It is a good and noble thing to set aside a day in the yearly calender to recognize our heroes and heroine for their contibution to nation building. It is also a good gesture on that day to recognize many other Jamaicans who have given yeoman service to the development of the nation.
However, for the citizens of Bermaddy district which lies some seven miles north of Linstead, St.Catherine, it does not take a special day to recognize the sterling effort being put forward in the name of education by their principal, Michael Blair.
Michael Blair - Elgin Taylor Photo
When Blair went to Bermaddy All Age School as principal in September 1994 he found a de-motivated staff and an enrolment of 94 students.
" I realized right away what I had to do," he told The Star.
"I had to get the staff together as a unit and I also had to set about getting the support of the community," he noted.
He soon realized that many of the children from the community were taking buses to other schools. He set about the task of getting community groups like the parent-teachers' association (PTA), the senior citizens' group and members of youth clubs to become more involved in the programmes of the school.
In five years the enrolment jumped to 165 and continued its upward climb to its present figure of 340.
During the first year of his tenure at the school only one chlid passed the then Common Entrance Examination (CEE). There were three in the second year and fifteen in the third year, and the numbers kept on increasing. He also mentioned that he has devised an incentive scheme for the teachers.
In addition Blair said that his school performed well at events like the Annual Festival, the Linstead Baptist Circuit Bible Quiz and the Windalco Cricket Competition which they won on two occasions.
Blair, a native of Silver Spring in the parish of Westmoreland, has been as busy obtaining educational qualifications as he has been involved in community work.
He received his teacher training certificate in 1979 at West Indies College in Mandeville, and in 1988 he completed a certificate in Educational Management from the University of the West Indies (UWI).
He was back at this university for the period 1996-1998 when he gained the Bachelor of Education degree in Educational Administration. He is currently pursuing the Master of Education degree in Educational Administration at this institution.
His community involvement includes being a Justice of the Peace (JP), member, past president and zone chairman of the North St.Catherine Lions Club, a lay preacher at the Redwood Seventh Day Adventist Church, and a sponsor of the Bermaddy Basic School.
This much involved educator who taught at schools like Cedar Valley All Age in St.Catherine and Snowdon All Age in Manchester before embarking on his present assignment, believes in an action-oriented philosophy.
"I believe that whatever one perceives, one can achieve," he stated.
His philosophy complements the school's motto which is.' action and vision determine the future.'
And, judging from his achievements, it seems like a winning combination.