"Give me an L; Give me an I; Give me an F; Give me an E; What does it spell? - LIFE - Education is a way of LIFE." These are the cheers that for the past three years have been heard during parades and other functions around town by the children and teachers of one of San Pedro's newest schools - Lydia's Institute of Fine Education (LIFE). This new institute is a dream come true to one of San Pedro's most respected women - Mrs. Lydia Guerrero.
She was born in Caye Caulker to Marcial and Nellie Alamina where she lived for a short two years after which her family decided to move to Nicaragua. There Lydia Alamina attended primary school for eight years. Again her family moved, to her birth place Caye Caulker where she attended Caye Caulker R.C. School and then to Belize City were she ended her primary school education at St. Joseph's Primary. Ms. Lydia attended Palotti High School (an all girl's school) after receiving a government scholarship for top ranking students who sat the Primary and Entrance Exams. In 1973 she graduated from Palotti High and continued her studies, majoring in Secretarial Sciences at St. John's College 6th Form. Since she can recall, Ms. Lydia had always been interested in the teaching profession.
Immediately after graduating from St. John's College she started teaching at Palotti High School. She did this for two years but felt the need to gain more experience in secretarial subjects, which was the field she was teaching. She went to work as an Executive Secretary to the General Manager of Belize Airways Limited in 1977. Two years later, a vacancy in the newspaper advertising for a teacher at San Pedro High School caught her attention and she responded to it. Her application was accepted and Ms. Lydia ventured into the job on the small island that would change her life. Upon her arrival, Mrs. Celi McCorkle of the Holiday Hotel who, at the time was the Chairlady for San Pedro High, offered her free boarding until she got settled. Ms. Lydia stayed at the Holiday Hotel for two months after which she moved in with the Kumul family who accepted and treated her as a family member. At San Pedro High School Ms. Lydia taught the commercial/secretarial subjects including typing, shorthand, accounting and office procedures. In addition, she also taught some arts and crafts. She introduced Career Day to the students as well as the internship program for the senior commercial students. In just a short time Ms. Lydia won the hearts of the students of San Pedro High (and this writer vouches for this 100%).
Ms. Lydia met her spouse Horacio Guerrero here and in 1981 married him. Together they have three children Horacio Guerrero Jr. now 17 and a Senior, Belinda now 15 and a Sophomore, both at San Pedro High and Alexis now 8 who attends Standard I at LIFE. In her spare time she enjoys doing personalized gift items, especially for baby showers. Ms. Lydia also does most of the graduation caps for schools on the island each year.
Mrs. Guerrero's strong family ties persuaded her to absent herself from teaching for a period of two years to attend to her family. But fortunately for many, she was requested to return in 1988. She returned, sharing her knowledge and good advice to her students until 1993 when she resigned for good. In 1994 she worked as a part time teacher at San Pedro R.C. School teaching English Language to Standard V and VI students.
Deep in the back of Ms. Lydia's mind had been an idea eager to be developed. After her children became older and with the support of her family, her dream came true. In 1996 LIFE, consisting of two buildings housing four classrooms, opened its doors to the public. Ms. Lydia had worked with teenagers, but now had the challenge of molding young children. This she did not foresee as a problem since she had raised children of her own. With the help of her able staff and the great acceptance of the public, LIFE immediately became the talk of the town. In 1997 the expansion of the school continued, as it did in 1998. Presently LIFE consists of five buildings housing six classrooms, six teachers, one assistant teacher and 93 students. The school has added extra-curricular activities such as French classes for Infant II students and upper classes. They have formed a cheerleading team and the first marching band of San Pedro. The classes also have annual trips to different sites in the country.
LIFE has been very active and very noticeable in town functions. The children submit articles to the San Pedro Sun as part of their English class and have also won 1st prize for the best float during September Celebrations for three consecutive years. The Infant I class has also recently been awarded the most original prize for their entry in the annual library arts contest.
A very interesting eye catcher at LIFE is their multi-symbolic logo. Ms. Lydia explained, "the hands with each finger of opposite hand touching each other means to get in touch with your inner self. For wisdom. This is something my grandfather taught me. The hummingbird is tiny but clever, it knows exactly where to get its substance for life. The butterfly follows the rule of life. The Belizean Flag is in honor of our country. The Mayan ruin represents our ancestors who were wise people; they always built. And their motto Education is a way of Life." Ms. Lydia continued, " I try to instill moral values to the children and I would like parents to do this at home. We are all involved in our own little worlds, possibly trying to better ourselves and we tend to forget that the children need guidance. I will never regret doing this move. We have had our ups and downs but we can get through it."
Ms. Lydia hopes to build classes up to Standard VI level in the near future. In September they will be adding Spanish classes to their curriculum and will be opening a computer room. In the future she foresees dedicating herself to principal duties only and teaching arts and crafts and home economics.
Mrs. Guerrero lives everyday firm with her motto trying to instill good values and academic knowledge to her students. In turn, our community stands firm next to her in trying to educate our children, making "Education a way of life."
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