Moulding minds has its rewards, says veteran teacher
Veteran teacher, Colleen Savory
Veteran teacher, Colleen Savory

COLLEEN Savory is more than just a teacher; she is a mother, a sister, a wife, a friend and a mentor to many people she comes in contact with.

She is a veteran teacher who invested 30 years in the public school system at the primary level, and takes her role as an educator very seriously.

Equipped with a no-nonsense attitude and the willingness to adapt to any situation, Savory told the Pepperpot Magazine that teaching was indeed a calling, and she is happy about the life decision to become a teacher.

The mother of two added that she is a staunch member of the Central Seventh Day Adventist Church at Oronoque Street, Queenstown, and is the sabbath teacher.

Savory has been married to Andre Blackman, a retired policeman, for the past 24 years, and they reside at Eccles, East Bank Demerara.

On November 8, 1993, Savory embarked on her journey as a young teacher, and started teaching at the J.E. Burnham Primary School at William Street, Kitty.

She spent three years there, and moved to St. Pius Primary School on September 1, 1996, where she taught all grades.

Presently, she is a Grade Three teacher at the transition level, and the Divisional Supervisor for Grades Three and Four for the past 15 years.

Growing up, she’d always wanted to teach and mould minds; whenever she had company at home, especially children, she would gather them up. She made it into a learning session with Bible verses and was serious about it, equipping herself with a whip and would use it if she had to, she said.

Initially, her first career choice was to become a computer consultant, and to travel the world to conduct lectures, but she fulfilled her true calling of becoming a teacher, and it was a good choice, since she never regretted it.

“I love teaching. The little things matter to me; the pep talks with the children, the hugs and smiles from their little faces certainly brighten my day, and it is quite rewarding when you love what you do. It is not a burden at all. I take my role as a teacher very seriously, and I enjoy it,” she said.

Savory likes the thought of taking the children from the known to the unknown via classroom teaching through varying methods to make learning fun, and focus more on literacy and numeracy.

She related that with the advent of technology, it could be incorporated into teaching phonics, if used effectively and in the right way.

The veteran teacher told the Pepperpot Magazine that she and the team of teachers initiated a summer programme for slow learners, which was well received.

Savory reported that the pandemic took a toll on them, and no one was prepared for it, so when face-to-face learning resumed, some pupils were left behind, academically, and had to do something to engage the children.

She related that phones were used to promote teaching, then Online teaching was initiated, and it targetted the greatly affected pupils.

Savory disclosed that the team of seven teachers came together and pitched the idea to the headteacher, and gained her approval to launch a reading camp here at the school, focusing on literacy and numeracy.

She stated that the idea was accepted by the Ministry of Education for six pupils, initially for five weeks, free of cost, but when the others found out about it, they received an overwhelming response to join.

They had to accommodate 100 pupils in the reading camp from July 17 to August 17, 2023, and it targetted children who gained less than 50 per cent marks in the annual exam.

Savory reported that they had multi-grade teaching in all grades, and she is a Grade Four teacher of children between the ages of eight-plus to nine years old. She said that the foundation must be laid at the primary level for pupils to move onto secondary schools.

On November 8, Savory will celebrate 30 years in the noble teaching profession, and says if she had to, she would do it all over again because of her love for teaching and all it entails.

“School is a comfort zone for some children; they look forward to being pampered by teachers, and to be called ‘pet names’. Due to my years of experience, I would know when something isn’t right with a child. Their facial expressions and body language say it all, and I don’t push; I wait, build trust, and, eventually, the child will open up and say whatever it is,” she explained.

Savory related that due to the confidentiality between teacher and student, they do not reveal certain things, but work with that child to have solutions, since abuse isn’t just physical anymore, but emotional as well.

She said that seeing that teachers play a very critical role in the lives of learners, they must remain professional and fulfill their duties.

Savory stated that they have to develop newer ideas through teaching aids to make learning in the classroom fun and interesting, making school a place the children want to be despite what they are going through in the home environment.

“Showing love to the children at school is very important. It breaks barriers and they are more focused there is a need for more male teachers in schools because the boys would feel more comfortable to relate to them better. I think the Ministry should make the package more attractive for male teacher to be in schools, their role is vital,” she reasoned.

Savory related that moulding minds is a two-part affair that involves parents/teachers and their lack of cooperation/participation in school events is very evident and they need to play a greater role in the welfare and interest of their children.

She is however, thankful for the Ministry’s through the National Centre of Educational Resources Development (NCERD) programme in her school which is called Innovation, Excellence and Leadership to suit every child’s academic capability to boost learning.

Savory stated that it is quite worrying that children at the primary level have unlimited access to the internet without parental guidance and censorship, causing them to see things they are quite not ready to and calls the cellbphone “a classroom with boundaries”.


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