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From when I was young I always wanted to help people to learn. I come from a socio-economic background where crime and violence were around me as a child and at this early stage of life, when you are in this type of environment, there are two ways to get out. You can go the sporting route like Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce or you can get out with education. Of course you can also combine the two – like I did by becoming a physical education teacher!
There are a lot of scholarships on offer with sports and education and it is even better for a child when they go hand-in-hand. When I see children go on to represent Jamaica , and that has happened with three of my students, representing Jamaica at the U20 youth football – then I feel my job is fulfilled. I can look back and know that child was once in my care. That is why I love going to school every day to try to get these children to move in the right direction.
I use my past experience to motivate my students
I went to GC Foster where I was doing a little bit of track and field but my first love was cricket. The great coach Maurice Westney told me that if I had taken discuss and shot-put a bit more seriously then I probably would have got a scholarship. But probably being young and a bit naive, I was trying to play for Jamaica or the West Indies rather than try something different. These are things that I have done in my past that I can use positively to show children a different path when that might not necessarily be their first love.
I have been through a lot myself so I know what can happen if children are not guided, they can be led astray. You do not want that to happen to any child in your care and using your past experience most times it turns out well. I have not had a lot of children under my care get involved in the wrong or illegal activities later stage in life.
Highlighting positive behaviour in inner-city schools
The wrong things are what children are mostly hearing highlighted about our inner-city schools. But, when you highlight the good behaviours, the children can hear that and think, ‘I want to do something good.’ That is what I like about being a part of the School-Wide Positive Behaviour Intervention and Support (SWPBIS) framework. That John has helped Marcus with his homework or helped him buy lunch. Children feel a sense of responsibility to be their brother or sister’s keeper – they are the ones who write their own destiny at this very young age.
With the video, to be honest I had no way of knowing that it would turn out like this. It is great that people have seen it. It gives me a sense that I want to do more, that I want to go deeper with SWPBIS and so when I talk to the guidance counsellor, Karen Whyte-Samuels, we talk more about how we can do more to improve and help children.
Greatness lies in every child
I believe that greatness lies in every child. Every child has the capacity to be great but sometimes we do not have the facilities or the persons to bring out the greatness within them. So when it comes to the end of my career, if I am getting some kind of acknowledgement for having contributed in every small way, then I will feel fulfilled as a teacher.
Marlon Richards is the Physical Education Teacher at Maxfield Park Primary School which was recently featured on this blog thanks to its successful implementation of the School-Wide Positive Behaviour Intervention and Support (SWPBIS) framework.