Teacher turns inner-city walls into blackboards

May 15, 2020
Tandeka McKoy-Phipps
Tandeka McKoy-Phipps

From as early as 6 a.m., early childhood teacher Tandeka McKoy-Phipps can be seen making rounds in several St Andrew South communities, writing schoolwork on community notice boards or walls.

For the Union Gardens Infant School teacher, it is not just about setting work, but a means of empowering parents and students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In addition to Delacree Lane where I am from, I also write lessons on the boards in Payne Avenue, Union Gardens, McKoy Lane, and Tavares Gardens. I go to these communities every day to repeat the process. I then go home and get some rest and then later I will attend to the queries of parents and children from my class. The residents of these communities have welcomed it. Every child should have an opportunity to get an education during these challenging times," she said.


McKoy-Phipps, who has been an educator for two decades, decided to do a walk-through and to see which communities really needed this type of intervention.

"Children are just running up and down loosely. It is not every parent that understands how to manipulate the online sites to pull down the work, but with the community boards, they can just take pictures or write off the notes for the children," she added.

Phipps stated that a few of the residents were a bit skeptical, especially when they saw her painting the walls.

"Some never understood the importance of it, but they gravitated to the idea when they saw me returning each day. They could always tell that I was a teacher by my approach, and fear was never once in my mind because I know that what I am doing is for good and God will ensure my protection," she said. She also gets parents involved.

"Twice weekly I will have a parent centred virtual classroom on Zoom to teach the parents how to be a substitute for me in giving lessons to their children. Some of the lessons I might send by WhatsApp or use that app to explain it. I feel really good when I see the parents bragging about getting the teaching right," she said.

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