Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Honour Award: The Rev Glen Archer, OD: Special Award For Education

Published:Wednesday | January 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Consistently championing youth to greater heights

  • Rev Archer has been involved in spelling contests from his childhood days at Harbour View Primary, where he became champion boy for St. Andrew in 1965.  He then placed sixth in the Gleaner's children 's Own Spelling Bee.
  • A trained pastor with an honours degree from the Jamaica Theological Seminary, Archer is also a teacher at Ardenne High School, where he joined the staff in 1978.  He has guided the school to three of its four titles in Television Jamaica's School Challenge Quiz, and the team has only laced below the quarter-finals once since 1992.
  • Archer has also  achieved success in sports, as he was manager of Ardenne's football team for 10 years culminating in 1991, when the school gained its only lien on the prestigious Manning Cup and later that year, the Oliver Shield.

A great coach should be an exceptional leader who has the ability to unify a group of players and make them committed to a single purpose.

It can't be easy grooming young minds and keeping them focused on a specific task. However, the number speaks for itself. 25 national champions! That's the measure of the man - educator and spelling bee coach the Reverend Glen Archer.

A demanding and meticulous coach, Archer has been preparing students for the gruelling Gleaner's Children's Own National Spelling Bee competition since 1986. He is known for promoting excellence and his ability to encourage hard work and a healthy competitive spirit in young Jamaicans. Like many other coaches, he has found a formula to get the best out of young people.

He has taken his programme up a notch each year; even summarising the Oxford 3,650-page dictionary down to 60 pages. Archer also continues to sow the seeds that have reaped numerous champions with the motivation to help students as a driving force.

historic scripps victory

Dubbed as 'Coach Midas', one of his most outstanding achievements was in 1998 when he coached Jody-Anne Maxwell to a historic victory in the prestigious international Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee (now the Scripps National Spelling Bee) in the United States. Maxwell won the coveted trophy from nearly 300 competitors.

His recent success story was with Tajuan Gibbison, a student at the Knox College in Clarendon, who won The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee competition in February 2014. Gibbison then finished 10th out of 281 spellers at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, in late May.

Archer is guided by the principles of hard work and continues to confound spellmasters. For the master himself, it must be a balancing act to identify the speller's strength and encourage them to use it to their advantage.

For his continuous hard work in guiding and challenging young minds to be all that they can be, The Gleaner Company is proud to present Reverend Glen Archer with The Gleaner Special Honour Award for outstanding service to Education in 2014.

Archer according to 'The Bees'


2008 National Spelling Bee Champion Sade Dunbar is grateful to coach Reverend Glen Archer for the life lessons she garnered during her training, noting that her life has changed tremendously since the experience.

"Reverend Archer was like a father to me. He provided the right environment for his students to learn and I gathered a lot from the whole experience," she said.

"For him, it was not about learning words only but he ensured that the whole man was catered to. He has impacted my life positively. I was taught time management, among other life skills that I am finding very useful now as an adult, and for that I am really grateful."

The 19-year-old, who is now a medical student at the University of the West Indies, stated that Archer has never lost his common touch.

"We have a very good relationship to this day, and this shows his ability to connect with everybody, no matter where you are in life," she declared.


His ability to manage his time wisely and think critically are life skills Hanif Brown credits to Reverend Glen Archer.

The 17-year-old, who was the National Spelling Bee Champion for 2011, said his encounter with Archer was a life-changing experience.

"The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Mr Archer would certainly be discipline. A simple thing as biting your nails during training or being inappropriately dressed were issues he took very seriously, but it was for our good," declared the fifth-form student at Ardenne High School, in St Andrew.

"For him, it was not only about learning words, but he catered to the whole person. He taught us how to conduct ourselves when we meet dignitaries and other high-ranking persons, and we knew how to think critically," Brown shared.

Noting that the spelling bee coach has a far-reaching impact on several young persons, he added, "His reach goes beyond national champions; he has impacted many lives, both on the big and the small stage."


At some points during his training, Gifton Wright, the 2012 National Spelling Bee Champion, thought Reverend Glen Archer was too strict.

Today, he is thanking him for the significant life lessons he has learnt, noting that the experience has made him who he is now.

"Working with Mr Archer was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but guess what, it was worth it," he declared.

"It was very tedious sometimes but I have realised that this man knows what he is doing and he made me into a champion," said the Kingston College student.

Wright added, "There was one thing he always said, which is, it is either 'bitter or better', and what he was trying to teach us is that whatever you do in life will produce one of those results (bitter or better), so he always implored us to make the best of every experience."

He also said he was introduced to the "cool side" of the spelling bee guru.

"Many people might not know that this man is very down to earth. Though he is a disciplinarian, you can always depend on him for a good laugh and wholesome conversations," Wright said.