Beacon of the day | Teacher Making Big Difference At Jose Marti, The School She Attended

Washing clothes and playing in the waters of the Rio Cobre is not the only childhood memory etched in Clair Henry-Wilson’s mind.

She vividly recalls that, during childhood, her dream was to become a teacher – an extraordinary one.

“Teaching has always been my love,” she said. “When I graduated from high school, I did not look anywhere else except teachers’ college because that’s what I wanted to do.”

Henry-Wilson also knew what was required to make her dream more than a figment of her imagination.

“Education was my way out to achieve,” she told The Beacon.

Her parents, Beverly and Augustus Henry, a housewife and taxi operator respectively, were sticklers for a good education.

Although they did not have much money, they ensured that their five sons and three daughters attended school regularly.

“I remember days when I had to wait on my father to run a trip as a taxi person and then we would meet him to get lunch money,” Henry-Wilson recalled. “As parents, they ensured that we were always in school. It was up to me to make sure I grasped as much as I could and better myself.”

Henry-Wilson attended Crescent All Age School, renamed Crescent Primary, in Spanish Town, St Catherine. She later enrolled at her first choice of secondary school, Jose Marti Technical, where she became a prefect.

According to her, she initially was fascinated by the school’s uniform and architecture. Within the walls, there was even more to see – and to learn.

“I am not tired of seeing it; not at all,” Henry-Wilson declared. “I have spoken to persons who say every time they pass the school, they felt like they were passing a hotel…”

After leaving Jose Marti in 1999, Henry-Wilson attended Shortwood Teachers’ College where she attained a diploma.

She subsequently returned to Jose Marti Technical; this time as an educator. “That is the only place I have worked since leaving [high] school,” she noted.

While teaching there, Henry-Wilson upgraded her credentials.

She now holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Ecology (specializing in nutrition and dietetics) from the University of the West Indies. At that same university, she acquired a Master’s in Educational Administration – with distinction. Henry-Wilson also completed a number of developmental courses, some in food and nutrition. “Thanks to the foundation set right at Jose Marti Technical,” she said.

Over the years, Henry-Wilson served her high school in various capacities. She has been head of the Human Ecology Department since 2016.

She was among teachers awarded recently for demonstrating excellence in using digital and non-digital resources during the 2020-2021 school year. That award was presented by the Ministry of Education, Lasco Foundation, and the Jamaica Teaching Council.

Henry-Wilson was lauded during a ceremony held on January 10 to observe her school’s 45th anniversary. The Jose Marti Past Students’ Association, which hosted the ceremony at the school, also used the occasion to donate more than $1.3 million in scholarships and grants to students and members of staff.

Henry-Wilson is proud of what the past students have been doing at their alma mater.

And she does not take lightly, her job helping to nurture the next generation of Jose Marti graduates.

“I have maintained a pass rate of 85% -100% in all the CXC/CSEC subjects I have taught for the past 15 years,” she told The Beacon.

She added: “Before I begin any class, I try to talk to my students. I use my life experiences to encourage them that ‘life may not always start out how you want it, but you are in control of how it turns out later on’.”

Henry-Wilson has been a Christian for 32 years.

In July 2008, she wedded Calvin Wilson. They have an 11-year-old son, Cee-Jay Dante; and a six-year-old daughter, Cailey Jordanna.

The educator credits her success to her maker, her family, her supportive friends – including members of her church, and the values inculcated in her while growing up partly at Dam Head district near Rio Cobre. The first 13 years of her life were spent in another St. Catherine community called Content, Siloah.

Henry-Wilson, in the meantime, said she eventually would like to be remembered as a humble and confidential person whose shoulders are always available for people who need them to lean on.

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