Inspired to teach from childhood
I have a passion for teaching that came to me as a child at Clarksonville All Age School. In fact, it has been my dream to go back to be the principal in my community, and to do a little farming! There was a teacher, Mrs Brown, who is still at the school and she always taught me what Nelson Mandela said that “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”
I always saw her as this strong professional and positive woman – and that was what I wanted to be. Because I realized that once adults guide you along the way, then it helps you see what you want to be.
Listening to children
Now as the guidance counsellor at Cumberland High School what motivates me is for students to be settled, everyone working towards his/her goals and for us to have incident free days. Conflict will happen but because I have that passion for children, instead of punishing children, I will sit down with them and try and find out what’s affecting them so that I can guide them and affect them positively.
Cumberland High has been part of the Schoolwide Positive Behaviour Intervention (SWPIS) framework. Some of us as teachers get together to give the students a little extra so I will meet with them after school on a Monday to go through life skills and ask them about their day. On a Tuesday, they go to Ms. Clarke who offers her time to help them with English. Mrs. Sheriff will work with them on Mathematics on a Thursday.
Students share stories
One technique I also use is that I developed a storytelling approach where the students must present a story with an experience similar to what they are going through. They must sit in a circle and discuss ways in which they can handle the situation. So, we look at their strengths and their weakness: what they can continue to work on and what they can improve. They are also encouraged to share the most positive things from their day.
There has been a negative image in the media of our school recently, but like other schools that have turned around I know that one day Cumberland will be a school of choice. Just so long as we continue to work together as a team. I don’t give up on the school or my students – some students they make changes, and sometimes they take a step back, but I want them to know that I am with them always.