Kitson Town educators honoured with Leslie Hanson Award Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Educators from early childhood and primary schools across Kitson Town, St. Catherine, have been honored with the inaugural Leslie Hanson Distinguished Educator Award for their exceptional dedication to teaching and community service.

The award which included plaques, and gift baskets and tailormade tokens, were presnted to the awardees at a ceremony held on Teacher’s Day, May 8, at the Kitson Town Resorce Centre, with a keynote address by Secretary General of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Dr. Mark Nicely.

The honouress were late Principal of the Dover Basic School, Yvette Facey-Nixon, retired Vice Principal of the Kitson Town Primary School, Juliet Lattibeaudier, retired Principal of the Paul’s Mountain School, Marjorie Brown, Principal of the Ackles Hill Basic School, Paulette Washington-Forbes, Reading Teacher at the Kitson Town Primary School, Mariana Francis, and former teacher at the Paul’s Mountain All Age School, John Golding.

“This award serves as source of inspiration to spur me on my journey which I started 23 years ago,” stated Mariana Francis, adding that she has been inspired by the recognition “because it is not often the nation’s teachers are recognised for their work and worth, within their institutions, or by external agencies and bodies,” she told her audience.

Another honouree, Paulette Washington-Forbes said she was humbled by the honour, and “this award not only acknowledge our dedication, and effort, but also enlightens the importance of community involvement in education. We are committed to continuing our work, and to making positive impact on the lives of children and families,” she said.

The event was organised by the Kitson Town Civic Committee, and Chairman of the group, Garfield Angus said the teachers were recognised for the work they do in the classroom, and “more importantly, every time you reach a child, in special ways, you are ensuring that the future is beautiful for all,” he said.

The Chairman also lauded the late Leslie Hanson for shaping the lives of his students in a “beautiful manner,” through his hard work and dedication. “We are happy to celebrate this day, to show how grateful we are for what you have done as a teacher, and as a Justice of the Peace (JP),” Angus said.

In her address, Juliet Lattibeaudier remembered Hanson as a “true beacon” of inspiration and guidance, in the field of teaching, and stood as a “shining example and transformative influence,” embodying “visionary educators with forward thinking,” she said.

Further, the former Vice Principal said Hanson also revolutionised the classroom with creativity and imparted valuable knowledge to his students. “He served as a compassionate guide and steadfast supporter, nurturing the next generation of leaders, with wisdom and empathy,” she said. The event had sponsorship from the JTA, Digicel Foundation, CDACC Holdings Limited, Ashman’s Foods, Guardian Life Foundation, Juci Beer, SSE Wholesale Groceries and More, and other entities and individuals.

The late Mr Hanson formalised early childhood education in Kitson Town. He was a teacher in the sector, and then he moved up to primary education, and taught at the then Kitson Town All-Age School, where he inspired many young people in the Kitson Town communities. After his retirement from the education system, his work in the community continued as a Justice of the Peace, Baptist Deacon, and a community elder.

His daughter, Dr Paulett Hanson Kenwood, said the family was grateful for the honour and remembrance of her father, stressing that he was not “just a teacher, daddy was everything. We have to show gratitude to those who came before us, and set the pace for us,” she told her audience.

The JTA Secretary General, Dr Mark Nicely called on persons to look out for others, as giving back must be part of their regular routine. “Mr Hanson has done a great job, he has left a legacy, the challenge is to exceed him. He had a vision, and he didn’t keep it to himself-he shared it, and inspired others,” he said, while urging the honoures to exercise mentorship and leadership in their communities.

The Kitson Town Civic Committee was established in 2017. Since then, it has honoured two early childhood educators who gave almost 100 years of service to the community. In 2022, it painted the Kitson Town Basic School, and prior to that, members of the group raised computer tablets and other support for teachers at the Kitson Town Basic School. In 2023, the group honoured nine community builders, which included a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).