MONTEGO BAY, St James — Guided by a strict and attentive mother, educator Beverly Rose always felt she knew both her life’s destiny and chosen calling.
Rose, a 66-year-old retired school principal and recipient of the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Education, told JIS News that her love for students and passion for teaching took her straight inside the walls of a classroom after graduating from college in 1981.
Forty years later, not only has she given exceptional and invaluable service to education but her life has been filled with trailblazing accomplishments and an enviable track record of success.
She has been the recipient of the Outstanding Service Award from the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) and the Top Leader’s Award from the Ministry of Education and Youth – Region Three.
“Yes, my passion has always been for teaching… for moulding the lives of students. I have also had a passion for helping human beings on a whole… something I acquired from my mother, who was all about hard work and service to others,” Rose said.
“So, whenever I see a need that exists, I will always have that inclination to assist as best as I can. It’s such a delight to be placed in a position where I have been able to help my fellow citizens,” she added.
The former principal fondly recalls starting a breakfast programme for needy students at the Parry Town Primary School, St Ann, the first of its kind seen anywhere in that parish.
Rose said that when she saw that there were children literally dragging themselves to school without first having a breakfast, she immediately went about seeking corporate assistance to address the situation.
“I could see the pangs of hunger on their faces… kids who clearly hadn’t eaten anything since yesterday’s dinner… assuming they had much to eat. It’s almost impossible to function properly under those conditions. If you are hungry and feeling weak, then it will be extremely difficult to concentrate in class,” she argued.
Rose noted that the breakfast programme was so successful that she also went about putting together a lunch programme, crediting Sandals Resorts International, the Optimist Club, Baptist Church of Snow Hill, and other local community entities for making it possible.
She said that with both the breakfast and lunch programmes intact, Parry Town Primary, formerly one of the last resorts for some parents, became a model of consistency and a pride and joy for the community.
“Parry Town wasn’t exactly the type of community that parents wanted to send their children to, as it relates to school…unless you lived there of course,” Rose said.
“However, all that changed when we started having all kinds of success and achievements and where our children were showing a willingness to learn. What we had, changed…and seemingly overnight. Parry Town Primary became a beacon of hope. Our lights shone even brighter when we won gold medals at the national finals of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) competitions during my tenure,” she added.
Rose noted that she also instituted a mentorship programme at the school where “big brothers and sisters” would come in and mentor the students, providing supplies such as uniforms and schoolbooks, and where they would monitor the progress of students until graduation.
The educator said even though she found the ultimate satisfaction as principal of Parry Town Primary, she still had “this feeling inside” that “there was more for me to accomplish.”
Then came the idea of “starting my own thing”, which became the Ocho Rios Preparatory School, she said.
“It was a case where I was bitten by that so-called bug…where I said, you know what, I want to have my own school. I shared it with my son, and he said, mom if that’s how you feel… then go for it,” Rose said.
The former principal added that she also shared the idea with a close friend who gave her the same encouragement, and which propelled her into action.
Rose said she found a small location near the town of Ocho Rios and immediately went to work as it relates to retrofitting and getting it “school ready”.
“I left Parry Town in 2015 to start this new venture, which I named the Ocho Rios Prep School. I did all the necessary paperwork, after which I had a visit from representatives of the Ministry of Education who came to do their mandatory inspection. We had the Ministry of Health coming in to do their thing also. Suffice it to say, we passed with flying colours,” she stated.
Rose says she started out with just 20 students before the number quickly grew to more than 100 and where “we were forced to move” to a bigger location to accommodate “the growing numbers”.
“Today, we have nearly 300 students and from a wide cross section of society. We give concessionary rates, so students can attend…regardless of family status,” she said.
The Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Education is awarded annually in observance of Education Week and is presented to teachers with a minimum of 15 years’ service to education in Jamaica, whose contributions are deemed outstanding.