Stalwart Educator Recognized

No. 30 Friday, December 11, 2009  
        Sixty two year-old stalwart in the field of education, Lincoln James, after a prolific and inspiring 44 years in his field as a teacher and administrator, was officially acknowledged and recognized at a church service and an appreciation ceremony on November 29, 2009.
        The surprise event, which was spearheaded by the teachers of the Howard Cooke Primary, saw several bus loads of teachers, students, relatives and friends gathered at the Salter’s Hill Baptist Church to pay tribute to their father, teacher, mentor, confidant and friend.
        He was then transported in a stretched limousine to Sunset Beach Resort & Spa Hotel with his beautiful wife Jean.
        “This is one the happiest moments of my life, I now know that there were so many people who were appreciative of what I was doing,” said the phenomenal teacher. Mr. James did not. get a chance to finish basic school, neither did he attend high school. However, he found a way to excel into an extra ordinary educator.
        The morning service was punctuated with greeting, hugs, smiles and testimonies, by many whose lives were changed by this great, yet humble son of Hanover, who, against all odds, had achieved tremendous success academically, and has etched his signature as one of the architects of many innovations.
        Chief among them was a skit from little Joeiann and Shanae which highlighted the fatherly figure who took time out to talk, comfort and inspire them, sometimes through stern disciplinary measures.
        Shernette Mignot was among his first batch of students from John’s Hall All-Age School to pass the common entrance exams in 1976. She said her dream began with a teacher who believed in her “A teacher who hugs and pushes and leads you to next plateau,” said Mignot.
        The Rev Dr Vivian Panton who gave him his first teaching job at the John’s Hail MI-Age School described the education stalwart in his sermon as “model for service”.
        Hugs and kisses ended the morning service but the surprises were not over for him. He departed the church with his wife but on reaching John’s Halt square a fully loaded, shining black limousine Was awaiting him. “I was flabbergasted that I was treated as a hero” he said.
        The picturesque lawn of Sunset Beach formed a wonderful back drop as the tributes again poured in.
        JTA’s Evelyn Tugwell took time out to encourage teachers to take a leaf from Mr. James book. “The JTA wishes to put on record sincere thanks to Mr. James for his achievement as District Association President of upper St. James, Parish Association President, St. James, representative to the general council, member of the central executive, and representative to the annual conference,” she said.
        Of note was a special plaque from his first common entrance class of 1976 which was bestowed by Trevor Matheson, who spoke glowingly of the stern and disciplined teacher who later was his captain in the 82nd Boys Brigade.
        In response to the wonderful evening, the lanky father of four boys, stepped to the podium to tell his story.
        He said of all the schools he taught, the memory of Howard Cook will linger for a long time. Describing the School as a university, Mr. James admitted that, it was a home away from home. “I had a flexible hoard, supportive parents and a wonderful set of teachers who were the wind beneath my wings”. He said the l6 years were well spent. “I did it my way, not to please my self, just to do a good job.”
        His life story gave hope, and inspired many. He said, despite being a high achiever at the elementary level, he was unable to sit the common entrance exam due to the sudden death of his father in 1961, and was forced to stay four years in 6 class (grade 9). That same year, however, he passed the 3D Jamaica local and begun his illustrious teaching career at age 18 at Jerico Primary, as a pre-trained teacher.
         Determined to catch up with other students who went to high school, he enrolled into the Caledonia College and did an emergency four months course which helped him into Mico College in 1967.
        Graduating in 1970 with his teacher’s certificate he joined John’s Hall for a six years stint. During his time there he was promoted to acting principal and gave that school their first batch of common entrance students. He would then spend 11 years at Irwin Primary, during which time he enrolled at UWI for the certificate in Education and his Bachelors.
        By this time he was now a sought after teacher and was snatched by Maldom secondary where he spent five years and the final leg at Howard Cook where he did his longest stint of sixteen years.

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