VIDEO: Earline Carnegie Teaching At One Basic School For 52 YearsOctober 3, 2022
Earline Carnegie has been an early childhood teacher and principal at the same institution in the Linstead area of St Catherine for all her professional life spanning 52 years.
That’s something to celebrate – and her relatives and friends did just that on what turned out to be a wet Sunday afternoon, 25 September 2022.
At that time, the outer bands of Hurricane Ian were dumping showers on Linstead and other sections of the island.
The celebration started with a motorcade led by the Linstead-based George Washington Marching Band. It ended at Louisa Haywood Basic School, where Miss Carnegie helped to mould generations.
Her students are so many, she has lost count.
“It’s a vast number; you can look at the amount of years [that I have been teaching and you will get an indication]. They have spread far and wide,” Miss Carnegie said, sitting in the front passenger seat of a motorcar that was part of the motorcade.
When the people reached Louisa Haywood Basic School, Miss Carnegie, a picture of elegance, was escorted to a tent, which was beautifully decorated with red carpet, a portrait of her, and a throne chair. To top it off, there was a special cake and bottles of champagne.
Reflecting on her years of service, Miss Carnegie told The Beacon: “It has been a good journey. I enjoy dealing with children, and that has helped me to go on over the years – with the help of God.”
Miss Carnegie started teaching when she was 17 years old in the community where she grew up – Cross Roads district in Bynloss, Linstead.
She explained that a minister of religion and his wife, Iona and Delroy Francis, who headed the Bethlehem Church of God in the community, had asked her to take over from a male who was teaching some 10 students at the church.
“I did not hesitate because what I have learnt over the years is that, if you are called to do a task, never refuse it. And I did not refuse it,” she told the gathering.
Miss Carnegie stated that “problems arose”, causing her to move on after a short stint at the church.
“I was determined not to abandon the children although it was a small number of them,” she said, adding that she eventually erected a tent at the front of her home and started teaching there.
“The rain came and I had to take the children inside the house,” Miss Carnegie explained.
A teacher trainer at the time, Myrtle Johnson, came by and they found a nearby empty school in the neighbourhood. “It was just an unfinished building with dirt floor. I left the tent at my house and we came to the dirt floor,” she said.
The property on which the unfinished building was located is owned by Jericho Baptist Church, which, at the time, was headed by Reverend Glen Walters.
Miss Carnegie stated that Reverend Walters gave the go-ahead for her team to carry out work on the structure.
With sponsorship from the then neighbouring bauxite company, Alcan, the school was built and furnished.
It eventually was named in honour of the mother of the senior Alcan employee who had facilitated the sponsorship.
“Louisa Haywood Basic School was established on the 7th of September 1970. It was started by yours truly,” Miss Carnegie disclosed.
Her only regret, she said, is that the school’s canteen, on one occasion, was burglarized.
The students that Miss Carnegie helps to groom are from three to six years old. In her mind, they are the ones that require the greatest level of care and guidance.
“Over the years, teachers have worked very hard with these children. They make sure that they are taken care of – not only to just come inside and read and write,” she noted.
“When the children get messed up, you have to stop [doing other things and attend to them]. When they are sick, the medication will come and you have to be a nurse and a doctor for them. Because the parents were behind you, everything ran smoothly,” Miss Carnegie added.
She expressed gratitude for the support she has received over the years from her family, friends, other educators, the school’s cooks, community members, and past students.
Now on the cusp of retirement, Miss Carnegie is hopeful that another great educator will emerge and breathe new life into the school, which has been closed for different reasons since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Jamaica.
The celebration of Miss Carnegie, in the meantime, provided past students and others with an opportunity to directly laud her.
“We are very very glad that we can come together to honour someone who would have served the community – and we can do so not posthumously… We honour her because 52 years at one place is not easy,” said Steve McDonald, one of the students that Miss Carnegie taught when she was still a teen.
Another past student, Shantel Johnson, told the gathering: “Early childhood educators are some of the most important figures in a child’s life, and have the power to make a real difference in the future of each child that they meet. And Miss Carnegie, I believe, have done such.”
In the meantime, Carvelo Cooper, who has two children who were taught by Miss Carnegie, said she has known the educator for 36 years.
She performed a song in her honour and offered her two nights at a north coast resort.
“I am so happy for all that you have taught them; I know you are happy with them too because they have achieved so much,” the mother said during the ceremony.
A sneak peak into Miss Carnegie’s personal life shows that she was born in Kingston. But she grew up at Cross Roads district in the Linstead area with her grandmother Matilda Amos.
Miss Carnegie attended Jericho Primary School, as well as evening classes at Ewarton High School and Dinthill Technical High.
She is an alumna of the Portland-based Passley Gardens Teachers College, which has been re-named the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE).
Miss Carnegie has three of her own – Andrea Allen, Arlene Green, as well as Marilyn Green-Campbell who spearheaded the celebration.
“To serve in a community for 52 years; it’s a task. This is my mom’s first and last job,” Green-Campbell noted. “I am happy that everyone took the time out to be here with us.”
All three sisters attended the event marking what truly is an amazing milestone for their mom.
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