I am Honoured

Publication Date: 
Thursday, May 18, 2023

SANIKA ROBERTS started her journey as an educator with a non-profit organization in 2013 and then transitioned to the public education system four years ago.

She smiled from ear to ear on Monday afternoon as she accepted a cheque for $100,000 from the Insurance Company of the West Indies (ICWI) for positively impacting the lives of her students.

“I saw a need in my Pennington District community to educate the nation’s most valuable asset and I started on my verandah and later on I moved to my church and as a result of that I was awarded the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for excellence in 2017,” Roberts said.

She was one of three educators who were nominated – by their students for top awards in ICWI’S Dream Big campaign – through the submission of an essay which detailed how their teacher encouraged them to dream big.

The students also had the opportunity to suggest a gift for their teachers, to which ICWI provided the cash equivalent.

Roberts taught Sarah-Kay Campbell while she was a student at Spanish Town Infant School, before she transitioned to St Catherine Primary.

“Sometimes we are changing and touching lives and we don’t even know it. This award definitely proves that I’ve left my mark on Sarah-Kay’s life,” she said.

The grade one teacher told The Gleaner that her goal is always to meet the needs of her students whether they are visual or auditory learners.

“I want a computer or printer that is dedicated to my classroom because I like my classroom to be very print rich,” the enthusiastic educator said.

Sarah-Kay’s mother, Kerryann Francis Campbell, shared that Roberts has played an integral role in the academic advancement of her daughter.

“I really appreciate what she has done for my daughter. I see where her efforts have paid off. She can read and write well,” she said, as she recalled that Roberts placed her daughter in a spelling bee competition without her knowledge.

Francis Campbell was doubtful that her daughter would manage, but Roberts insisted that she would do well and Sarah-Kay placed fourth in the finals.

“Miss Roberts has helped me to recognize that the sky is the limit for my daughter. I am now encouraged to push her more, academically,” the mother remarked.

Kelecia Calame, a student of Mannings Hill Primary School, wished for a laptop and a spa day for her teacher Kadine Fisher.

The grade two teacher shared that seeing improvements in her students’ academic performance and behavior makes her job rewarding.

“As far as I can remember, I’ve always been teaching – teaching shoes, bottles and my peers, so this job was cut out for me at a tender age,” she said.

Fisher explained that she is a part-time student, and a new laptop will be useful as the one she has is an older model which sometimes works slowly.

“I am honoured. I am very grateful for the opportunity that Kelecia has given me and I am also thankful to ICWI.

Young Kelecia shared that her teacher has been a constant source of reassurance when her peers tell her that she will not become a doctor.

“She is kind. She always let us study our words after extra lessons so that we can do well and get 100 percent,” a confident Kelecia said.

Russells Primary and Infant School’s Deandre Simpson requested a laptop or $100,000 for his teacher Mecalea Powell.

The St Elizabeth-based educator, who has been in the classroom since 2005, received the latter yesterday and noted that it was her first time winning a competition.

“I really want to thank Deandre and his mommy for believing in me even though I get stern on them sometimes. Seeing my students excel gives me all the motivation,” she said with a smile.

Deandre described Powell as a kind and hardworking teacher who encourages him to do his best.

“She really has my best interest at heart. She explains when I do not understand, so when mommy told me about the competition, I told her to nominate my teacher,” the grade six student said.

ICWI President Paul Lalor told The Gleaner that teachers play a key role in shaping the future of society.

“We thought what better way than to allow our students to dream something special for their teachers. The three teachers have been rewarded for their hard work. It has been a really good experience for us and we are really happy to do it and will continue doing it,” he said.

ICWI rewarded the students with book vouchers valued at $10,000 each.

The initiative is in its second year and Lalor added that some 210 entries were submitted, and it is his hope that ICWI’s use of social media will generate greater interest in the campaign next year.

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