shrieks of excitement when the announcement was made that Maygan Duncanson was teacher of the year at Kensington Basic School in St Catherine on Wednesday spoke to the level of support the educator has found in her colleagues.
An unlikely teacher by any measure, this parent-turned educator is a success story.
The news was shared at a celebration with her colleagues at Kensington Basic School, as the educators and the rest of the nation celebrated Teachers’ Day.
As she was flanked by her colleagues, who were brought to tears as they hooted and cheered her on, the Class One teacher did not hesitate in sharing that she was a parent who would always volunteer in the classroom before getting much encouragement to acquire teaching qualifications.
“My son and daughter usually attended this school — they are now in high school — and since then I have always been here, helping around from time to time, and the teachers would leave me in the classroom,” said Duncanson shortly after crying tears of joy.
“Miss Brissett [principal], who saw the potential in me, always encouraged me to go to school to study for early childhood education and I would always say I can’t do it because I never wanted to do lesson plans,” she said.
Her fear later turned to bravery, as a little extra push from her colleagues moved Duncanson to get her level three diploma in early childhood education.
To her surprise, a permanent space in the classroom was already at the school for her.
“Miss Brissett’s last words to me were, ‘I am going to put you in a classroom and you must go and do the course and you will have a space in one of these classrooms whether assisting or being the teacher of that classroom’,” she said.
“I did not know that a vacancy was open at the time for me to be the teacher of that classroom. She eventually told me to go and start the teaching studies and I went and it wasn’t too hard and I successfully came out with my diploma,” added Duncanson.
For her teacher of the year recognition, Duncanson was gifted with a laptop from Digicel Foundation.
Duncanson told the Jamaica Observer that the laptop will make teaching easier, as she would usually use her smartphone to get her lessons across to students.
“I used it to do my lesson plans as well, I really needed a laptop. Whenever I am doing an activity such as story time, I would introduce the story and walk through the class with my phone to show my students the story pictures. I also did the same thing when teaching ABCs and the months of the year. With the laptop now, I can just open it and put it somewhere in the classroom where they would all see it,” she said.
“I work very hard, I am a very dedicated person who loves children. I wasn’t expecting this, but I am glad for my colleagues who pushed me. It’s not only about the teaching but the sense of connection and affection I have with the children,” said Duncanson, adding that she has plans of furthering her teaching studies.
Some of her colleagues eagerly shared that she was well deserving of the recognition.
“I am so happy with the two teachers who were awarded as they have done exceptionally well. Mrs Duncanson stepped out of her shell and she is doing an awesome job,” said Bridgette Harrison.
While another teacher, Verone Thompson, said, “I have been here for about 12 years and it’s the first I am experiencing anything like this. I was one of the teachers who encouraged Duncanson to go and do the course because I know she had the potential.”
Ettaha Leighton, runner-up teacher of the year who received a gift basket, added, “Duncanson really loves her job. Sometimes she might not be so confident but we always encourage her and work with her, she is always willing.”
The staff, which included administrative workers, ancillary workers and 10 teachers, were feted to a full course meal courtesy of Honey and Almond Catering and the school’s PTA body.
Additionally, they received spa vouchers from Digicel Jamaica.
Digicel Jamaica Foundation board member Dave Michael Laing said when the school wrote to the group, it was a no-brainer in offering assistance to the educators.
“I can tell that they love the gifts. We always say that sometimes teachers aren’t appreciated and today we just had to give them some appreciation because without teachers there is no me, no us, they develop the future generations,” he said.