Home - The Star
November 27, 2012
Star Features


 

A teacher with a special touch
Elgin Taylor, Star Writer



Dorothy Sutherland - Elgin Taylor

If aspirants to the teaching profession believe that it is all glitz and glamour, they would be surely mistaken. It is hard, dedicated work with unusual hours which cut into your weekends and time for socialisation. The job often requires going beyond the prescribed curriculum to include personality grooming.

This is the general picture painted by Dorothy Sutherland, a teacher at Ensom City Primary School in Spanish Town, St Catherine, in a recent interview with THE STAR.

"In preparing them (the students), it is like preparing the whole person. You have to prepare them mentally, emotionally and physically. You have to talk to them about nutrition, how to behave, how to manage their time effectively for work and play," she stated.

She also pointed out that the teacher needs to teach the students how to apply knowledge gained earlier to their present situation.

She informed THE STAR that she currently coaches members of the Junior Schools' Challenge Quiz team, and that normally sessions are held from morning to evening on most weekends. She reported that the team has been making steady progress.

In respect of her substantive grade-six class, the soft-spoken educator said her students have done well over the years. In the last Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) results, a number of them gained places at prominent traditional schools like Immaculate Conception High, Ardenne High, Wolmers, Jamaica College, Kingston College and St Jago High School.

Special touch

Part of Sutherland's success as a teacher is attributed to what her colleagues have come to regard as the 'special touch'.

"I have been told that I have this special touch. This is because of my ability to turn misbehaving, non-performing students into gentle, hard-working individuals. This usually comes as a surprise to my colleagues and the parents, who usually show their appreciation," she noted.

She spoke about the love and care for each student, and the fact that she starts each school day by having a brief talk session with them about the type of behaviour required for success, and how to study and manage their time. She also uses tokens and other forms of reward as a feature of her teaching strategy.

Legal-Aid secretary

But Sutherland's sojourn into the teaching profession nearly didn't happen, because, initially, she wanted to become a legal secretary. After completing her CXCs and GCE 'O' Levels exams, she worked in the private sector as a supervisor and quality controller at the Kingston Free Zone, and as a production clerk with Sherwin Williams Limited.

It was while teaching Sabbath School that a member suggested that, based on her ability, she should consider getting trained as a teacher. She took his advice and later attended Shortwood Teachers' College and Mico University College, gaining a diploma in primary education and a bachelor's degree in language and literacy respectively, from these institutions.

She taught at Half-Way Tree Primary School in 2001 before joining the staff at Ensom City Primary on September 1, 2002.

Her present class of 31 students is a mixed-ability grouping. She is, however, expecting great things from them at the next GSAT sitting.

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