Archive | May, 2015

STUDENTS FEARED FINE DINING (The Scare)

13 May

STUDENTS FEARED FINE DINING (The Scare).

HOW MY SUPER-WOMAN GRANDMA SHAPED MY EDUCATION

13 May

HOW MY SUPER-WOMAN GRANDMA SHAPED MY EDUCATION.

HOW MY SUPER-WOMAN GRANDMA SHAPED MY EDUCATION

10 May

Grandma was excited about high school. So was I. The prestige Clarendon College? Who wouldn’t be. But I don’t know who was more excited- grandma or me. It didn’t matter. SHE was ready for high school. The fact that she was ready, made me ready.

It was far from home. There was one bus. Light Brigade. It came at 4:45 most mornings and sometimes 5:00a.m. That meant I had to be out of the house by 4:30 a.m every morning. Because it was the ONLY bus that traverse the rural hills of Clarendon, many days, it was a 10:00p.m or 11:00p.m return home. Except those days when we would get lucky, and get a space on an occasional early mini-van that also traversed the surrounding communities.

Despite this journey and ridiculous scheduled, I was never late for school and I got good grades. Not because I was more brilliant, but I worked hard. Grandma made sure I did. She didn’t have to coax me either. I knew from early that my successes made her happy, and once she was happy I was happy.

She could not help with the work. But she ensured I did the assignments. I vividly recalled one occasion when I was burning the mid-night oil for an exam. It was about 1:30 a.m. I heard a sleepy voice behind me:

“lawd have mercy you still up. Is wake me wake an see di light and think you drop a sleep leave it? Is what time? you need fi come go to you bed. Is soon time fi you wake up”

“Soon grandma. Just going study little more”

Now I am staying with her..priceless

Now I am staying with her..priceless

She stood watching me. She then poured hot water from the red and black thermos, made me a cup of tea and sat down at the table. She took up one of the books and she skipped through it. Put it down and waited. She started falling asleep. She was tired. I called her gently and told her to go back to bed.

“Not yet. Me caan help you do the work so the least me can do is stay up wid you” she chuckled lovingly.

I went back to studying. She slept at the table. When her not so shrivelled neck could no longer take the discomfort, she got up, reluctantly bid me goodnight once more, and went to bed. This happened right throughout high school.

As I recall the memory, I am teary eyed; overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude, appreciation and unconditional love for the woman who was the rock behind the woman I am today.

All this support and attention was not limited to high school. It went way back…

Primary School

I am no longer a little girl but she cant herself...i am still her little girl

I am no longer a little girl but she cant herself…i am still her little girl

Tables turn...now I comb hers

Tables turn…now I comb hers too

I was too little to remember the exact time. But it was early. Very early. I was attending primary school. She would get up first, make her way to the outside kitchen and start the breakfast. Then she would wake me from my slumber. With sleepy eyes I would make my way outside to the kitchen to comb my hair. Very thick hair that took time to comb. By the time my hair was finished, I was ushered to go have a shower. She would wake the others, serve breakfast. By 7:00am, all ten children were sent off to school.

Why I love to read

Grandma loved to read. She read everything and anything that crossed her path. That’s how I got in trouble once, with her when she found my little journal where I had written about a friend, who gave us lessons on how to kiss a boy. But that’s a story for another time. Because of her love for reading, her grand children did not escape reading sessions. “Take the book and come stand right here” grandma would say. She would then show us the paragraph or page to read. We would have to read it aloud, and made sure we pronounced every word properly. She made us underline the words we did not know. By the end of the week, we had to know them all. Today, my cousins and I who grew up with her are good readers. I have taken it to another level. Reading is my life. That is all I do. Thanks to my super-woman Grandma Blanche.

treasured moments with the woman who saved me from a beating

treasured moments with the woman who saved me from a beating

How grandma saved me a whooping and made me a mastermind at timetables

When I got to grade four, I had to face the dreaded timetable i ran from head-on because mr Brown was very quick with the straps. I hated doing timetables but the fear of a good jamaican whooping from Mr Brown my grade four teacher sent me studying. My Super-woman grandma Blanche took on the challenge. She made me recite my timetables every night before going to bed. In the mornings while combing my hair, I would have to through the drill. Sometimes while I am the heights of a game of football or cricket with the boys, she would summoned me and asked some random ones. Such torture. I soon became a scratch record. I hated the drill but it saved me a beating every day after lunch. Thanks to super-woman grandma Blanche.

How grandma taught me resilience

I went to school when common entrance examination the exam to pass. I did it THREE times. Yup! Surprised huh? I failed on my first two attempts. The first time i was in grade five but eligible for the exam. I did not feel bad when I didn’t pass. My super-woman and I just worked harder. She had the answer sheets from my text books, and every night, I had to do some work, then grandma would call the answers on the answer sheet and uncle Dave (May his soul rest in peace) would mark the script.

receiving deep words of wisdom from my super-woman

receiving deep words of wisdom from my super-woman

I was ready for the exam or so I thought. When results came, I failed again. All my 65 classmates passed. Every. Single. One. I cried. No, I wept. I wailed. My super-woman took my failure with pride. She simply said, “yuh young. yuh have more chance”. I wailed louder and harder. I did not want to go back. I was embarrassed. Afraid. She stood by me. Encouraged me. And sent me back. This time I passed and i have not looked back since.

I almost robbed myself of an opportunity to attend a great high school because of fear and failure. Parents involvement in a child upbringing cannot be emphasized enough.  That is why I go all out for my students too. I know failure. Thanks to my grandma i learnt a valuable lesson. Failure is not synonymous with quitting. To this day, I have a scar from those two failed exam attempts because I am terribly afraid of failure. I am so afraid, sometimes i don’t even want to try. But I was raised by a warrior. A super-woman. So i am a dare devil I do not succumb to the fear. As a matter of fact, that fair of failure has been the driving factor behind all my successes thus far.

You may be wondering about my mother; she is alive and i love her dearly. But note, I lived with my grandmother from I was FOUR months old until 2002 when I left for my final year in college. I visited mommy yes, but the rigours of growing up was all my grandma.

hot grams

The almost 5ft giant. My superwoman

Today I am proud of who I am. Happy and proud of my achievements. But it all started and was fuelled by one lady, my almost 5feet tall super-woman grandmother Blanche.

What can you share about the woman/women who shaped your lives?

Happy Mother’s Day to all.

STUDENTS FEARED FINE DINING (The Scare)

9 May

“The persons who are selected for the Fine Dining will be escorted by four of our male teachers. They are Mr Harriott, Mr Thomas, Mr T. Allen and L. Allen” I announced over the intercom. The scream that followed that announcement had me grinning from ear-to-ear. They loved it. I loved it. The staff loved it.

Background to Fine Dining

As I sat with my executive member brainstorming for ideas for the next beneficial social activity to present to the girls that could further enhance the student-teacher relationship, it hit me. Fine Dining. Expose them to social etiquette. It is an all girls institution. Perfect idea. I pitched it. The executive loved it. The rest of the staff loved it. So it was off to the principal for approval.

Principal: You know Ms Reid, I like the idea but…(she paused) but I am concerned the girls may misconstrue it as something else.

Me: Sister, I fully understand your concern but they will not be alone with you the teachers. all of us will be there including you. We will transform the stage in the Hall into our restaurant. We will do it during the lunch hour. That way the other students get a chance to see and learn.

Picture of what was in my head as I made my pitch to the principal

Picture of what was in my head as I made my pitch to the principal

I could see her brain working through what I said.

“Some of these girls may never experience this again in their lifetime. We are sending out girls. We need to equip them as best as we can. Just trust us with this Sister. We will start with only four girls” I continued

“Okay. Go ahead. Put something in writing for me first and then you can proceed” she conceded.

I did not hesitate. Within thirty minutes I presented it to her. It was then on to creating tickets for sale. Yes! For sale. We needed funds to offset the cost of the luncheon. So do not judge us. It was a minimal cost of JA$50.

The sale of the ticket did not match the scream that was given when the announcement was made. The first week the sale of tickets was moderate. By the second week, no one was buying. The girls said they were not interested anymore. I guess the novelty wore off. I was determined to stage it. Even if it was one girl. In the third week, we made the draw. Four names were selected. Students screamed at the selection.

Now it was time .

The Scare

Collage of decor team at work

Collage of decor team at work

The decor team was in place and plans far advanced regarding the transformation of venue. The teachers who volunteered to be waiters/waitresses were ready. The brass band and selector were ready. The male teachers were ready. All was in place and ready except the girls. I am not kidding. I met with them they day before the event for final briefing. I was not prepared for the mountain of excuses I got:

“Miss I don’t want to do it again. Mi cyan bodda yaa man (Reads: I can’t be bothered)

“Miss, mi nuh like them uptown ting deh (Reads: I do not like those up town things)

“Miss, I have nothing appropriate to wear. Is pure short clothes I have and I don’t go to church”

…and the excuses kept coming.

I was stunned. Being the good teacher I think I am addressed each concern and tried massaging their egos. (All this time in my mind I was screaming : “are these girls really serious?”) Three of the four were adamant they didn’t want to do it.  I realized they were afraid because they didn’t know how to function in such setting.  Despite my best efforts to reassure them, they remained resolute. I asked them to volunteer someone else since it was they who purchased the tickets. They were off in a flash.

While they were gone, I called another member of the committee and informed her of our dilemma. Of all the things, I did not anticipate this to have been a challenge.  When I was that age, I would have been excited about dining with my teacher. But this is a different era. The girls returned shortly with their replacements, then disappeared. They too were afraid. But with a little massaging, they decided they would do it if they could wear uniforms and not formal attire. Agreed. Argument closed.

While in a class later that day, the replacements returned with another set of replacements. I accepted them but I got nervous. This was the third change. I was worried the girls may not show up.

Collage of decor

Collage of decor

But they did. Those four girls braved the nervousness and showed up promptly. They were beautiful. When  the lunch hour started, the remaining students saw the decor, they got jealous. As the girls were escorted to their tables by the male teachers, the room erupted with screams. The girls were excited.

“Miss, when is the next one?”

“Miss you couldn’t pick me?”

“I want to be a part of the next one”

And the comments continued.

Some of the girls dining

Some of the girls dining while some of their school mates looked on

The participating girls hardly ate. All the attention made them nervous but they smiled all the way. Though they were nervous, they enjoyed every moment of the lady like treatment that was meted out to them.

I thoroughly enjoyed their reception. I was most impressed with the fact that the students watching did not resort to unkind utterances and negative criticisms. To make them feel as part of the activity, they were allowed to vote for their favourite pair at JA$20 per vote . And man, vote they did.

They were voted as the best pair

They were voted as the best pair

It was a beautiful day for the girls. The teachers attended to their every need and made them feel special. With every deed done by the teacher for the student he escorted, the girls erupted into a scream (Pulling out chair, placing napkins in their laps, etc). They were happy to have teachers as waiters/waitresses including the principal.

Princiapal in her role as waitress...a little blurry but...

Princiapal in her role as waitress…a little blurry but…

I surveyed the scene. It was warm and pleasant. I loved the reception. I loved what I was seeing. In my mind, I was already making plans regarding the elements that can improve the next staging. That one I know will be huge.

What do you think about the teaching of fine dining and other social etiquette being taught in schools?