Woman overcomes childhood poverty to become teacher
Kelly-Ann Hylton's journey to becoming an educator was far from smooth.
The 26-year-old grade four teacher at Adelphi Primary School in St James, hails from Rose Heights in the parish, an area known to have flare-ups of violence. In addition to that, Hylton faced challenges both of a financial and familial nature. She was raised by her grandfather Dennis Anglin after her mother passed away when she was six years old. She said that her father was absent.
"It was very difficult for my grandfather, as he tried his best with me. I used to attend Farm Primary and Junior High and it was like an hour walking distance from where we lived and there were times that I had to walk to school because my grandfather just couldn't afford it. There were days when I went without lunch money as well," she said. Hylton said she had her eyes set on attending Herbert Morrison Technical High School in the parish and was extremely disappointed when she did not get her first choice.
"When I heard that I passed my exams to go to Green Pond High School, I was very disappointed, especially since there were some relatives who were demotivating me and telling me that I didn't pass for a good school and other things that really discouraged me. There were times when I really missed having a mother, especially when PTA [parent teachers association] meetings were being held. I would be the only student at PTA meetings, as my grandfather was just too busy to attend. He had to work to take care of me," Hylton said. She, however, vowed to strive for excellence. She said that, throughout high school, she received financial assistance from the St James Poor Relief Department and that lightened the financial burden on her grandfather. After copping six Caribbean Examinations Council subjects, Hylton said she enrolled at Sam Sharpe Teachers' College in 2013. But her first year was far from what she expected.
"I didn't have any money and went to college by faith. I was wondering how I was going to pay for my fees and my exams and I completely failed year one. I stopped and worked for a while so I could afford the fees. In 2016, I went back to college and I got assistance again from the Poor Relief and I graduated with second class honours in 2021 and that, to me, was everything," she said. Now playing an integral role in moulding the minds of children, Hylton said that she is proud of her achievements and encourages others who are faced with challenging situations to persevere.
"Just do not give up even when you think you have hit rock bottom, because I have been there before. Just keep working towards your goals even when others are discouraging you, and never forget God in all that you are doing. There was a time when I got sick and did one of my exams from a hospital bed, that was how determined I was " she said.
As she continues to excel, Hylton said her grandfather remains her biggest cheerleader.
"Oh Lord, him walk and tell everybody in our community. He is extremely proud of me. He is now 83 years old and he worked so hard for me, so it is my time to take care of him now, " she said.