Partnering with Parlatuvier…Teacher of the year engages the village to raise school children.
By Michelle Loubon
Trinidad and Tobago Guardian | Sun, 2011-02-13 19:13
The small fishing village of Parlatuvier, Tobago, was well represented by Parlatuvier Anglican Primary teacher, Isabel Burris-Paul at Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s, last Saturday. The gala event which celebrated the teacher of the year was hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA).
TTUTA’s president Roustan Job, scores of dignitaries and teachers attended the event. Burris-Paul, 34, graciously accepted the award for her contribution to the Parlatuvier community and its children.She said: “I was a little overwhelmed. But I was also humbled by the experience. I guess if it had to deal with anything, it had to be my track record. I am initiating new things. I try to do things differently. I am active in the school and community.”
She never had any aspirations to become teacher of the year. But paid kudos to the Tobago arm of TTUTA for recognising her outstanding contribution. She said: “The quality of your effort should not depend upon whether your effort is being recognised. I love teaching and I love the students. Teaching consumes your entire life.”
Support from parents, residents
Parlatuvier residents were taught they were stakeholders in the children’s education and holistic development. “I emphasised the need for a lot of parental support, support from the staff and community. I was able to get the community and families involved.” Burris-Paul strove diligently to move the school’s position in the Secondary Entrance Assessment from 39. “Our school moved from 39 to ten. We introduced new classroom initiatives such as board games to improve critical thinking.”
Another grand initiative was Helping Our Past Pupils Excel (Hope). “We would monitor SEA students who graduated to high school. We would keep building on the school, family and community partnership. “A lot of them had issues with self-esteem. We had to ensure a greater chance of success,” added Burris-Paul.
Motivational speakers including Cecille Beckles and former independent senator, Dr Eastlyn Mc Kenzie urged the children to work steadfastly towards their goals and contribute to national development. They also learned Parlatuvier had produced illustrious gentlemen including Caricom Secretary General Dr Edwin Carrington, educator Wilfred Carrington and UWI lecturer Mervyn Elder.
Isabel Burris-Paul had the distinction of attending Parlatuvier Anglican Primary School, too. At eight, she went to live with Emelda Stewart, principal at Parlatuvier Anglican EC and attended Les Couteaux (Winston Bailey’s hometown) Anglican School. While she loved her parents Samuel and Theresa Low-Burris, she grew up at Mt Grace with Stewart.
“She was my mother and mentor and she had no children.” Along with her husband Learie Paul, she lives at Spring Garden . Burris-Paul is a member of the Black Rock Heritage Village Council, writes for the TTUTA’s newspaper and the church’s magazine, Outlook. Reflecting on her spiritual side, she said: “God has brought me through some challenges which I would not have been able to handle without His grace.”
She also thanked profoundly the people who had contributed to the development of her personal and professional life. She attended Bishop’s High School. At university Dr Jerome Delisle was rather instrumental in her success. She graduated from the St Augustine campus with First Class Honours) specialising in Social Studies. She intends to read for a Masters in Education soon. Meanwhile, she is looking forward to attending an Effective Schools Conference at Arizona, USA next month.
Advice for teachers
Quizzed on her advice for teachers, she said: “Don’t be afraid to try new things and unconventional methods to get the students to learn. Once there is determination and that fighting spirit, success would come as sure as night follows day.”
Parlatuvier principal Aaron Reid said: “The school has been elated. It has strengthened our motivation to proceed further toward our goal.” First vice president of TTUTA)/Teacher of the Year 2010 Devanand Sinanan said: “She is a worthy successor. She will carry the flag well. She is a very good candidate for the post of teacher of the year.”
A Note From The Gull
Thank you, Isabel Burris-Paul. If I had $2 million dollars lying around, I'd think that a Teacher of the Year would be among the most deserving recipients. I am very proud of you. Parlatuvier is a lucky place. Thanks also to all the teachers who also won awards and all the others in T&T who love what they do and never lose sight, through all the hardships, of the children that they teach and their futures.
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.
Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.
Mweh ka allay!