Beacon of the day | Ewarton Teacher Defies Odds To Be Crowned Miss Linstead Ackee & Jerk FestOctober 26, 2022
A high school teacher, who is inspired by Dancehall artiste Spice, is elated about winning the title of Miss Linstead Ackee and Jerk Festival 2022 last Monday at Dinthill Technical High School in Linstead, St. Catherine.
J’nell Morris told The Beacon that the competition was tailored to showcase hidden talents among herself and the nine other contestants, to embrace the Jamaican culture, and to highlight what each contestant had to offer the Linstead community.
“I chose to enter the competition because I am passionate about my holistic development and, as such, this is one avenue that will help to build my character,” Morris said.
She won the grand prize, a number of other prizes, as well as the title which she considers to be ‘a big thing’.
Reliving the moment when she was announced the winner during the Kings Landing Linstead Ackee Festival, she divulged: “It was mixed feelings; it was overwhelming. At one point, the other contestants started to cry. Persons said they knew I would come out on top. I am happy, but still sad on the other side… The girls are my friends even though we are all contestants; I built a friendship with them.”
One of the memorable moments for Morris is when, as part of the competition, she was tasked with showing which Jamaican inspires her. She chose entertainer Spice, whose real name is Grace Hamilton.
Morris, who was born and raised at Ewarton in St. Catherine, resided initially with her mother Amanda Smith-Davis. When she was about 13 years old, she started living with her grandmother Lolita Brown.
Morris changed schools a number of times for varying reasons. She attended McGrath High, Ewarton High, and Ocho Rios High.
She later pursued her Bachelor’s degree in Education, Business and Computer Study at The University of Technology (U-Tech).
Since September of this year, Morris has been teaching Business Basics and Electronic Document Preparation Management (EDPM) at her alma mater, Ewarton High School.
Before venturing into the teaching profession, she worked at Jamaica National Bank (JN) as a Mortgage Clerk and a JNB Ambassador.
Earlier, Morris was looking to pursue a career in law, but instead changed trajectories and stepped into her true calling. She recounted that, while growing up, she often organized her toys as her students and also taught them.
“I love kids. No matter where I go, I gravitate towards them. I used to gather my teddy bears and teach them. From then, it seems like teaching is just part of me,” she told The Beacon, adding that she was a Sunday school teacher for some eight years.
Morris is an active member of the Ewarton Community Development Committee (Ewarton CDC), which she represented at the Kings Landing Linstead Ackee Fest pageant.
The first-time pageant winner is no stranger to pageantry, having previously entered numerous competitions such as Miss Ewarton High School, Miss Majestic Beauty Pageant, Miss Garvey Hall at the University of Technology (U-Tec), as well as Miss U-Tech.
This may not be the end of Morris’ journey in pageant-related events as she is considering representing St Catherine in the next staging of the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen competition, hosted annually by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).
Deterring her past from writing her future, Morris, who recalled being molested twice during childhood, had to fight to rewrite her story. And she has risen from the mighty fall.
“Don’t give up!” she now tells people whose world perhaps is currently crumbling.
Morris further advised: “The road is going to be dark and sometimes it is going to be lonely because family will give up on you, and your friends will let you down… But, at the end of the day, you have to know what you want, and what you’re going for… Don’t let your past determine your future. I’ve been through a lot. Always remember that your scars can bury you, and they can build you, so you have to choose which side you want to be on.”
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