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Woman power

Crystal Clarke climbs the ladder of success

Published:Sunday | November 3, 2019 | 12:13 AMTamara Bailey - Gleaner Writer
Crystal Clarke
Crystal Clarke

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

It was not until placement in grade four at her primary school that Crystal Clarke began learning, and even though her circumstances were never ideal, she used those adversities as building blocks instead of deterrents to her dreams.

From failing her Common Entrance Exams to depending on the earnings of her mother who did domestic jobs to help her secure a good education, Clarke is a proud educator currently completing her master’s degree and looking forward to transforming the lives of students.

“Life growing up was difficult. I was born and raised in Kingston, where I lived with my mom and siblings before moving to live with my aunt in Mandeville. At age eight, I attended Bethabara All-Age and walked every morning to school as it was near the community where I lived. I was not successful in my Common Entrance, but a teacher got me into May Day High School”

Successful in only three of the five CXC subjects (now CSEC) she sat, Clarke then moved on to Knox Community College for continuing studies before enrolling in the Catholic College to pursue studies in teacher education.


Clarke said she not only received a diploma in teaching and learning, but also learned numerous life lessons.

“There were days when I went to school with only my fare. I had a big challenge paying my school fees, and I didn’t get a chance to graduate because I had outstanding fees to clear. Later, I got a teaching job at a private school, but I was only earning enough for taxi fare and lunch, so I left and decided to stay home.”

With no money while living in a rented apartment, Clarke found this period extremely challenging, but she soon got a much better job at a public school, where she remains to this day.

“Because of this job, I was able to complete my bachelor’s degree. When I started my master’s degree in 2018, I didn’t know where the fees would come from, but I still didn’t feel discouraged. Throughout this journey, I’ve been blessed with some assistance to offset my fees. Even though it is still difficult, I know everything will work out.”

Having missed out on some mommy-daughter time with her 13-year-old, Clarke said she is now learning to manage her time better so that all her priorities are tended to.

“There are times when I was assisting with homework, and some of the time I would be doing so and sleeping! Sometimes I don’t even get time to prepare dinner as I have to be doing lesson plans assignment along with house chores. But I know a balance needs to be struck.

“I enjoy going to the beach and meeting people because I am a people person. Family time is also very important to me, especially on holidays. Family gets my full attention.”

Clarke said she hopes to write a book and share her struggles and victories as a means of empowering and encouraging others to do the same.