Catching Up With Carlton E. Francis Primary School Teacher of the Year — Prendencil Strachan
If Carlton E. Francis Primary School teacher of the year, Predencil Strachan had to redo her life, she knows exactly what she would do. She would become a teacher all over again. The sixth grade teacher who has been in the classroom for 25 years says she genuinely loves what she does, and can’t imagine doing anything else. The 52-year old educator says in all this time, has not lost her passion for education, despite the rigors of the profession. She insists that she is still able to find some joy in what she does from day to day. Even though she was named teacher of the year at Carlton Francis School, Strachan has been transferred to Sadie Curtis Primary where she says she is enjoying the change of scenery after 15 years at her previous school.
Q. What makes teaching a worthwhile profession to you?
A. When I see results from my students I get the most satisfaction. When I can go into the bank or a clinic and see I am being served by a former student I feel a sense of pride. Just knowing that they succeeded and made something of themselves brings joy to me. Seeing that there are so many young people who aren’t into positive things or willing to do what it takes to make their dreams come true and then seeing that my former students are doing the best is a relief to me. It really makes my day knowing that I have touched one life in a small way that helped to get them on the right path.
Q. Do you think the Grade Level Assessment Test (GLAT) is an affective assessment of students’ academic capabilities?
A. Straight across the board I do think so. It shows what students know and where they measure up in accordance with what the Ministry of Education requires. It’s just an assessment. Even in saying that, what I do not believe is fair is for schools to use these grades as a final exam for the students. Many students do not do tests well or worse many of the topic in the GLAT may not be what the teacher has covered so students may not do well. Issuing a school exam in which concepts the students have learnt in their class is what I think should be done. The assessment is just to assess and not to grade is how I feel.
Q. What is the biggest injustice some parents do to their children in terms of their education?
A. I cannot speak generally since there are many good parents but in my personal opinion the major thing some parents fail to do that is holding their children back academically is not being active in their academic life and being in contact with their children’s teachers. School has been opened since September but I still have yet to see some of my students’ parents. I think parents need to be involved so they have a genuine idea of what is going on with their children and they can keep up to date with what is happening in thier children’s school.
Q. Do you think having specialized teachers in the primary school is a good idea instead of having only generalized educators?
A. I think it’s a good idea. It takes a lot of burden off of the class teacher especially in areas that require a deeper understanding or mastery such as modern languages, music, science and art. It isn’t always easy having to teach so many subjects as a class teacher on your own, but another thing that the ministry has implemented is teachers’ aides. It really is good because having someone who is trained to aide in the classroom allows the teacher to have more time to teach and focus on the class. I think all this specialized help is also beneficial to the students as well since it means they have a more in depth understanding of more subjects and are better prepared for junior school.
Q. What advice would you give to new teachers?
A. If you’re coming into the teaching profession just to say you have a job or for the money, don’t come. In order to be a good teacher you have to be committed to the job, love children and love what you do. You will not make it if you are here for any other reason. For me entering this field was second nature. Since I was 14-years-old I was always around children and knew that I would end up in a field dealing with them someday. Even now as a teacher my weekends are still filled with children from my Friday afternoon youth choir practice to Sabbath school classes on Saturdays. The only time I am not around children is on a Sunday and even then it is not a guarantee. You absolutely have to love what you do and truly love children. I can’t say that enough to new teachers.