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JTA Honours Outstanding Educator

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The 2012 recipient of the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) Roll of Honour awardee, Byron Farquharson, has no regrets about the more than 40 years he has dedicated to the education system.

While stating that his career was “one of challenges”, he said it was nonetheless, “very rewarding”.

“I have gained tremendous riches by impacting the lives of others,”

Mr. Farquharson said, while accepting the prestigious award from JTA President, Clayton Hall, at a recent ceremony held at the Wyndham Kingston.

“I received support from various persons,” he said, crediting the staff at the various institutions he served and family members.

Mr. Farquharson also imparted words of advice to his peers, whom he urged to regard themselves as among the nation’s leaders and invited them to join him in continuing to give “nothing but our best”.

“Our children, our country demands the best of all of us. Not all our teachers will get the Roll of Honour, but all of us can hear ‘well done thou good and faithful servant’,” he stated.

As the 43rd Honour Roll inductee, the retired Principal of the Mandeville Primary and Junior High School in Manchester, joins 42 other distinguished educators, recognized by the association for outstanding and dedicated service to the profession, since the award’s inception in 1977.

Sponsored by Berger Paints Jamaica Limited since 1992, the award celebrates excellence in education, and recognises the pioneering and outstanding contributions by teachers in the classroom, to the communities where they live and work, at the national level, and to the JTA.

A glowing citation from the JTA, chronicling Mr. Farquharson’s career recounted his entry into the profession in 1969, as a 17 year old pre-trained teacher recruited by the Fairfield All Age School in his home parish, Manchester, having just graduated from the Knockalva Agricultural School in Hanover.

After spending a year at Fairfield, he enrolled at the Mandeville-based Church Teachers College, where he pursued the Certificate in Education programme, specializing in Mathematics, Science and Physical Education. He did his internship at Alston High School in Clarendon, before returning to Manchester where he taught at Belair Preparatory School in Mandeville for two years.

He later went on to Bellfield Junior Secondary School, also in Manchester, before taking on his first administrative appointment – that of Principal of the Patrick Town All Age School in the south of the parish in 1977. During his six-year tenure, he was integrally involved in a number of initiatives towards the school’s development, including the installation of electricity; expansion of the academic curriculum; and general upgrading of the school’s facilities.

In 1983, Mr. Farquharson took up the position of Principal at Pepper All Age School in St. Elizabeth, where he oversaw the successful implementation of several projects such as the construction of a fully equipped multi-purpose building to house the home economics and woodwork programmes; development of a library; and establishment of a school farm, which supported the school’s nutrition programme.

However, Mr. Farquharson’s vision for quality education would be fully manifested during his tenure at the Mandeville Primary and Junior High School, which welcomed him as Principal in 1992.

Almost immediately, he set about effecting the total transformation of the learning environment, to convert it into one of the most sought after primary schools in the parish.

The magnitude of the transformation, including the development of computer and science laboratories, a reading room, home economics centre, and a multi-purpose games court, has yielded significant dividends over the years, as the school has consistently recorded the highest scores in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) among Manchester institutions, and performed creditably in numerous competitions, including the Spelling Bee, and Junior Schools Challenge Quiz.

Not content to limit his input to the classroom, Mr. Farquharson, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education Administration and a Master’s Degree in Education, joined the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) and Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT), which provided him with the platform and channels through which he could contribute tangibly to the professional development of his peers.

A member of the JTA since 1973, Mr. Farquharson joined the organization’s West Manchester District Association, and was eventually elected President of the

St. Elizabeth and Manchester Parish Associations.  He has also served on the JTA’s Salaries and Conditions of Service Committee, and General Council and Central Executive, as well as the organization’s representative on the National Council on Education (NCE).

Mr. Farquharson’s outstanding contribution to education across four decades earned him a number of awards. These include : the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation; the JTA’s R.C. Tavares Award, and the organization’s 25th anniversary scholarship to the UWI. He has also been recognized by Church Teachers College; Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT); and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).

Mr. Farquharson, who is married with two grown sons, currently serves as Justice of the Peace for Manchester, and is an Elder at the New Beulah Moravian Church in Mandeville.

In his message, read by Custos of Kingston, Hon. Steadman Fuller, Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, congratulated

Mr. Farquharson and commended him for his contribution to education.

The Governor-General, who is Patron of the Award, said that Mr. Farquharson helped to rekindle hope and lobbied passionately for better economic conditions and enhancement of professional standards in the educational field. “His exemplary service is appropriately recognized by this award,” he added.

Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, in his address, commended Mr. Farquharson, noting that he, along with his contemporaries, had “sacrificed everything in order that the next generation (would) have a better life”.

“Indeed, he follows in the footsteps of many who have understood the realities of our times and the exigencies of progressive education, (thereby enabling us), within our existing resources, to meet the challenges of our time,” Rev. Thwaites said.

Berger Paints’ Managing Director, Warren McDonald, described Mr. Farquharson as a distinguished educator, who helped to nurture young minds and, in the process, “build capacity to further influence the process of nation-building”.

“Our 2012 Roll of Honour awardee, Byron Farquharson, and the 42 educators who have received this award, since its inception, have achieved enormous gains through their personal effort and commitment to do for education. They have provided a blueprint to guide us…and it is now up to us to take up the mantle for Jamaica,” Mr. McDonald said.

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