After 42 years, veteran teacher and administrator, Valerie Wade is still in love with the profession she has chosen.
The principal and operator of the Bright Horizon Basic School in Montego Bay, St. James, is proud on her more than four decades in education, and notes that teaching is one of, if not the most respected profession.
She says teaching, while challenging, is very gratifying and only persons with a genuine love for the classroom should take up teaching.
“The profession is still very attractive. My advice is to enter the profession with the view of making a difference in the lives of their students. You have some teachers who are just teaching, while others are building minds for the future…there is a difference and those in the profession must understand…make up your mind that you want to become a teacher…be patient with the students and you will be successful,” she advises.
Mrs. Wade was among 10 early childhood educators, who were recently honoured by the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), during a special 10th anniversary luncheon staged by the Commission in Montego Bay.
The educator is expressing gratitude to the ECC, noting that at no time was she expecting to be recognised for doing a job that she truly loves. She admitted, however, that it feels good to be honoured as it shows that her contribution is valued.
“It’s great to be honoured…I enjoyed every minute of it (teaching). Sometimes what you do, you do not even feel as if it is being noticed and then you see someone highlighting what you do and you say to yourself, I really did something good,” she says, noting that she will proudly display the award at the school.
A native of Portland, Mrs. Wade attended Portland High School before going on to Shortwood Teachers’ College and the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Kingston. She has also studied at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Montego Bay and at the Connecticut State University in the United States.
She taught at the Skeebo and St. Margaret’s Bay Primary schools in Portland before relocating to St. James where she says, she made her greatest contribution as an educator.
She taught at the Cambridge and Catherine Hall Primary schools in the parish before becoming Principal of the DRG Grant Basic School. She now owns and operates her own school, the Bright Horizon Basic.
Reflecting on her service to education, Mrs. Wade says she fells proud and honoured to have assisted in the building of young minds. “It’s a very good feeling when you are able to …watch as these many students turn out to be productive men and women, who are now making a valuable contribution to nation building,” she tells JIS News.
She says she has taught some of the best students the island has produced. “I have also had the opportunity of even studying with some of them at (UWI) where we shared fond memories. It also gives me a good feeling to be currently teaching the children of my former students,” she notes.
“I cherish every moment I have spend with the hundreds of students whom I have taught or come across in my life as a teacher,” she adds.
Meanwhile, after 42 years in the classroom, Mrs. Wade has no immediate plans to retire.
“As long as the Lord gives me health and strength, I will continue. I just love working with young children. When we have school leaving exercises and I look at how my children are handling themselves…when I watch them through to grade one and beyond and they perform well, it gives me a feeling of pride…so as long as I can, I will continue working with early childhood education,” she tells JIS News.
Mrs. Wade has been married to Horace for 37 years and the union has produced four girls – Taneisha, Vandrea, Elorna and Yolanda, who are members of the very accomplished gospel group ‘Wade Sisters’.
“My four girls have benefited from my instructions too and I am very proud of their achievements so far…I am a proud mother to my biological four, and to the many whom I have taught or played the role of a mother or a big sister,” she tells JIS News.