Make the children your priority – Retiring educators
TWO SENIOR OFFICIALS have proceeded on pre-retirement leave, each after giving almost 40 years of service to the education sector.
Beverly Neptune, the chief education officer and Morine Williams, the permanent secretary took some time this week to share with SEARCHLIGHT about their time in the service and their plans for retirement.
“The mandate of the Ministry of Education is wide, the job comes with its challenges but I must say that team work gets the job done. I hope that as a team we were a source of insight and direction for our stakeholders,” Neptune said on Wednesday.
Neptune began teaching in 1980 at the age of 17 and has worked as an itinerant teacher with students with special needs who were in mainstream classes
in the Georgetown Government School, Langley Park Government School and Dickson Government School.
She has also served as acting principal at the School for Children with Special Needs.
The chief education officer also served as a guidance counsellor at the CW Prescod Primary School, where she said she was able to “give of my most rewarding years in the service as the students were very much at risk. I helped them navigate social and academic challenges, while adding value to their lives; they in turn taught me lessons of humility compassion and care”.
Prior to being appointed chief education officer two years ago, Neptune held posts the deputy chief education officer and education officer with responsibility for Health and Family Life Education.
While speaking at a retirement ceremony for a retired senior education officer last year, Neptune said that retirement should not be a time for one to rest on his or her laurels but rather to take the opportunity to learn new things.
And she plans on doing exactly that as she told SEARCHLIGHT that she intends to learn to play a musical instrument, something she did not have time to do. The educator also plans to spend her time catching up on reading and exploring the Grenadine Islands.
She added that she has also made a commitment to give some of her time to helping build the Byera Community, where she grew up.
“I hope to continue to be a role model, using my unique life experiences and skills set to continue the educational process in different settings. Specifically, I have an interest in returning to the classroom maybe at the level of the Community College or university, given my background in special education curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment,” she said.
She described her time in the education sector as rewarding and expressed thanks to the government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines for giving her the opportunity to serve at various levels.
After 37 years in the field of teaching, Morine Williams’ starting plan for retirement is to get some much needed rest.
Williams was appointed as a teacher in St Vincent and the Grenadines on October 1, 1982. Before that, she attended the Teachers College and taught in Jamaica for a short time.
She received further training in 1996 and became a reading specialist and she has served in a headteacher capacity at the Richmond Hill Government School, Evesham Methodist School and Kingstown Preparatory School.
She holds a Bachelors of Education degree in Educational Administration and a Masters of Arts in Education.
The permanent secretary has also worked in the Curriculum Unit and she was a senior education officer before being appointed as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Labour.
After a few months in that position, she returned to Education as the permanent Secretary in 2015.
To the educators still a part of the system, both Williams and Neptune believe that focus should be given to the children.
“My advice will be always to keep as your highest priority the ease of children; ensuring that they are properly cared for, properly taught, the learning environment is fun. They should want to come to your class everyday,” Williams said.
She explained that in doing so, teachers can influence parents to engage in dialogue which can result in teachers being able to offer advice on how to help children.
“Basically, I think we have too much of an adversarial relationship of teachers and students – some that is – but if there is a more congenial environment that encourages children to learn and you see them achieve under your hand,” she said.
And Neptune urged teachers to continue improving on what they do in the classroom.
“Teaching is challenging emotionally /mentally, physically, etc but it is also a most rewarding vocation… do not stifle children’ s creativity but learn to support it…to the more experienced teachers…please become mentors to those young teachers who are willing and open to learn,” she said.