Devoted educator, mentor and role model, Carmelita Evadne Patterson, has made a sterling contribution to the community of Lionel Town in Clarendon.
She gave more than 40 years to the teaching profession, 36 of which were spent at her alma mater Watsonton Primary School, in the capacity of teacher, senior teacher, vice-principal and then principal for 11 years before she retired in 2001.
“Teaching has been my passion, it was something I always wanted to do as a child. I used to teach the post and wall by pretending that they were my students,” Mrs. Patterson told the government news agency – JIS.
Before Watsonton Primary, Mrs. Patterson taught briefly at Salt Savannah and Hayes Primary schools in the parish before pursuing studies in primary education at the Shortwood Teachers’ College in St. Andrew.
“When I started at Watsonton, I was teaching grade four, and that particular class used to be a challenging one, but I was able to transform the students and made a difference.
“Persons, including the principal, were surprised at how the students transformed. Their behaviour changed, I exercised good class control and had a good rapport with the children, and they learnt,” she says.
She had similar success working with grade-six students, whom she prepared for the then Common Entrance Examination.
“Grammar was always crucial and I stressed the importance of it to my students. I told them they have to master it in order to go to high school, so they had to know their subject and verb and not mix up plural with singular… . I went all out for them, as I wanted them to shine and to stand out when they went off to high school,” she recounts.
Patterson initiated several activities to encourage excellence in academics and sports and promote self-discipline.
Among her initiatives was a Happy Hour music programme “where the children would listen to music while having lunch to get them to remain quiet and relaxed. It worked; we could see the difference in their behaviour”.
A Reading Centre was also established to improve reading and grammar.
Patterson spearheaded inter-class contests in personal hygiene and best-kept classroom, the latter of which blossomed into a beautification competition, resulting in the school being awarded by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in 1991.
To further promote team spirit and sportsmanship, Patterson organised quiz and debating competitions for primary schools in south Clarendon.
Patterson is proud of her four decades of service to education, and contribution to transforming lives.
“When you see those that you have taught continue to excel in their chosen career, it makes me feel proud and that my work have not gone in vain,” she said.
“I have lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs who have passed through my hands, and when we meet on the road and they thank me for helping them to reach where they are, it is a very good feeling,” she adds.