Sun | Dec 3, 2023

Teacher reconsiders leaving vocation after recognition from Lasco, ministry

Published:Saturday | February 4, 2023 | 1:52 AMSashana Small/Staff Reporter
Jody Brown, teacher from Morant Bay Primary school, smiles brightly while holding the Lasco/Ministry of Education and Youth/Jamaica Teaching Council 2022 Teacher of the Year Award.
Jody Brown, teacher from Morant Bay Primary school, smiles brightly while holding the Lasco/Ministry of Education and Youth/Jamaica Teaching Council 2022 Teacher of the Year Award.

Up to late last year, Jody Brown, a grade five teacher at the Morant Bay Primary School in St Thomas, was considering joining the throng of his colleagues who have left the teaching profession. He told The Gleaner he was discouraged by the “many challenges” he was experiencing, compounded by personal issues.

But on his way home from school one evening, he received news that he was one of the 121 teachers nominated to receive awards from Lasco and the Ministry of Education for their outstanding work in the classroom. This provided the motivation he needed to continue the work he started as sports coordinator and teacher extraordinaire at the rural school.

On Friday, Brown was rewarded with the honour of the 2022 Lasco/Ministry of Education and Youth Teacher of the Year. He told supporters at the ceremony held at The Pegasus hotel that it was an achievement he set his sights on ever since he became a teacher 16 years ago.

Having a passion for community development, Brown put this on display during COVID-19 pandemic when he brought the classroom to children who were unable to tune in online.

For this year, the St Thomas educator, is looking to further his impact by creating a mentorship programme to help at-risk youth in his parish.

“I want to help children who were like me, in a situation that I was when I was growing up – you know you come from a certain type of community, nobody is going to be looking out for you. But you had a teacher who looked out and because of that I am here today because they looked out for me,” he told The Gleaner.

Top honours were also bestowed upon Dwayne Mulgrave, principal of Discovery Bay High School, and Gina Mullings, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) teacher at St Catherine High School.

Describing his job as “heart work”, Mulgrave said the award affirms the progress he has been making during his four years as founding father of the St Ann-based high school.

“We simply need to recognise the work of those who serve in education, give them the motivation to stay. Sometimes it’s not even money, but it’s the other benefits that are given to teachers for their work,” he said.

He shared that the school started in 2019 with only 26 students, but its population has now grown to more than 400 under his stewardship. The principal said he has acquired lands to construct a new building for the school, which he is hoping will be one of the six Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) schools Prime Minister Andrew Holness has committed to establish.

Veteran teacher Mullings has been in the profession for 29 years. Often described by peers as the “go-to” mentor, lead teacher, professional development giant and classroom practitioner, Mullings said she strives to develop herself so she can pour into her students.

“I put in the work, I believe in the abilities of my students, and I believe that by building my capacity through personal and professional development, I can offer maybe more than the average teacher. I am caring, I try to be flexible, and make sure that I update myself with the more current skills,” she said.

Along with their champion trophies, each top awardee received a cash prize of $100,000 gifted on a Lasco Gold Card courtesy of Lasco Money and a variety of gift baskets.

The awardees will also receive an all-expenses-paid opportunity to attend the 2023 Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Conference to be held in Denver, Colorado.