Positive Values from Truro, Westmoreland
When in Truro, a small community just a few metres outside the sugar belt of Frome, Westmoreland, one can simply ask for Jacqueline or Lindley Samuels, and almost anyone will tell you where to find this humble, elderly couple.
Retired educators, Mr Samuels, a former Vice Principal at the Grange Hill High School; and, Mrs Samuels, a former principal of the Mount Grace Primary and Junior High School; have taken the business of education beyond the perimeters of their schools and into the community of Truro and its surroundings, to help residents, especially young people, re-start their lives, especially when they get off on the wrong footing.
“I started teaching because I love children and I love people,” Mrs Samuels remarked as she relaxed in her living room to reflect on their lives.
“Children motivate me,” she related.
Her years of service began from as early as 17 years old, breaking temporarily to attend the Shortwood Teachers’ College in St Andrew for three years before returning to the classroom. At the same time, she decided to pursue her career and start a family, while, shaping the lives of countless children at Mount Grace, where she taught for more than four decades.
“I taught children from grades one to nine. Therefore, I was a balanced teacher, and that experience led me to become a senior teacher, vice principal and eventually principal,” Mrs Samuels reflected.
“Having been an educator, my greatest moments are when I meet people who I taught and they say, ‘I made them’,” she beamed. “Some of them are earning a lot of money today…However, when they see me they have manners and respect,” Mrs Samuels, who is also a well-known singer in the parish, said as firmly she could in her soprano-tinged speech.
“They called me the ‘wicked man’,” Mr Samuels chimed in humourously, as he also pointed out his intolerance for indiscipline in his classroom during his 30 years at Grange Hill.
A skilled woodworker, his workshop also included building the character of young men, as it was about making the finest items of wooden furniture.
“I taught Industrial Arts and it was very rewarding,” the Miconian and graduate of the College of Arts Science and Technology, now the University of Technology, (UTECH), reflected. “When you can hold a guy’s hand and get him to draw a straight line and weeks later he does it himself, it’s a feeling of achievement. And, that’s why I wouldn’t teach anything else besides Industrial Arts.”
“Anyone who you see around here making furniture, I taught them,” he declared with pride and confidence resonating from his deep baritone.
A Justice of the Peace, those lessons were not only taught at school, but on the walls of Mr Samuels’ personal workshop in Truro, where, over the years, he would craft every piece of furniture that now occupies their home of nearly 50 years before he grew too ill to work.
“He taught his students everything,” Mrs Samuels added. “He used his money to purchase board and other things and trained the boys to build houses and some were able to build their own board house before they left high school.”
The value of homeownership, is a lesson Mrs Samuels holds dearly, especially in a parish, where large parcels of land remain privately owned by a few.
The Samuels’ who purchased their home in 1969 from the Government with the help of the then Westmoreland Building Society, which would in 1970 become the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS). They made their purchase only six years after meeting each other for the first time on Independence Day, 1962.
“My cousin and I were riding our bicycles in Savanna-la-Mar, in the evening, when I saw two sisters and I asked him: who is the shorter one?” Mr Samuels fondly recounted his moment of “love at first sight,” which sparked their relationship 54 years ago.
After completing college, they were married; and through their pooled savings at Westmoreland Building Society, which for Mrs Samuels started at age 17, they purchased their home. In that context they would raise a new generation of educators: their daughters Michelle and Jenese, who they also schooled from their savings at the building society.
Now adults, Michelle and Jenese, continue to embrace the values taught by their parents, which influenced them to enrich their lives and that of their students and own children.
Michelle, a Science educator, lives in the United States of America, along with her husband medical doctor, Dwight Clarke. And Jenese teaches at the Mount Grace Primary and Junior High School in Westmoreland, which she once attended; and where her mother taught for more than 40 years.
A teacher for nine years, Jenese currently teaches students in the Alternative Secondary Transition Programme (ASTEP), a government programme designed for students who were not placed in a secondary school under the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). She has been able to impress on her students, the value of being prepared for lessons, deportment and old-fashion manners.
“I have 31 children who often quarrel with each other; and I have to insist on simple things, such as asking for permission before doing something, or just on them answering ‘Yes Miss’ and ‘No Miss’ as well as, being kind to one another,” she says.
Similarly, Michelle, who lives in Arizona, is raising her two sons, Daniel ten and David 16, to embody the same qualities of discipline and respect instilled in her, as a child.
“They simply stand out from other children, even there in Arizona,” Jenese reflects about her nephews’ deportment. “And that’s a result of the manner in which we were raised by our parents.”