us to develop leadership qualities. So it goes without saying that she is a remarkable teacher and she deserves the title of Teacher of the Year."
Head girl Mayann Gilzene: "I am so proud of Mrs Hull being at Holland for seven years. I really admire her. She loves us and comes to class with high expectations of us. So I am so proud of her achievement."
Teacher Roxanne Blagrove: "I have found her to be a very genuine person; very loving, kind, full of integrity; one who is consistent in whatever she does. She loves her family, her God and her students. She is a professional extraordinaire."Principal Pauline Reid: "She is very committed and she is not teaching because she has nothing else to do. I know she is teaching because, for her, it is a vocation. It is a call to Christian service. There is absolutely no doubt about that one. She is always making sacrifices for these children. She sacrifices her personal time, even time with her family. Since she has been sending those children for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations, the number of students she enters each year has been growing and, not only that, but every year she gets 100 per cent passes. That is just how she is, she never stops."