Principal of the Bethlehem All-Age School in St Elizabeth, James Folkes, is among distinguished educators who will be recognised by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, for their outstanding contribution to the development of Jamaica in the field of education.
The Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Education ceremony is to be held at Jamaica House on June 26.
Folkes is a past student of Grove Town Primary School in South Manchester, Beaumont Comprehensive High in Mandeville, and Bethlehem Moravian (Teachers) College in Malvern, St Elizabeth.
He did teaching practice at Epping Forest Primary and at Top Hill Primary in St Elizabeth.
Folkes began his teaching career at Bethlehem All-Age School in 1986, and has remained there throughout his professional life. He was a teacher for 16 years and vice principal for seven. He has been Principal for 10 years.
Folkes, who said his most rewarding experience as a teacher is to see his students achieve, is a past president of the South East St Elizabeth Principal’s Association.
He serves the community in a number of capacities, including Chairman of Malvern Health Committee, as well as a member of the Essex Valley Sports Committee.
Folkes also serves as a Justice of the Peace and has formed a number of youth clubs such as the Mount Pleasant Community Club.
“I find that I have an advantage as I engage the youth. In fact, most of the persons I interact with at the youth clubs are my past students,” he said, adding that one of the youth groups actually started a feeding programme for the elderly.
“The youth club would put packages together and then we would visit them (the elderly) and feed them. It helped a lot, and many of them appreciated what we did,” Folkes explained.
He further told the state-owned Jamaica Information Service that he is satisfied with his chosen career and that he has no regrets.
“I would still be a teacher, but I would have given myself more latitude for sports administration,” Folkes said.
He, in 1999, received the Lasco Salute to Teacher Award and the Jamaica Teachers’ Association Special Award in 2002.
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