Defying all odds | Monica White

The principal of Dinthill Technical High School did not attend high school, because financial constraints prevented her from taking up the part scholarship offered during her childhood.

That, however, did not prevent her from studying hard and amassing enough subjects while she attended Juan de-Bolas All Age School in rural St Catherine North West.

Monica White now holds a Bachelor’s degree in Language and Communication from the University of the West Indies, and a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Management from the University of Technology. Furthermore, one of her biological children is an attorney-at-law, another is a training manager at Guardian Life, and the other is an accountant.

Reflecting on her accomplishments, White told The Beacon: “I want to be remembered as someone who is a role model – that despite my humble beginning, and despite the fact that I didn’t have financial support to move on to even high school, I was not daunted by that.”

On International Women’s Day 2019, Monica White (right) was awarded for more than 40 years of dedicated service through education. Former Custos of St Catherine Reverend Sophia Azan is presenting the award.

She further stated that, as a result of her experience, she has developed a soft spot especially for children at a disadvantage.

“I have an eye and a passion for every child who would have been at a disadvantage in any way – to say to them ‘do not be daunted’,” added White, who also attended Waltham All Age School in St Ann before she migrated to Juan de-Bolas to live with her mother’s family.

She is the wife of Lloyd White, and the biological mother of three children. “But I have mothered many other children – have them in my home,” added White.

With such love for children, it is not surprising that she opted for teaching.

White was 16 years old when she got her first job as a pre-trained teacher in 1974, filling a post at Garden Hill All Age School in St Catherine while the substantive occupant of the position was on leave for a term.

White later taught at James Hill Infant School in Clarendon; then at Lluidas Vale Primary School in St Catherine.

Not losing sight of the need to improve her qualification, the educator obtained a diploma at St Joseph’s Teachers College.

She commenced her tenure at Dinthill Technical High School in Linstead, St Catherine, in 1986. Since then, she has served in various positions at that institution, and has obtained two degrees.

Monica White and her husband Lloyd White

White is now in the top job at Dinthill Technical, which has just over 1,500 students.

“I am humbled to be in that post because I recognized that, over the years, I have made my contribution in different ways,” she told The Beacon, adding that the job is ‘difficult’ partly due to the relatively large size of the school.

White, however, has proven to be equal to the task. “There is a balancing job that must be done each day, and I look to the Lord for his leadership and his guidance,” she said.

White, the daughter of 89-year-old Elizabeth Gohagen from Juan de-Bolas and the late Theophelous Gohagen, has been displaying her love for teaching long before she became cognizant that she actually was doing so.

Her father saw the teacher in her when she was about three years old – teaching chairs and other inanimate objects at home. By age nine, she was teaching Sunday school.

“I never played the regular dolly house,” White said, adding: “My father would tell me I was going to become one of the greatest teachers around.”

White, who is a member of the Bread of Life Christian Ministries in Linstead, said the success of her students over the years has been a driving force behind her longevity in the teaching profession.

“I realized that teaching was my calling,” White told The Beacon. “I have a passion for teaching; I never get daunted; I just keep going.”

Meanwhile, the True United Sisters organization honoured White this month, on International Women’s Day, for her more than 40 years of dedicated service in the field of education.

By Horace Mills, Journalist


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