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23 Jul

“Your name is on the list but I cannot allow you to be a part of the rehearsal process until your graduation fee is paid”
“But miss I did not get a voucher”
“That is because you have outstanding school fees for the past three years”
“So Miss how much money is that?”
“Go to the office, speak to one of the secretaries and they will calculate and let you know”

Background to dialogue
*Lisa crept into the graduating class rehearsal without being seen. She manage to disguise herself well among the 257 girls who were preparing to take that Final Walk. Luckily for me, I was working with a vigilant office staff. A voucher turned up in their file with the name Lisa Perez, indicating she paid her graduation fee. She was immediately summoned to the office. Long and short of it, she admitted accepting a voucher from a student who no longer needed hers as she was migrating prior to the graduation ceremony and would not be attending. She was told she will not join the line up; the money paid will be transferred towards her outstanding school fee. If she wanted to graduate, she needed to clear all the fees.

The Story continues…
That’s how I got involved. I was told not to admit her in rehearsals. This was three days before the graduation ceremony. Their valedictory Mass was the Friday, and the Sunday was the big day. Today was Wednesday. Lisa owed $58,000.

Thursday morning Lisa’s mom was at the school with $20,000. She asked for leniency. It was denied. By Thursday afternoon she came with another $10,000. The administration was still resolute.

Friday about mid-day, the graduands started arriving, dressed in their uniforms, their gowns in hands and fancy hairstyles. They were excited. I could feel it in the air. Lisa was present with her Fancy hairstyle, her beautiful white shoes, face flawlessly made up, but she had no gown. She was not permitted entry to the room for the graduands.

Fast forward several hours later…
The graduands got dressed for their valedictory mass, formed the line up to head to the church, while Lisa she sat on the bench next to the office window. She was awaiting the arrival of her mom with the remaining $18,000 that was outstanding for the school fee. The secretary in charge of issuing the gowns decided to prepare a complete set for her (gown, cape, hat, tassel, corsage) in the event her mom showed up. At 5:00p.m, the girls disappeared into the church. Lisa was still waiting. At about 5:30 a woman entered the compound in great hurry and rushed to the front office. It was Lisa’s mom. She had the remaining $18,000. Lisa was cleared and at 5:36, despite being thirty-six minutes late, she made her way to the church to join the others.

Students basking in the excitement of their “Final Walk”

Twisted priorities
The thing about this situation that bothers me is the issue of priorities. There are several other Lisa’s out there in many educational institution. Every year it happens. Parents refuse to pay school fees. There are students owing as much as $70,000 in school fees and when they are told they have met all criteria for graduation but will not be permitted to do so because of the outstanding funds, parents find the money. All. Of. It. Where did that money come from? if you can find 40 to 70 thousand dollars within a two week period, what happened over the three to four period why it was not paid? In addition to paying the many thousand dollars for outstanding school fees, they have to pay $10,000 for graduation fees, pay for their child hairstyles, nails, shoes and all the other pampering that come with this fete.

There is a high level of delinquency among parents when it comes to paying school fees that is unfathomable. School fees are important to the daily function of an institution. This is how the utilities and several other bills are paid. When parents do not pay these fees, then added pressure is placed on the institution. Because of this high level of delinquency, some schools (possibly all or most) made the decision to marry the payment of school fees to the Final Walk.

This level of delinquency is not only with school fees but also the purchasing of books and other materials for schools. I have had instances where the student is absent from school because of the supposedly lack of funds, but the same student is present at a function on the weekend fully fashionably dressed from head to toe.

Most Parents just want that feel good moment where their child/ren is the centre of attention; where they can say my child graduate high school; and so this feel good moment trumps everything else. It becomes priority even over academics sometimes. Schools’ administrators are aware of the fact this is where parents priority lies, hence they have opted to use this medium to recover  as much funds as possible.

While I am supportive of this decision by schools, I am concerned about the twist in priorities of parents. The enthusiasm, dedication, attention and sacrifice that they show when their child is about to graduate high school, I wish the same is shown during the child’s tenure in high school.

What are your views?

*Fictious name



18 Jan

I told you so. Yup! I did.

Once again the performance of schools is under the radar but guess what?  Yes, the teachers are not the focus. (can I get a hallelujah shout?)

 The recent flurry of comments/discourse about the state of leadership in our schools triggered by the findings of National Education (NEI)  inspectorate is “being a long time coming” (Using Sam Cooke’s voice) so can’t say I am surprised.  So what is the hoop-la-hah about?  This problem of poor leadership at the principal level is not a new development. Our education managers had simply turned a blind eye. In my blog post Ed-decay-tion:Whose fault is it I wrote that the problem of education is being attacked from the wrong place…the teachers. I was subjected to much criticism for this. I explained that if teachers are failing then someone is not doing their jobs. While teachers have a task to carry out, often their failure is symptomatic of a bigger problem.   For this blunt statement, I was highly criticized by many but it is about time the spotlight be refocused and there are myriad reasons for this.



Continued Professional Development

Teachers have been constantly chastised for being a failure;  a failure sometimes attributed to abstinence from continued professional development, while administrators have been overlooked. How sensible is this?  Why must our administrators be let off the hook when they are at the helm of the organization?  Why must they be overlooked when it is their vision for the institution that is guiding the strategies employed within the institution?  How many of our principals can respond appropriately regarding global trends in education? How many of our schools’ administrators are aware of the current best practices in education administration?  How many principals turned out for the MANDATORY training seminar again?  I wonder what will be the sanction for missing this important professional development session.

Like with everything else, the education landscape evolves, and it is only to our peril if our education administrators do not keep pace.


Pull String Position

Several persons occupying the coveted post of principal have been ‘placed’ there not because they are competent and has a trailing track record of success in the area; but because someone influential ‘pull-a-string’ (read:do you a favour ).  Meaning, they are strong affiliated with a church; may be a ‘good’  past student of the institution;  has strong political connection, etc, etc, etc…  Don’t get me wrong, I am not averse to the concept of ‘pull string’.  (Who wouldn’t be comfortable to have someone who could make acquiring that top job easier?)  What I am averse to is ‘pulling string’ for someone who is not proficient in the area, and when they fail to deliver, someone else takes the lashing.  So then, why do we complain when the mode of appointment for principalship is subject to capture?  (Roll my eyes and shrug my shoulders). Why do we complain when the monitoring and evaluation process of same is weak and there is a lack of accountability?  Economist Douglas North et al  purports that institutions must be robust enough to avoid capture and must also embody the elements that  is will encourage accountability and transparency.  Our education system seems to be operating contrary to this.  The appropriate institutions to ensure efficiency are missing…so what do we expect?  It therefore means our policy makers and all other stakeholders need to go back to the drawing board. Some principals are in the post.  .

We cannot re-vamp an education system by repeatedly targeting one group.  A system is made up of all parts intricately woven to function collaboratively for an effective workable system. It is like a motor car. You cannot service one part & not service the others. That would be grave injustice.  I have always and will continue to maintain that complete change in education system will only start to manifest when there is a shake-up of the upper hierarchy. Start at the top and like a bucket overflowing with water, it will trickle to the base.

Amidst my ranting, I must commend the Minster of Education and his team for finally turning the lens to look at another aspect of the education system regardless of the fact that he was prompted or better yet pushed over the wall to do so.  The litmus test is, how far will this attempt go?  We are not society known for having the gumption to relentlessly pursue initiatives to effect change. We bask in the nine day talk, and on the tenth day it is the ‘business as usual’ model.

supervision and leadership

 Our education system is not perfect but it has indeed come a far way… if our education managers had the super vision supported by appropriate strategies then it would have further improvement. Nonetheless, an effort is an effort regardless of when it comes I can’t knock the effort before giving it a try. I am therefore waiting to see how this initiative of focusing at leadership of the nation schools will evolve.

*some pictures taken from google images


27 Nov


supervision and leadership

 Leaders cannot lead blindly.  They must have a vision to share with those they supervise.  Some of our institutions continue to show symptoms of leadership & supervision anemia.  Others have managed to effectively avoid this illness.  Our aim is to have all our education institutions at all levels anemia free.  So, all education administrators, find that SUPER vision so you can lead & supervise with sight.




25 Nov

Often as teachers we become frustrated with our students who refuse to follow our directives.  Sometimes, their unwillingness is not out of a desire to be rude and disrespectful but more-so a deep rooted self-doubt. We are unable to turn their perceive negative attitude into a positive one.    The reality is, there is always a strategy to combat every challenge. It is for us to find it.  We need to empower ourselves to overcome these challenges so we may empower our students.

As I was browsing my news feed on facebook, i came across this video posted by Drama in Education lecturer extra-extraordinaire Dr Brian Heap.   As i watched,  I immediately thought it was worth sharing with you my faithful readers.  Please watch this video. I know you will enjoy it as much as I did.  And please do not forget to share your thoughts.



17 Nov

everyone needs a little shade sometimes…even this box

Nobody likes to be in the sun-for long that is.  Of course we miss its beauty when the rainy weather sets in and refuse to stop; and like a small child’s excitement  upon receipt of a new toy, we danced with glee when we see the familiar glow peeping through the clouds. BUT! On a day when it is high in the sky, we prefer to enjoy it from the safety of air conditioned offices, the shade of a tree or any place that serves as a shield from the burning rays.  I can see you all nodding your heads in agreement.  So I guess you will understand the reaction of over 1700 girls between ages 12-18 when they were roused from the shade and cool of their classrooms or the cool waters of the swimming pool at 1:00pm in the afternoon for the mandatory earthquake drill.

It is this bad….horrors from earthquake that rocked Haiti


An earthquake is not like a tropical storm or hurricane that you can see in the distance coming at you with its vengeance. This sudden violent shaking of the ground, sometimes resulting in great destruction, as a result of movements within the earth’s crust comes like the thief in the night.     Due to the fact that we cannot prevent it happening and there are no warning signs, so we must devise response strategies. Our children spend a considerable amount of their time at school making it mandatory that school administrators prepare students for this inevitable.

wish our students would be this disciplined

When an earthquake strikes, there will be no time to decide what to do hence, everyone MUST already know what to do. So it is in an effort at preparing to not have a disaster if and when this disaster occurs that these necessary torturous drills happen. On the day in question, I was in the middle of an exciting lesson, my girls were quiet and I was delighted.  Then, loudly..weewoow, weewoow, weewoow”…that’s the signal that there an earthquake. Three of them.   NOT NOW! I screamed in my head angrily but I had to put on a show for the students.  They openly protests. Yes I am admitting I didn’t want to do it. I’m a good teacher, not a perfect individual. So like any good teacher, I had to play the part. I dashed under a desk for cover and encourage them in the process and they unwillingly complied.  I watched the sea of blue and beige haphazardly strolling to the holding area…the middle of the playing field where the sun was master and servant.  As they milled about, they complained and the teachers could hardly find a line as all girls were desperately trying to find an ounce of shade. Some were huddled together beneath the safety of umbrellas.  A few ran onto the field because they wanted it to be over quite quickly. That was a huge mistake. as i watched i realize the students have not grasped the seriousness of the drill. I thought to myself,  “this is a disaster”.

stern Nun…well my principal didn’t look like this but you get the picture

The principal was however not amused and she went on the intercom, took charge and ordered the students back to their classroom…not to rest BUT to repeat the drill. They were not amused BUT, they knew it had to be done.  Second time around, they did it better than the first…despite the sun pelting down on their heads.  Good thing it was the end of the school day.

These drills are important as they teach students and staff how to respond to the actual earthquake and help you evaluate how well all parts of your emergency plan work together. Additionally, it indicates how well your staff and students have been trained as a well trained staff and students will guarantee effective execution of plans.

The question is, is there a best time of the day to conduct these drills?  I know earthquakes are not limited to time of day but the aim is to develop students muscle memory to respond appropriately to the earthquake signal and be familiar with the evacuation routes.  Why not do this in the morning when the sun is not high in the sky?  There will still be that element of surprise because the students would not be privy to the days the drills will happen since the days are randomly selected.  There is a better chance of achieving objective of the drill.  The way it was done made it ineffective because of the time of day. Don’t worry, I hear you thinking it.  I will seek dialogue with my principal to express this concern. The truth is, at the end of the day after teachers and students have had their hectic day, no one would have found pleasure in this activity it was not surprising this disaster preparedness preparation ended in disaster.

If you were the school’s administer, what would you do?  Share your thoughts. I would like to hear from you.

These pictures were taken from Google images.


12 Nov

Let us check ourselves…

The recent reports of plagiarism of School Based Assessment (SBAs) projects in our high schools have sent me thinking as well as writing.

I am not here to say whether the allegations made against these schools are true. I am saying that it is ninety percent (90%) or more the teacher’s fault when students plagiarize.  Several of you reading this may not agree with me but that is okay because you are entitled to do so.  However, the blame game is not the central theme of this post.

In my blog post Class Projects, School Based Assessment Projects, Thesis paper: One and the Same?  I reminded teachers that they are to encourage seriousness in approach as the overarching objective is the same.  In this blog that I will call part two, I decided that instead of blaming teachers for a lack of integrity, I will remind them that our jobs as educators is to prepare global citizens; citizens who are able to function effectively outside the comfort of high school.  They should also be reminded of the benefits of these projects to students.


This is why I did not place 100% blame on teachers…

Children are children and if we allow them to be lazy and irresponsible then they will.  They will take the easy way out if they can.  Therefore, I expect them to give us plagiarize work.  BUT! This is where teachers should step in to change that.  We have a responsibility to help mould and inculcate certain values that will make them model citizens. It therefore means, as teachers we CANNOT accept plagiarize work from our students. When we do that, we become enablers of this inappropriate action which has far reaching implications. We need to look beyond our current classroom.  It is a known fact that at the university level, the act of plagiarism attracts a sanction of a three to five years bann.  It therefore means we ought to do all we can to prepare them for the ultimate: tertiary education and survival in the world.


  • Tasks of this nature will result in various competences among students such as:
  • Develop the research skills of students
  • Facilitate independent learning and give students the opportunity to be more responsible for their learning
  • Improve students’ organization skills
  • Foster individual instructional sessions within the teaching and learning process
  • Help to improve the writing/communication skills of students
  • Help students learn to respect and honour deadlines.
  • Learn the art of commitment
  • Encourage team work and leadership skills as some of these projects are done within groups.
  • Improve students self confidence
  • Understand the application of consequences and rewards
  • Help students to take directive well
  • Encourage honesty and integrity

The list continues. We need to view ourselves as more than mere teachers imparting content but as education managers as we manage process, people, ourselves, content and how it is imparted.  We organize, plan, delegate and implement.

When we do the work for our students, or accept plagiarize work, we are robbing them of an opportunity to develop personally, academically and professionally.  We ought to maintain integrity within our classrooms which by extension will maintain integrity of the overall education sector and society. We need to remember we are creating global citizens, NOT just students to get a good grade in class.

What are some other benefits of completing these projects?  Do you think teachers should be blamed for plagiarism in schools?   I would like to hear from you. Stop by and share.

*images taken from Google pictures


26 Jul
My Pet Chanese....i am sharing in her salutatorian moment

My Pet Chanese….i am sharing in her salutatorian moment

“Teacher’s pet! Teacher’s pet! Teacher’s pet…. That’s the familiar chant of children in a school yard.  In the middle of the chanters, crumbled against a wall, or backed into a corner is a student in agony-crying and wishing the others would go away; or he/she is defensively trying to get them to stop.

Does this scenario drag your memory?  Have you ever been accused of the same?  Well I have.   It is one of those moments when you believe in your heart that you are enjoying a great relationship with your teacher but you didn’t think you were a  PET!   or being given preferential treatment.   As I got older, and became an educator, I thought about this and I ask, is there really anything wrong with being a teacher’s pet? What exactly is it.

Who is a Teacher’s Pet?

A student who finds favour with a teacher or authority is often referred to as teacher’s pet.  But what is so wrong about finding favour with a teacher? It means you must be doing something right.    Some persons do not share this view.  As I was writing this article, I came upon this.  He describes a teacher’s pet as:

* “An annoying student who kisses up to the teacher and does a bunch of favors for said teacher in hopes of getting a good grade. The kind of student who raises his hand for every single question and buys expensive gifts for their teacher. This student thinks they are superior to their peers because they are the teacher’s favorite and therefore they bosses everyone around. They will also tattle on their peers for insignificant rules they might break.

*Normal Student eating an apple, not causing harm to anybody*
Teacher’s Pet: “Teacher! Oh teacher! There’s someone eating an apple in the classroom! That’s against the rules!”
Teacher: “Thank you for telling me. *scolds Normal Student*
Normal Student: “Wow, thanks a lot man. What the hell did I ever do to you?”

by Dude678 Jun 25, 2013

I have a few questions about this.

What is so bad about doing favours for your teacher? What is so wrong about raising your hands to answer the questions asked? Why couldn’t it be seen that the student is merely participating in the teaching and learning process?   Why should a rule be seen as insignificant?  If it was not necessary then it would be in the school rules and students must respect that at all times. So why then should a student who is helping to get her classmates to follow the rules be called a teacher’s pet?

These reasons proffered by the writer as to who is a teacher’s pet  are not necessarily wrong but it’s being presented in a negative way.


My Confession

I have had several students who were MY pets because they found favour with me.  Two stood out in my memory today: Chanese Hamilton & Sashana Lemard.  There is absolutely nothing that I wouldn’t do for them.  Chanese however was a cut about the rest.   I hear the question, why were they teacher’s pet?   I will tell you.

  1. Both girls were extremely disciplined, respectful  and obeyed both school & classroom rules
  2. Both took on leadership roles without being prompted to do so. These leadership responsibilities were carried out without fear or favour.
  3. Both were responsible and dependable students to whom I could entrust tasks and they were carried out with efficiency.
  4. Assignments were always completed and handed in on time even if they were incorrect.
  5. Always early for school and class.
  6. Chanese was outspoken and when feel wronged, would take her grouses through the appropriate channel instead of being confrontational with authority figures.
  7. Both students got good grades because worked very hard and were never afraid to seek assistance.  Maybe too hard.

I remember when Chanese was preparing for CSEC examinations and sent me the draft of her School based Assessment (SBA) project.  One night I corrected it and sent it back to her via email.  Within the space of an hour, it came back to me with the corrections. I once again went through the document and returned it. Within another hour, the document was returned.   I was shocked! Now I wanted her to be a delinquent by not sending it back at that time. I thought, why won’t this child go to her bed?   Because of her drive, determination and level of focus, I could not sit back and not assess the paper.  When I assessed and returned it for the third time that night, I figured it would have ended there but it didn’t. Within an half of an hour I received an email that said she started the corrections but would not be able to finish it at that time because it was late and was sleepy.   I silently said thank you Jesus.   Yes Chanese I did.

I  want my students to do well and when they are this focus I must ensure that I keep them motivated.  Chanese was very focus and I would not want to be that teacher to hinder her progress.

Chanese was a driven young lady whom you did not have to tell to study. You would see her in her spare time tucked away in a corner studying. I and other teachers would sometimes encourage her to take a break.

The girls were almost perfect students.  Both graduated from fifth form earning diploma with honours.  Chanese did not only graduate with honours but she was the Salutatorian, meaning that of the over three hundred girls in the graduating class, she was placed second. It was a proud moment.  Both girls are currently attending university in United States of America & Canada.  They continue to make me proud.  Why wouldn’t I want them to be teacher’s pet?

It was obvious I loved the two girls as I did not hide my affection.  The human side of me, the nurturing mom would not have allowed me to.  The class Chanese was apart of was one of my favourite classes so I loved them all but I had a special spot for Chanese and this was because of the qualities she exuded.  Mind you, they were not above reprimand. As a matter of fact, reprimand for them was more severe than the others. If you ask they will tell you.  They would often say to the delight of the other students “miss your love is tough”.

Role of Teachers

As educators, if you notice that there are students with whom you interact that possess these traits and more, you need to help them continue to succeed.   If you find that you have a special place in your heart for student/s do not think anything is wrong with it or it is deem professional misconduct.   Love them.  It is only natural that your spirit will be warm to students who exhibit certain qualities but you must always remember your duty to them. Do not allow your affection to cloud your judgement. They should not be given preferential treatment but be guided.  It therefore means if the entire class is being punished for an action, they too should be involved.  If they step out of line, they should be reprimanded.   As you love and carve special places in your hearts for these students, be mindful however of how you interact in presence of other students. They are young and they all need love. You do not want the rest of your students to feel neglected or unloved; even the student that gives the most trouble.   If this happened, it may be a breeding ground for negative self-esteem or the development of anger and resentment.

Students do not be afraid to be branded as being a teacher’s pet.   It is not necessarily a bad thing.  Just keep exhibiting good qualities because these qualities that give the label of teacher’s pet, are the same ones that will make you individuals of choice in this global world.

If you can relate to this, please share your thoughts and experience.

* Information in quotation was retrieved from this website.