Karema Mundell-Thomas, who originally is from the Linstead area of St Catherine, is The 2019 Mathematics Teacher of the Year.
But it almost didn’t happen.
“When I was in primary school, I wanted to become a teacher, but when I went to high school and saw the challenges that come with teaching, I kinda didn’t want to be in it again, but now that I am in it, it is really the best profession,” Mundell-Thomas declared.
The past-student of Linstead Primary School and Charlemont High said she is always passionate about Mathematics.
“Mathematics has always been a passion of mine from high school – Charlemont High in St Catherine, but I really did not want to be in the classroom,” she said.
“I went into counselling. However, when I was awarded my degree, I ended up applying for a job teaching Mathematics. Somehow I was successful and, as they would say, the rest is history. I ended up teaching Maths, and I’m telling you, I’m passionate about it, and it’s something that I really love, and now I cannot see myself coming out of it.”
Mundell-Thomas, in an interview with the state-owned Jamaica Information Service, said she travels 27 miles on three taxis daily from her home in St Catherine to the hills of St Mary, where she teaches at Carron Hall High School.
She has been covering the distance for the last 15 years, and, although it is a struggle, it is one that Mundell-Thomas has learnt to embrace and to use as a form of motivation.
Now that she has been awarded the 2019 Mathematics Teacher of the Year, she said the years of commuting have been worth it.
“I am elated. Very rarely are mathematicians recognised, so I am really grateful for this competition and the opportunity to be awarded the winner,” Mundell-Thomas reasoned.
She, in the meantime, stated that, during her reign, she will encourage teachers to use non-traditional strategies and best practices when teaching underperforming students.
“Manipulatives are a very critical part of all my lessons. Interestingly, one of the classes that I was observed [in], as part of the competition, was an all-boy class. These are boys where some of them are not able to read well… This (reading) is an area in which they are not so good, so I’ve had to find novel ways to use manipulatives in the lessons, because boys like to work hands-on,” Mundell-Thomas explained.
She also stated that she will encourage Mathematics teachers to do more research.
“I believe Mathematics teachers should be researchers. What I try to do is research and find novel ideas and novel ways of presenting a certain concept,” Mundell-Thomas said.
She disclosed that her next major move is to pursue a Master’s degree in Mathematics.
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