By Llonella Gilbert
Bahamas Information Services
NASSAU, Bahamas — Minister of Education, Science and Technology the Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald said at the National Teacher of the Year Awards Press Conference on Tuesday, “I know personally of no other profession more important than that of the profession of teaching. It is a profession by which all other professions are either born and/or cultivated.”
The press conference was held at the Ministry to announce plans for the 11th National Teacher of the Year Awards, which will be celebrated under the theme “Celebrating Quality Teachers, Recognising Pathways of Excellence”.
He revealed, “some 46 stellar educators will vie for the position of National Teacher of the Year. These teachers have performed at extremely high standards and are fine examples of professionals in the field of education. I take this opportunity to publically congratulate all of them and wish them continued success in their careers.”
He also commended the current Teacher of the Year Nadia Smith for the role she has played in highlighting teaching as a career of choice during her tenure.
“As many of you are aware she is an art teacher at CC Sweeting Senior High School, and she has continued to perform at a very high level. She also brought recognition to the fact that no matter what subject you are teaching in our classrooms, they are all valuable and you can make a meaningful contribution and impact on students who you have under your remit.”
The Minister explained that the National Teacher of the Year awards was introduced in 1987 and 1988 by the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) when it was under the presidency of Donald Symonette.
“The purpose was to recognise and pay tribute to our hardworking committed, excellent and driven teachers in the public school system throughout The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
Ten years after its introduction by the BUT, the Ministry of Education became the lead sponsor.
“This welcome celebration of teaching excellence has evolved into a biannual event that is organised in school districts, which includes primary, secondary and all aged and special schools,” Minister Fitzgerald said.
Benjamin Whyte, Co-chair of the Organising Committee of the 2015-2017 National Teacher of the Year Awards said this year the Committee has planned its activities to highlight the significant role that teachers play in nation building, honour and reward teachers for their outstanding contributions to the field of education, encourage and motivate them to continue perform at a high standard, provide teachers with the opportunity to showcase their teaching talents, introduce outstanding teachers to the wider community and promote the teaching profession as a viable career.
Mr. Whyte said this year they have nominees from five of the Family Islands: Abaco, Berry Islands, Crooked Island, Eleuthera and Grand Bahama. There are several days of activities planned around the National Teacher of the Year Award Ceremony.
There will be a church service at Mount Tabor on Wednesday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m.; a Medal and Certificate Presentation will take place at Government House on Thursday, March 26; also on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. will be a BUT reception; and on Friday, a day of fun and activities sailing to Harbour Island. On Friday, there will be the gala event at 7:30 p.m. at Atlantis Theatre.
Also on the Organising Committee are: Nadia Smith, National Teacher of the Year 2012-2014, Eula Gaitor, Co-chair of the Organising Committee of the 2015-2017 National Teacher of the Year Awards, and Vann Gaitor, Partner, Higgs & Johnson, Counsel & Attorneys-at-Law.
Higgs & Johnson, Counsel & Attorneys-at-Law is a long-time sponsor of the National Teacher of the Year Awards.