Passion for education - Veteran teacher says every child can learn - Believes GSAT not meeting students' needs

Published: Wednesday | March 25, 2009

Petrina Francis, Staff Reporter

Lizette Morrison, principal of the Tulloch Primary School in Bog Walk, St Catherine, is surrounded by her grade five students at the institution yesterday. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

She knows no other job but teaching. Lizette Morrison, principal of Tulloch Primary School, has been nurturing young minds for 40 years and would have it no other way.

Morrison, who wanted to dedicate her life to caring for the sick, attempted to get into nursing school but that did not materialise. In 1970, she was given an offer to matriculate at Mico College and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Sense of satisfaction

Thirty-four of her 40 years in education have been at Tulloch Primary School, which is tucked away in the quiet community of Knollis in Bog Walk, St Catherine.

Teaching, she says, gives her a sense of satisfaction that no other job could.

"Education is my passion. When you see the students form that letter, you receive joy because they have delivered," said Morrison, who started out teaching at the grade one level.

"If I had a chance, I would do it all over again and make it Tulloch Primary," said Morrison, who has been at the helm of the institution since 2001.

She is a firm believer in the Ministry of Education's mantra that 'Every Child Can Learn, Every Child Must Learn'.

"No one could come to my class and not perform. If you don't get it right, you must at least attempt," said Morrison, adding that she never marks an 'X' in her students' books. Instead, she puts a dot and has them work on the problem until they get it right.

Wants academic challenges

As almost 50,000 students gear up to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) tomorrow and Friday, Morrison said the test which guides the placement of students in secondary schools was not meeting the needs of all students.

In fact, she wants the Government to channel students with academic challenges through a special programme rather than having them sit the GSAT.

"This, I think, would make them improve because they would be working with students at their own level," she said.

She also said GSAT was a placement examination and, no matter what happens, students would be placed in an institution. This, she said, causes some students not to put their all because they would inevitably be placed.

The 59-year-old, who hails from Westmoreland, has one son and a grandson. She is an Anglican and worships at the St Thomas-Ye-Vale Church in Bog Walk.

The soft-spoken educator said she was concerned that more parents were not involved in their children's education. She noted that some parents go to school on the first day and they are never seen again until graduation.

Little emphasis

Morrison said the area in which the school is located is predominantly a farming community and parents do not put much emphasis on primary education. There are 840 students enrolled at Tulloch Primary, which is on a shift system.

"About 20 per cent are not attending classes regularly and you find that they are dropped from the PATH programme," she said.

In 2000, Morrison graduated from the University of the West Indies with a bachelor's degree in education. She is now a third-year student at The Mico University College, where she is reading for a master's degree in teaching.

"I believe you should be the best you can be, no matter how hard it may seem," said the veteran educator.

She continues to live by the motto of Mico, 'Do it with your might'.

Morrison will next year exit the schoolyard and go into retirement.

While she plans to do some travelling and spend more time with her grandson, she hates the thought of not being at school.

"I can't imagine a Monday morning and it is not school, so I am trying to prepare myself for that," she said.