SVGTU holds recognition ceremony for retired educators
Ten retired educators who together served for more than 350 years developing the nation’s youth, were recognised in a ceremony hosted by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teacher’s Union (SVGTU) last Tuesday.
Sheldon Govia, St Clair Cox, Vincent Benjamin, Thea Rodgers-Jack, Kenneth Burgin, Leonora David-Sam, Bertina Sandy, Janice Mitchel, Julian O’Garro and Gregory Marshall have all been presented with shiny red awards for their dedication to the profession and to the SVGTU.
The ceremony was held at the headquarters of the SVG Teachers’ Credit Union on the evening of November 12 and was the third of multiple activities slated to happen between November 10 and 16 as part of the SVGTU’s Teachers’ Solidarity week.
Prior to last Tuesday, the 10 branches of the SVGTU (North Windward, Central Windward, South Windward, East Kingstown, West Kingstown, South Leeward, North Leeward, Northern Grenadines, Southern Grenadines, Marriaqua) were given the task of submitting one name each after much deliberation. The nominee for the award was required to be a stalwart of the Union, notable in their branch, and someone who had great impact on the children they governed.
President of the SVGTU, Wendy Bynoe, speaking at the ceremony, commented that “this to me is perhaps the most significant activity that we host as part of Teachers’ Solidarity week,” wherein teachers pause to applaud the achievements of their own.
“These are our colleagues, these are our stalwarts who have given most of their adult lives in the service of this noble profession, in the service of SVGTU,” Bynoe informed, noting that the Union would like to congratulate them on reaching retirement.
“I think as educators we can all agree that the journey to this stage was not easy. After all teaching is quite a challenging profession and to successfully make it to this stage is worthy of all commendations,” the President stated.
All 10 educators gave of themselves in some capacity to the SVGTU over the years, she noted, saying that it is because of their contribution that the Union stands strong today.
The representative to speak on behalf of the awardees was Sheldon Govia, who started teaching in October of 1978. Govia began as a pupil teacher at the Union Methodist School/New Grounds Primary School, and worked there for 39 years, with the last 10 of these years as the Principal of the school.
Govia thanked the branch executive and the national executive for their initiative. He said that although persons may listen to eulogies at funerals “the dead person never hear a single thing.”
“We are pleased that we are here, we are alive, and we can hear, we can reflect…not just the honourees, but those who are present here to reflect on some of the good things that each and every one of us has contributed to our community and to St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union,” the educator stated.
He expressed his hope that the SVGTU will continue to honour its members.
The North Windward branch nominated St Clair Cox, who began his teaching career at the Georgetown Primary School on October 9, 1972. He joined the Union in 1973 and participated in the 1975 strike and march which the police forcefully stopped, using teargas.
Awardee Benjamin from the South Windward branch taught for 39 years at the Carapan Primary School, the Carapan Secondary School, the Stubbs Primary School and the Argyle RC School.
Jack-Rodgers served for 36 years, beginning her teaching journey at the Union Methodist School but spending most of her years at the Evesham Methodist School. Although she vowed she wouldn’t join a trade union after witnessing the teargassing in 1975, after she became a teacher she became an active member of the Union, even recruiting new members.
David-Sam taught for over 35 years before retiring. Her career saw her heading classrooms at the Kingstown Methodist School, the novel New Kingstown Primary School which later became the CW Prescod Primary, and finally the Kingstown Preparatory School.
From the year 1973 Sandy spent her all her teaching years educating young minds at the Canouan Primary School, where she also spent 20 years as the Principal.
Mitchel began teaching in 1971 at the Paget Farm Government School, and was then transferred to the Bequia Anglican Primary School in 1974. Although being released as a result of becoming pregnant on the job, she was rehired as a student teacher, and spent a decade in this position before being promoted.
Burgin spent around 39 years in education, beginning at the Lodge Village Government School in 1977, then the CW Prescod Primary School 20 years later. After 13 more years he served as Principal of the Kingstown Anglican School for six years.
Marshall started his teaching journey in 1970, at the Bishop’s College Kingstown. After a stint in the civil service, he returned to teaching in 1987, where he stayed until his retirement in 2011.
Similarly, O’Garro began teaching at the Rose Hall Government School in 1970, where he spent four years. He then taught at the Chateaubelair Methodist School for one year, and for 34 years at the Westwood Methodist School.