Teachers from across the country were recognized today as part of Education Showcase 2017 for excelling in their profession.  Eight outstanding teachers and school leaders took the spotlight at the annual event. News Five’s Duane Moody was present for the ceremony that lasted more than two hours.

Duane Moody, Reporting

“The best teachers open up young minds, showing them the wonders of the intellect. They exercise the mental muscle of students, stretching and strengthening so they can make challenging decisions, find their way in the work and become independent” – Those are the words of Joanna Fuch that resonated today at the 2017 annual Outstanding Teachers and School Leaders of the Year Award Ceremony, held at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts. In the company of their peers and other stakeholders in the system, educators—the best of the best—were honored by the Ministry of Education for exemplary work.

Rosaline Bradley, Chairperson, Belize Board of Teacher Education

“As our country celebrates education showcase 2017 under the theme, “Collaborating in Education for the Development of our Nation,” it is only fitting that the Ministry of Education recognizes and thank our teachers and school leaders of excellence.”

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“I am aware of the sacrifice, the selflessness, the dedication and the great sense of responsibility that teachers and the school leaders bring to bear each day. And on behalf of our Government of Belize, through the Ministry of Education, I thank and I salute our Belizean educators for all their contributions.”

The teaching profession is essential because as educators, they are role models who influence the youth. As a result, significant investments have been made by the Ministry of Education in teacher and leadership training.

Patrick Faber

“We must continue the endeavor to ensure that schools are staffed by trained and qualified teachers, principals and vice principals who are qualified to lead and school managers who are qualified and are effective.”

There were numerous nominees in the pre-primary, primary, second and tertiary levels as well as special education and technical/vocational. And the winners of the 2016 awards for outstanding teachers are Claudia Smith from Yo Creek Community Preschool, Syannie Cawich of San Francisco R.C. School and Keisha Gentle of the Stella Maris School.

Claudia Smith, Most Outstanding Pre-Primary School Teacher 2016

“I started in 1992 when it first opened its door. To me it is a privilege and honor; you have to have patience, know how to deal not only with our children, but also get along with our staff members. We are sometimes the teacher, sometimes we are the psychologist, sometimes we have to be the doctor and sometimes we even have to play the mother and father.”

Syannie Cawich, Most Outstanding Primary School Teacher 2016

“I believe that the children themselves make me an outstanding teacher without children. I believe that if I do all the work, then it is not really anything because they are the ones at the end that will benefit from it.”

Keisha Gentle, Most Outstanding Special Education Teacher 2016

“Teachers need to be patient, they need to be considerate. When it comes to their planning, don’t just plan because you need to plan, but plan in mind that you have X amount of children in your class. And whatever plan you plan, you should be able to meet each and every individual, even if it is the child that can’t write. Have that child be included and not left out.”

Paul Kelly from San Pedro High School, Erlin Puc from Cayo Center for Employment Training and Leonard Mortis from the University of Belize also took top spots for the secondary, technical vocational and tertiary levels.

Meanwhile, from the seven school leader nominees shortlisted, Dana Staine of Stella Maris School and Omar Longsworth from Independence High School for the primary and secondary categories.

Dana Staine, Most Outstanding Primary School Leader 2016

“A leader is someone who knows the way, shows the way and follows the way. To be a leader, you have to lead by example, you have to model all the skills you possession to be a good quality leader.”

Omar Longsworth, Most Outstanding Secondary School Leader 2016

“You have to definitely demonstrate a significant degree of commitment and dedication to what you do. Over the twenty-six years that I have been at this institution, I’ve found it necessary to place significant time and energy into the development of this institution in every faucet of its existence. We are talking about student life, we are talking about teacher’s life, we are talking about facility, about curriculum offerings and you have to commit fully as a leader to ensure that you can address all of these issues.”

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