Beacon of the day | Teacher’s daughter from rural St. James declared Maths Teacher of the Year

Kelly Kellier-Anderson initially wanted to become a flight attendant, but ended up following in her mother’s footsteps in becoming an educator.

“My mother Zelia Miller pushed me to become a teacher,” she told The Beacon.

“I told her I wanted to become a flight attendant. She said ‘no’; she can’t see through that… She supported us, and I give most of the credit to my mother.”

Kellier-Anderson, head of the Mathematics Department at Irwin High School in St. James, scored her latest feat on December 2 when the Ministry of Education declared her Mathematics Teacher of the Year 2020.

She was stunned, but happy.

“I am humbled, honoured and at the very same time extremely excited to be given the title of 2020 Mathematics Teacher of the Year,” Kellier-Anderson said.

“I must say thank you to the people who have inspired and helped me through this journey… As I accept this award, I must say that I will continue to make Mathematics practical and accessible to our students for the rest of my instructional career.”

Kellier-Anderson noted that the competition has changed the way she teaches Mathematics at Irwin High, adding that it pushes quality in teaching Mathematics on the island.

“The Maths competition’s ad has always caught my attention, but I just never thought of applying, [because] it seemed far-fetched,” she added.

Kellier-Anderson further stated that winning the award would not have been possible without the support of her family members and colleagues. She made special mention of her husband Christopher as well as her Mathematics Coach from the education ministry, David McFarlane, who encouraged her to apply for the competition.

She received $100,000 from title sponsor Jamaica National Bank, a winning trophy, and a tablet device.

Kellier-Anderson, mother of a young daughter, is originally from the rural community of Garlands in St. James.

She attended Garlands Primary and Junior High School as well as Westwood High.

She told The Beacon that she didn’t hate Math while in primary school, but she actually fell in love with it while at Westwood High.

“When I got to Grade Nine, I met Mr. Rohan Sewell who was my Math teacher from Grade Nine. He has really inspired me,” Kellier-Anderson noted.

She, after high school, attended Bethlehem Moravian College where she studied Primary Education and Mathematics. She subsequently enrolled at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College.

Kellier-Anderson stated that, besides winning the Mathematics Teacher of the Year award, her biggest achievement was acquiring her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mathematics and Education from the University of Technology.

She has been teaching at Irwin High School for 12 years. Prior to that, she was employed for three years as a teacher at a private school in the Bahamas.

Kellier-Anderson recalled that, while in the Bahamas, she was awarded for being an outstanding Mathematics teacher because the students did ‘extremely well’ in their Grade Three external Mathematics exam.

She explained that one of the reasons for her success is that she tries to make Mathematics relatable by incorporating real-life experiences in the teaching process.

“We would have grown up on Math being taught a particular way and we would see that, in society, there is a phobia when it come on to Math. Students fear Math,” she reasoned.

“If we change the way we educate our children when it comes on to Math and help them start doing conceptual learning, that will help them to do better at Math and stop fearing it.”


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