Texal Christie, who exchanged mechanical engineering for the classroom, has been reaping the rewards of the career switch.
The latest came on September 8 when he was among educators invited to Jamaica House, where they were awarded the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service To Education.
“I feel very elated,” the Kellits High School principal told The Beacon after collecting the award from Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
He added: “I know I put in the work, but, to know that persons are seeing your work especially when you work quietly, it is really a very good feeling.”
Christie was born at Morgan’s Pass district near Chapelton in Clarendon, but he grew up in that parish’s capital, May Pen.
He is an alumni of May Pen Primary, Osbourne Store All Age, Glenmuir High, the University of Technology (U-Tech), and the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Prior to teaching, Christie attained a certificate in mechanical engineering from the College of Arts, Science and Technology, which has been re-named U-Tech.
He worked at Jamaica Bags Limited as well as J Wray and Nephew in Kingston. At that time, his wife and children were living in Clarendon.
Explaining his sojourn into teaching, Christie disclosed that his older son had a neurodevelopmental disorder called ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
“He was very hyperactive and I couldn’t understand how to deal with it,” he said, adding that the schools his son was attending would complain frequently about him.
To be closer to his son in Clarendon, Christie quit his job at J Wray and Nephew in Kingston.
While in Clarendon, he, in 1996, found employment at his Alma Mater, Glenmuir High.
“What cause me to be in education is that my older son had ADHD,” he said.
At Glenmuir High, Christie taught Technical Drawing, Mathematics, as well as Geometrical and Mechanical Engineering Drawing.
“While in teaching, I recognized early that I had a love for it and so I started immediately to get trained [in education],” he told The Beacon.
He now holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Management from U-Tech, a Bachelor’s in Educational Administration from UWI, a certificate in Mathematics education from UWI, and different certificates from the National College for Educational Leadership.
In addition, Christie just completed his Doctorate in Educational Leadership at UWI.
He has grown to love teaching, he admitted, noting that he is now following in his father’s footsteps. His dad, Thelbert Christie, who was a teacher, served as acting principal at Prospect Primary School in Clarendon.
“On my mother’s side, I also have persons who are teachers and so it is something that is probably in my blood,” Christie said.
Having strengthened his credentials over time, he, in 2006, was appointed head of the Industrial Arts Department at Glenmuir High. He also became the school’s acting principal.
In April 2013, Christie began his sojourn at Kellits High in Clarendon after successfully applying for the post of principal.
He has remained there since.
“Coming to Kellits High, the challenges were many, but I recognized that I had to get to work as quickly as possible,” he recalled.
Under Christie’s leadership, Kellits High has been making major strides in areas such as academics, management and accountability, and infrastructural development.
Some examples of the improvements are the introduction of the sixth form programme, acquisition of a school bus, re-arrangement of the school buildings that facilitated the abolition of the shift system, introduction of an annual school improvement plan retreat for teachers, and redesigning of the school’s logo as part of an overall re-branding.
In the area of academics, Christie noted improvements in CSEC Mathematics and English A, which are administered by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). In Mathematics, for example, the passes moved from 23 per cent in 2013, to 77.8 per cent in 2014, to 66.7 per cent in 2015, and to 61 per cent in 2020.
Christie noted that the success achieved at Kellits High would not have been possible without the support of his entire team, including teachers, past principals, board chairmen, and education officers.
He also said: “I would advise teachers to just focus on doing their best. I know it is a profession in which the pay is not the best, but, as a person who has been in it for over 26 years, I can say that it has its rewards. The responsibility given to us to mould the minds of students for the future is an awesome responsibility, and so we have to take it serious.”
Asked how he would like to eventually be remembered, Christie told The Beacon: “I want to be remembered as being a catalyst in the transformation of the education system wherever I am… I always try to find ways how I can contribute to make the system better despite all the challenges. So I see myself as that transformational catalyst in the system.”
Christie, in the meantime, is the husband of pharmacist Dr Winsome Robinson-Christie, president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica. Their union has produced two adult sons – Temar and Mischa, who are both pharmacists.
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