Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
LINSTEAD, St Catherine:
SO PASSIONATE is Veronica Allen about teaching that even after retiring six years ago, she remains in the classroom full time. But the grade-six teacher at Trinity Preparatory school in Linstead, St Catherine said teaching was never her first love.
"I wanted to become a postmistress, because one of my aunts was a postmistress," Allen, shared with The Gleaner from her home at New Works Housing Scheme, North West, St Catherine.
Nevertheless, acting on a suggestion by one of her teachers at Edwin Allen High School, Clarendon, she became a probationer at Long Look Primary School in Clarendon doing a three year stint.
In 1971, she matriculated to Church Teachers' College in Manchester. Having done her internship at Gregory Park Primary School in St Catherine, she returned to teach at the institution for one year.
Three years later, the easy-going Clarendonian tied the knot with Carol Allen whom she met while he was an intern at Long Look Primary School.
Allen and her husband relocated to Westmoreland where he assumed the role of principal at Lambs River Primary and she taught there until 1979.
"We then went to Carron Hall Primary in St Mary where my husband took up the position of principal and I served as a teacher until 1983," Allen explained.
She served Rosemount Primary and Junior High School for 23 years before she retired as vice-principal in 2006.
"I taught grade six for 14 years at Rosemount and that was a scholarship class and when the GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) results were published, I was one of the happiest persons. What stands out in my mind is when my students succeed, those were my happiest moments," she recalled.
While acknowledging that she faced several challenges in the education system, she said, "but as an inspired teacher who wants to go further, I rose to the challenges."
Rachel Stanbury, a 10-year-old student at Trinity Preparatory School is confident that under Allen's tutelage, she will gain a place at St Andrew High School for Girls in the 2013 Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), as she charts a path to becoming a lawyer.
"My teacher is kind and loving. She explains the work so that we can understand it. She does activities that help us to understand the work easier and I know that she will help me to do well in GSAT," she told The Gleaner.
For many like Evonne Mundell, Allen who worships at the Holy Trinity Church in Linstead is a mother, a teacher, a friend and a confidante.
"She is a very nice person. From time to time, if the children had any problems from school, she would take them and help with whatever problems they were having. We share flowers, everything," Mundell said laughing.
The 66-year-old lost her husband who rose to the rank of education officer in the Ministry of Education 19 years ago. She has no biological children but has mothered many.
The meticulous educator has been rewarded with several accolades for her unstinting service to the profession. Among them, the Golden Torch Award for 37 years of dedicated service to the field of education from the Ministry of Education. She was also recognised by Robert Pickersgill, Member of Parliament, North West St Catherine as well as Rosemount Primary and Junior High school.