Teach to save a life today to save your own tomorrow

I honestly believe that by teaching you can save a life today to save yours tomorrow. We really we do not know what tomorrow brings and our effort as teachers today can save a child from becoming a criminal tomorrow.

You may never reach all your students, but as I constantly say to my teachers, “reach one every day’. It can be something as simple as stopping a child on the corridor to ask ‘How are you doing?’ In this little moment you might be interrupting a thought in that child’s head that could have led to something else, something terrible in fact.

Teachers can save a child every day

If each of us as teachers therefore try to save a child every day, then our country can only be better for it.

Teaching is certainly my passion. I am motivated to teach because of what education has done for me in transforming my life. I am from a very humble background – one of the first persons in my family to go to university and to achieve this much. So, when I am at school as a teacher, I am passionate about seeing others excel through education.

albert town high school jamaica unicef swpbis
UNICEF/JAMDwayne Edwards, Principal of Albert Town High School in Trelawny.

I was an ‘accidental teacher’

The truth is that I became a teacher by default. I did not go to Teachers’ College and teaching just happened to be the available job at the time when I graduated from university. My intention was just to spend two years at Albert Town High. But here I am in my 14th year as Principal of the institution. This for me is confirmation that teaching is indeed my calling.

Watching children change before your eyes really gives you this inexplicably good feeling.’ It just feels great when you have students telling you that they did well and thanking you for what you did as a teacher. That is definitely something that keeps you going as a teacher.

Albert Town High had to be turned around

In 2011 our school was rated as unsatisfactory and one of the things they cited as being poor was student behavior. In 2016 the NEI returned and at the end of the inspection we were rated as satisfactory, with some commendations. This is not to say that the school does not have pockets of unsatisfactory and undesirable behaviours because we’re not a perfect school but the improvement was recognized and we can only get better.

When we were added to the School-Wide Positive Behaviour Intervention and Support (SWPBIS) list of pilot schools possibly because of our poor rating, we first thought ‘oh well, this is another initiative that is going to burden schools.’ But upon trying it we realized that this is something that has merit and should be in all schools. I say this because education is about making people’s behaviour more positive and that is what SWPBIS does – it gives your students something to aim for and focuses on developing positive behaviours.

What it means for our students to be ‘RICH’

You will hear about Albert Town Students being ‘Rich’, not Tanto Blacks ‘Real Rich’, but for us and our school this means, ‘Respectful, Industrious, Courteous and Honest.’ I will not lie and say to you that SWPBIS solves all problems. It does not. It is not a panacea for all our woes. You will always have your cases but we are not seeing as many fights and other things as we were used to seeing.

We are monitoring the data and we have a grade competition to select the class of the week that is ‘RICH-est’. We also have several other initiatives as part of our implementation of the SWPBIS Framework.

Others schools can do what we did with SWPBIS 

It is without doubt that we believe in the value of SWPBIS and encourage all schools to implement. We can only reap success where our success exhibit more positive behaviours.

Dwayne Edwards is Principal of Albert Town High School whose participation in SWPBIS was previously featured on this blog. This post is the third and final in a series for Education Week.

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  1. Wonderfully said mr edwards albert town is my school and there are some amazing teachers there who have paved the way for even me…you are tremendously a very amazing principal who I can see value the need of an education in today’ s youth and society…keep up the good work.