Catching Up with S.C. McPherson Teacher of the Year — Latoya Burrows
Challenging, and even unbearable would be how some teachers would find transitioning to teaching in the Family Islands. For Latoya Burrows, who was named teacher of the year at S.C. McPherson Junior School in New Providence, life couldn’t be better. The educator who recently transferred to San Salvador High School says she loves her life in the classroom and feels more and more fulfilled in her profession as the years go by knowing that she has a direct hand in molding the future leaders of the nation. With eight years of teaching experience behind her Burrows says her willing spirit and open-minded nature are assets that help her to adjust and shine no matter where she is. The English Language teacher feels that what keeps her young and energetic even in the face of challenges is always having to come up with creative ways to engage her students in a subject area few thoroughly enjoy.
Q. What makes you a good teacher?
A. It has to be my love for the profession, and of course for the students. Also knowing that there is never a dull day and being willing to face whatever challenges there may be. even just my interest in doing new things to engage students and seeing them enjoy it makes me more effective. I think it’s about just loving this field, being disciplined and finding ways to have fun that makes me better and everything worthwhile.
Q. What would you say are the major differences between teaching at S.C McPherson in New Providence and a Family Island school?
A. The first thing is the environment I met here. I am having a wonderful time at San Salvador High School. I have a wonderful view here on top of the hill and it’s beautiful to be surrounded by water. Then there are the class sizes — it is totally different. My smallest class is nine students and the largest class is about 20 students. The whole school only has about 100 students which doesn’t even compare to what I would be faced with in Nassau. I would be expected to teach about 125 students in any given year. The student population is definitely a big difference. On the other hand, many resources (such as internet) are not as readily or easily available as it would be in New Providence. That’s a little challenge, but I came equipped.
Q. What advice would you give new teachers?
A. To have an open mind about the profession. It is great to have high expectations, but the reality is that for many of them, they will be going into our family of islands, so they need to ensure they are well prepared and not be afraid to be posted outside of New Providence. Remember this is not New Providence, so there aren’t as many resources as they would be expecting, but even so, ensure they are in this field because they love it, because it will be great to see what you can accomplish despite it all once you have an open mind and willing spirit.
Q. Who is your greatest inspiration as a teacher?
A. My greatest inspiration would the many Family Island teachers who taught me. I grew up on the island of Eleuthera and they made a great impact on my life. They are the main reasons why I ventured into the field of teaching. They made a great difference in my life and I wanted to make the same kind of difference in the lives of younger students. To me teaching is an area where making a difference can last a lifetime. The fact that I will have students who will never forget me, or the knowledge, especially if I succeed in being a great teacher really encourages me.
Q. What challenges do you experience in teaching Language Arts in the high school?
A. For the most part, many students I have come across somewhere in their primary school education, lost their sense of imagination. They do not find English to be engaging. They also struggle with their writing skills. Even on this island I am facing challenges in assisting students to improve their language writing skills. It’s like pulling teeth in many cases, especially since many of them do not like to read. This alone could assist them in improving themselves and make lessons much more productive. It’s a challenge I have to meet wherever I am and just continue to think of ways to get my students performing at the standard they should be at.