Archive | May, 2014


12 May


“Mommy! Mommy!” Were the words uttered by a high pitched voice as I made my way across the school’s compound in the boiling sun. But of course I didn’t I respond because I didn’t know or even expect someone to be referring to me. I suddenly felt a small pair of arm engulf my waist accompanied by the words: “mommy why you ignoring me? You didn’t hear me calling you”? I turned my head in the direction of the voice and was met with the most radiant smile and full eyes shining bright with excitement. The polite teacher came to the fore and I smiled, return the embrace and explain my ignorance to the title. (All this time while smiling I am saying in my mind: God, why this picney think I’m her mommy)
But, you know what, she is good student, so the pleasantries ended just as they had began as she merrily skipped off to class.

Weeks later, loitering in the school yard with a colleague and I heard the familiar expression “hi mommy” but this time it was not directed at me and it wasn’t my supposedly “daughter”. Another young lady has decided to bestow upon my colleague the title of mommy. As I watched the interaction between the two, I smiled and thought it was an appropriate title.

I believe if the students did not genuinely feel like teachers treated them as their own children, then they would not have had this sense belonging to use such title.

I could outline several stories of how motherly teachers can be but I would not be finished. As I write, the one that jumps out at me was call I received late one night…



It’s 10:30pm.   The loud ring of the phone rudely interrupted the savoring intimate moment  in bed having with one of my scintillating John Grisham book. I uttered unintelligibly sounds (I call them that because no phrase was completed I’m sure) and angrily grabbed the phone. When I look at it I didn’t know the number but I was ready to tell the person on the other end of the line a piece of mind but I was beaten to it. As I pressed the answer button, an irate voice came through:
“miss Reid, you better talk to da picney ya because me naa go put up wid har; it look like stick bruck inna har ears. She nuh seem to listen to nobody but miss, me a tell yuh, it goin be judgement in yah…”
And she went on and on. I listen and when I thought she was finished ranting, I inquired what the problem was, then I connected with the child. I will not go into the details of the incident.

I recalled this to highlight the motherly role teachers play in the lives of their students.
Teachers play multiple roles daily. They are mothers. So much so that some become burnt out and have nothing left for their families. Ever heard the saying that teacher picney (meaning: child) bad? Well one reason (and I’m going out on a limb here) may be that they are so busy during the days nursing & parenting students, there is not much left to give their children when they get home. (Look, I have no empirical data to support this hypothesis so don’t start going kittens about it but… it is something worth considering). It is worth considering because we often do not look at the psychological effect the rigors of teaching may have on teachers. I draw this conclusion based on an assimilation I’m making with another situation. Last August (2013) I analyzed some data for the Child Development Agency (CDA) of Jamaica and the findings showed serious psychological implications on the part of caregivers. A caregiver in one state home facility complained about not wanting to face her kids or deal with them when she gets home in the evenings because of the strain of the day. Now, when I examine the situation, I realized that some of the issues in those state run homes are similar to some in some schools. So I conclude that if these caregivers feel that way then it may be the same for some teachers…anyway let’s get back on track.

The fact is, students are left in the care of teachers each day and it is our duty to do what’s right by them. A friend of mind posted a facebook question recently asking if we were “teachers or cheaters” (thanks for that Alcia Morgan). Teachers do not relinquish the motherly role. Each child is seen as your own. As hard a task it may seem, the students and the biological parents do appreciate it. If you have failed to mother these students, then you are in the category of a cheater.

It may not be a financially rewarding profession but remember, mothers do not get financial reward. The satisfaction of a student coming back to say thanks ( even if it is one out of the hundreds/thousands you have interfaced) is just as rewarding as a biological child being their parents pension..and who knows, one of your students may very well become your pension. I’m just saying…

With teachers day just past, today being mothers day, I want to take the time out to say…Happy mother’s day teachers


When Did Discipline become a Dirty Word or a Forbbiden Act?

1 May

The days when kids were kids

“Friends, Romans, country men, lend me your ears.” That is the opening line of Anthony’s speech in the classic Julius Caesar when he addressed the crowd on behalf of a deceased Julius Caesar. I have not the wit or oracular skill of Anthony to wow you with but nonetheless, I ask for your indulgence. It is one year since the attack. If you want, you could call it an anniversary. Under other circumstances, there would be fanfare & lavish celebration accompanied by smiles & well wishes some from the four corners of the earth but not the case. April 27, 2014 marked one year since the vicious attack on former dean of discipline Gavin Myers of the Aabuthnott Gallimore High School that landed him in the hospital with broken bones and other injuries; One that got national attention and was aired by all major media houses in Jamaica. As with most things in Jamaica, ‘chirpings’ could be heard from every ‘nest’ in every ‘tree’ but only for ‘nine days’. Today, those physical wounds have been healed but I certainly cannot say the same for the psychological & emotional wounds as the ghosts that come with this memory are many and varied. As Myers reflects on the incident he can’t help but feel he was robbed of a part of him that he is waiting to return to normal. The incident is a painful memory he live with daily with a smile…a smile that not only served as a facade for the pain but also one of disbelief & confusion about what really happened. Here is a man. A flawed man, who renders service, yet was inhumanely hurt by those whom he served. The 27th of every month persons look forward to enjoying the joys of their salaries-no matter a small; Mr Myers was robbed of that. Some look forward to spending quality time with their kids; Mr Myers was also robbed of this. And why? All in the name of discipline or the lack thereof. The incident is prime example of the degradation of discipline among our youths. So I asked when has discipline become such a dirty word and a forbidden act that the least attempt at instilling is met with unmistakable scorn? When students can so viciously and fearlessly attack their dean of discipline who stands as a symbol of law and order in the education institution shows how much they have scoffed at and spat on discipline. How did we get here? We did not just get here one year ago as nothing degrades overnight nor at the spur of the moment. Like a sore that remains untreated and festers to puss & gangrene and before you know it, such area is in need to maximum potent anti-biotic or complete amputation, that is how this degradation of discipline in our society has happened. With schools a microcosm of society, could we them summarize that it is just reflecting what is happening within the wider society? We have become a nation of indiscipline and any force that serves as a symbol discipline must be cut down and cast aside. There are elements in society that continue to turn up their noses, scoffed at and shun discipline like it is a muddy, germy piece of cloth or a contaminated terminal disease. Instead they embrace & relish the stench of lawlessness & disorder. It is this kind of indiscipline that has spilled over in our schools. The sad thing is that we can forecast a cyclical action if stringent measures are implemented. These youths within our schools that view discipline as dirty & forbidden, are the same persons who later become integrated into the wider society and will influence other youths. The litmus test is, how do we claim back beauty & cleanliness of discipline? Or is it too late? There may not have been other incidents that are perfect carbon copies of Mr Myers but there have been other severe disciplinary problems within and out of our schools. So one wonders what is it that we are not doing that we should be doing; or what are we doing that we should not be doing? Strong intervention strategies are needed to put an immediate stop to this problem. One main such will be a consistent collaborative effort of all stakeholders: parents, teachers, board members, community members, etc… This will not change overnight but is still attainable with persistence and if all parties are singing the same tune. That way the attraction in indiscipline will be removed and persons especially our youths will realize the glory & glow in being disciplined. Myers may have been scarred by this incident but that has not stopped him from relentlessly pursuing his passion for working with youths (and lord knows he has every reason to quit). He is surprisingly not angry but is determined to continue the work that he is doing and in the process, demand the discipline from youths despite their background. Having been one of the recipients of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) he is currently pursuing a Masters degree at a South Korea university. Inspite of his resilience and sagacious response to the situation, until we start to take firm corrective actions, this incident will always be a reminder of how much discipline has become a dirty word and a forbidden act.