Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
MARLIE MOUNT, St Catherine:MINISTER OF Finance Dr Peter Phillips and his counterpart, Audley Shaw, are members of different political parties and often have different views on a number of issues, but they have one thing in common: They were taught by Cynthia Adassa Johnson-Foster, who hails from Colleyville, Manchester, and who now lives in Marlie Mount, St Catherine.
"When I heard Audley's voice, I said, 'There goes my student.' I taught him in grade three at Middlesex Elementary in Christiana, and I did practice teaching at Moneague Primary School, and Peter was in my class," she told Rural Xpress.
The 81-year-old moulded hundreds of lives during her 41 years of service to the field of education.
"From before I even started teaching, I used to have my little grass straws plaiting and teaching. Teaching has always been part of me," she reflected.
The third of four children born to Edgar, a carpenter who also did farming, and Janet Johnson, a housewife who sold baked products, Johnson-Foster developed a passion for the profession from a very early age.
"There were so many children around me that I said I wanted to do something to help these children - children of my own family, other people's children - and so I developed a love for teaching from I was a little girl," she said.
So Johnson-Foster worked as a pre-trained teacher at the Middlesex Elementary School in 1955. Then she moved on to the Warsop All-Age School in Trelawny before she matriculated into Moneague Teachers' College in St Ann, where she was among the second batch of trainees.
Johnson-Foster's sojourn in her profession also took her to Craig Head All-Age in Manchester, Lowe River All-Age School in Trelawny, and Sanguinetti All-Age School in Clarendon.
After she retired as principal of Bohemia All-Age in St Ann in 1996, she relocated to Marlie Mount in St Catherine with her husband, Sylvester.
"When I came here, I taught at a little school for a while, but I gave that up," said Johnson-Foster.
She was also integrally involved in community activities in her earlier years and has been recognised for her contribution to the field of education.
quiet, kind, and hard working
Gloria Angella Robinson, justice of the peace, has known Johnson-Foster for more than 10 years.
"She is a quiet, kind, and hardworking woman. She treats the children very well and also people, on the whole," she said.
Nowadays, Johnson-Foster, who was a lay preacher at the St Dorothy's Anglican Church in Old Harbour, St Catherine, enjoys reading and crocheting.
"People come and they want help. They talk and ask for recommendations, and things like that, and I write it for them. I don't have a helper, so I do my work little by little. That's how I spend my days now," she explained.
The soft-spoken senior said she has always had a passion for helping people, especially the less fortunate.
"If I had the chance to change anything in my life, I wouldn't because I helped a lot of people, and anything they wanted, I would try to provide, and I am glad I did," she said with satisfaction.