Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Monday | June 1, 2009
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Master teacher Caroline Miles
Latoya Grindley, Gleaner Writer

In 2007, Caroline Miles was named master teacher by the Ministry of Education for her outstanding performance in education. - Ian Allen/Staff Photographer

"If a child does not learn the way you teach, teach the way he learns." This is one of the many philosophies Caroline Miles of Seaforth High School in St Thomas has used in her method of teaching throughout her 14-year career.

Miles' journey in the educational system started after she left behind a job at a library to take up a position as a pre-trained teacher. "I was always told that I had what it took to be a teacher. I then heard about an opening at Seaforth High for a pre-trained teacher and I applied and got the job."

Since then, she has been tried and tested and has learnt to deal with the stressful aspects of teaching. According to Miles, no amount of training and experience in a teacher will prevent him/her from facing challenges with students.

She notes that discipline is one of the most common challenges a teacher faces. But, for her, it is the approach of the teacher which is crucial. "You really, at times, have to find out where the child is coming from, why is the child behaving that way," she said.

The mother of one son says she can relate with the circumstances of some of these students. She explains that poverty is an issue which can influence delinquent behaviour. "I have first-hand experience with this. Going to school hungry, sometimes you don't even hear a word the teacher is saying. There are those students who just can't read and are seeking attention but in a negative way. Sometimes, it is just the guidance and attention they want to steer them in the right way."

Passionate about art, which she teaches grades seven and eight, she claims that this is quite therapeutic. "I guide them in a number of ways, but I find that art helps. It allows them to do things with their hands, which helps them to forget certain problems in their lives."

Not just a job

For Miles, teaching is not just a job to earn a salary; it's an investment in her students and their well-being. This is reflected in the numerous awards she has received over the past years. Recently, she was awarded the Lasco/Ministry of Education Teacher of the Year Award for 2009-2010, and was also nominated for the Governor General's Achievement Awards. Through her influence, students have been recipients of awards in local competitions. And, for more than 10 years, she has received 100 per cent passes in art in the Secondary School certificate exams.

When she is not at school, the 39-year-old enjoys the company of her 16-year-old son. She is also the founder of the New Vision Art Club, a community club where she is a volunteer.


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