She has been like a mother to generations of students who pass through the primary school located in her rural community.

Theresa Michael, better known as Miss Terry, said her association especially with the students of Juan-de-Bolas Primary School in St Catherine spans some 40 years.

“I get along good with children – very good,” said the biological mom of five.

She told The Beacon that, about four decades ago when she was in her early 20s, she started vending at the entrance to the public school – selling cookies, donkey corn, kisko and a variety of other snacks and juices.

Miss Terry, in the 1990s, became employed to the educational institution as a sanitation worker – a post she occupies to date.

“I enjoy what I do; I do it with a lot of love,” she asserted, adding that it is always a pleasure to meet the many students, principals and teachers with whom she came in contact through the school, which she has to pass to reach her home.

Many of the children, Miss Terry said, have grown out of her sight. “Sometimes I am in the streets and hear them calling ‘Miss Terry’, I have to ask, ‘who are you again?’ They are always saying Miss Terry.”

Miss Terry, who was born and raised in Juan-de-Bolas district, is a past student of Juan-de-Bolas All Age School, now Juan-de-Bolas Primary.

She started classes there in Grade 7, having previously attended Kentish All Age School, also in St Catherine.

“After I graduated from Juan-de-Bolas All Age, I went away [from the community], came back, and then started to sell at the school gate,” Miss Terry recalled.

She stayed put in her native community because of her love for it.

Many young people, on the other hand, have relocated especially to find jobs.

“I love my community,” Miss Terry declared.

“I was born in Juan-de-Bolas; I have a family in Juan de-Bolas; I enjoy Juan-de-Bolas. It’s not a lot of people living here, but we live together.”

Miss Terry, who hopes some of the young people will eventually return to develop the area, lives with her husband Glenford Michael.

The couple has been married for some 38 years, but has been together for 46.

“She is highly regarded,” Mr Michael said of his wife. “She is highly regarded by everybody.”

The couple has five children – four daughters who are still alive and a son who died in childhood.

One of their daughters, Velonie Michael, said her mother is tender-hearted and kind – not only to her biological children.

She told The Beacon:

Miss Terry is a mother, a friend, a teacher, a helper, and a strong support system for those who come in contact with her.

She would ensure the school environs is clean and conducive for learning to take place, as well as for the teachers to be comfortable in the execution of their duties.

My mother is stern yet subtle, loving, and kind-hearted. She is one who appeases people with her humble yet outgoing personality, which makes it hard not to want to be around her.

She is a true stalwart who has impacted many lives positively through her continued dedicated service.

Velonie Michael

Miss Terry, in the meantime, told The Beacon that she thinks her service to Juan-de-Bolas Primary School and to its students has been appreciated.

She further stated that, at the end of the day, she would like to be remembered for her love.

“I want people to remember me as a loving and caring person,” Miss Terry further said.

By Horace Mills, Journalist

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