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Sandals South Coast recognises top teachers


THE usual festivities surrounding Teacher’s Day were absent due to the novel coronavirus pandemic restrictions but that did not deter Sandals South Coast from celebrating teachers in unique ways.

Throughout the month of May, the resort paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of the nation’s educators by honouring several outstanding teachers, sponsoring small appreciation events at various schools, and providing an opportunity for teachers in Westmoreland and St Elizabeth to win weekends at any Sandals Resort in Jamaica.

“We host special luncheons for our teachers annually across all our Jamaican properties,” said Sandals South Coast General Manager Adrian Whitehead. “But this year we were unable to host large gatherings due to COVID regulations. We are, however, very grateful for the generosity of our corporate office – Sandals Resorts International – for approving funding for us to still recognise our teachers who continue to strive even in the midst of these challenging times.”

Among those recognised were Lateisha White-Rankine and Lisa Blackwood of Haddo Primary School and Donnette Chambers of Kings Primary.

White-Rankine is a teacher within the school’s infant department, the school’s culture agent, and also the teacher in charge of the school’s ICT programme.

“When we made the switch to online classes, White-Rankine ensured that all 188 of our students were registered for their Google classrooms,” said Haddo Primary Principal Rochelle McGregor-Smith. “Throughout the pandemic, she has continued to provide much-needed technological support to the teachers and myself as well as support parents in setting up the accounts on their devices and logging the students onto the platform,” McGregor-Smith said.

Prior to the pandemic, White-Rankine, who has received an excellent rating from the early childhood inspectorate, also provided Haddo a new lease on life by leading the school’s Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) team on a medal-winning streak in folk and dance competitions.

Lisa Blackwood, who teaches Grade 4, is a senior teacher and leader of the school’s Cub Scouts group, which she has had participating in and winning competitions, while ensuring that her Grade 4 class performs well on their exams. “Ms Blackwood takes such good care of the offline students, as well, by coordinating the printing of their worksheets on a weekly basis,” said McGregor-Smith. Prior to the closing down of schools Blackwood also did an excellent job supervising the school’s tuck shop and canteen and supporting the administrative function within the school.

This level of participation and dedication to not just the classroom but the school body as a whole appeared to be a similar trait among all the teachers awarded, like Donnette Chambers from Kings Primary.

Chambers, who was appointed as the school’s assessment coordinator in 2018, is actively involved in vetting end-of-year and term examination papers, conducting professional development to assist teachers in writing table of specification and assessment plans, and disaggregating data for Grades 4-6 to identify gaps in delivery and plan interventions effectively for students’ academic progress. Throughout her tenure at Kings Primary, Chambers has also utilised high-impact pedagogical strategies to improve student learning and create a classroom environment that is supportive, well controlled, and characterised by a clear focus on learning.

“The recognition of these teachers is of great importance as it demonstrates that their hard work has not gone unnoticed,” said McGregor-Smith. “It will also serve as motivation to other colleagues while encouraging the recipients to strive to accomplish even greater targets.”

She also noted that the move by Sandals has aided her school as the teachers were able to access tangible recognition in a period when additional sources of income is now not available, a statement that was echoed by principals from the other schools.

Two other presentations were also done, and Marcia Tomlinson, from Peggy Barry Primary School, and Judene Bowes of Crawford Primary school, who emerged victorious in a Teacher Appreciation Raffle put on by the hotel, walked away with prizes of two-night/three-day stays for two adults at any Sandals Resort in Jamaica. More than 192 teachers from 19 schools participated in this raffle.

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