The Campion Teacher

Tonight, we honour 29 of the very best people dedicated to education in Jamaica. Each has given 10 or more years of service to our beloved Campion College and each has demonstrated a special commitment and passion for nurturing young minds.

In the beautiful words of Tracy Chapman:
I’ve seen and met angels wearing the disguise
Of ordinary people leading ordinary lives
Filled with love, compassion, forgiveness and sacrifice

Those we honour today are not ordinary people. They are not ordinary teachers. They are Campion Teachers; champions in a league of their own. 

As Carl Jung wrote: “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.” Our teachers have taught so much more than curriculum, and while Campion’s 50-year history overflows with academic accolades, awards, and scholarships, the most important testimony is that our graduates live the values of the school, and in truth become ‘men and women for others’. 

For all this and so much more, we are compelled to recognize these men and women tonight. They are as much Campionites as are our students and graduates. They are very special people who have shown tremendous zeal, drive, loyalty and dedication. Campion College has been blessed that they remain excited to devote, quite often, half their lives to our children.

Their dedication to Campion’s vision and mission, their genuine care for Campionites, and their persistence in the face of challenges and disappointment serve to inspire us all. Generations have passed through their hands, benefiting from instruction in all disciplines, and thankfully also in matters of life. We also have a hard working administrative staff, who provide tremendous support, and whose patience, good humour and care continue to be a source of delight and wonder.

Ten to fourteen years is the time it takes the Blue Mahoe to grow from its seed to become a mature tree. In that time, Mrs. Joycelyn Barton, Ms. Suzanne Barton, Ms. Narda Manderson, Mr. Devon Reid, Mr. Neil Blake and Mr. Ryan Martell have each grown at Campion. Thank you for your loyalty and service, as like the Mahoe, so many children have flourished in your shade.

In 15-19 years, the children born this year may be the next of the proud line of Campion graduates. We can but hope that Mrs. Angela Alcock, Mrs. Nadine Fearon-Johnson, Mrs. Helen Gordon, Mrs. Connie Reid-Neil, Mr. Earl Simpson, Ms. Karen Martin-Johnson, Mrs. Celia Webster and Mrs. Coleen Williams-Lyn will still be here to guide the next generation–just as they long have–by igniting an enthusiasm for learning. 

To quote Jacques Barzun, “In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.” To the teachers who have been with us for 20-24 years, we know that you now see the fruits of your work, in your fresh-faced students who are themselves now change makers, here in Jamaica and around the world. To Mrs. Cynthia Allen Pearson, Ms Karen Armstrong, Mr. David Henry, Ms Kathryn Stewart, Mrs. Paulette Fairweather, and Miss Audrey Lynch, we say thank you for making Campion a longstanding part of your lives. To Ms. Sherril Shaw and Mrs. Cheryll Pearson, so much of our history has passed through your hands and we are thrilled that in so many ways you remain keepers of the flame.

While silver is the symbol of 25 years, the love and respect we have for two teachers is timeless. To Mr. Brian Phillpotts-Brown, Coach and Director of Sports, a father to so many, and Mrs. Joan Wallace, Form Supervisor and doting mother to all, we love that you do all that you do. We love that you are here.

And finally, we recognise those who have distinguished themselves through service of 30 years and more; three decades of developing the talents, skills and intellect of thousands of students. For them it’s never just about doing well in school, it was always about doing well in life. To them, it’s not just these children, it has been our children. To them it was always about the promise that thrives in every boy and girl that enters Campion; the promise of not just success, but the promise of changing the world.

Our hearts overflow with admiration, with respect, with gratitude. It is said that “good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths pure theatre.” You have all been lead actors and role models in the theatre of life. To our Dean of Studies and Vice Principal, Miss Sheila “Bertha” Barrett who once struck fear in the hearts of many as the invincible Dean of Discipline, but who has always revelled in the joy of 105 Hope Road; our serene Art teacher and Form Supervisor Mrs. Filene Bowen-Lawson who has inspired the power of creativity; our vibrant and unforgettable Biology teacher and Form Supervisor Mrs. Jean Chin who has served in so many different capacities at Campion – including house moderator, concert and competition organiser; our inimitable Chemistry and Mathematics teacher and Head of Department Mr. Kesang “Kippy” Chin whose ‘Yes sir, I see it sir’ continues to reverberate through the years; and our brave Dean of Discipline and Mathematics teacher Mrs. Frantz Johnson; to them we say thank you on behalf a grateful Campion family, a family that treasures your role in building our school, a role that cannot be counted, cannot be measured.

We thank you all for your service and we acknowledge your dedication, your sacrifice, and most importantly, your decision to be a part of Campion. We also want to recognize the support of your loved ones – some of whom are here tonight. We know that in the battle between work and home, that work has often won. We appreciate your gift of so many things undone, so much family time unspent. We hope that you know and feel the deep appreciation of a school that would not be the same without each and every one of you. As William Shakespeare recognises, “There is no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.”