Sadie Comrie, a trailblazer whose more than 50 years’ outstanding service to the education sector spans innovative work in the classroom, as an administrator, and community leader has been conferred with the local teaching profession’s highest accolade, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) Roll of Honour Award.
The prestigious award was presented recently at an elegant ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. Guests at the function included a cross-section of educators, led by Steadman Fuller, Custos of Kingston, who represented the Governor-General and Patron of the Award since 2009, Sir Patrick Allen.
The Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator, Ruel Reid and the Deputy Opposition Spokesman on Education and Training, Michael Stewart, also attended the stellar event at which Mrs. Comrie became the 49th recipient of the Award which was introduced in 1977 to recognize excellence among educators. The Rev. Phyllis Smith-Seymour, another educator and President of the Moravian Church in Jamaica and The Cayman Islands, was the Guest Speaker.
The Citation, which was presented by JTA President, Dr. Garth Anderson, described Mrs. Comrie as “a meticulous, dynamic planner who knows how to galvanize people and accomplish any task that is set for her.”
Among her many classroom innovations, was the effective use of audio recordings and specially-assigned movies as the basis for discussions in her Language and Communication classes at Lacovia High School, in St. Elizabeth, long before the technological era. The Guidance and Counselling Programme, which she developed at Lewisville High School, and which was extended to five All Age Schools in neighbouring communities, as well as to parents, was another pioneering initiative.
Sadie Comrie served from 2004-2007 as Principal of the May Pen Primary School, which was then the largest institution of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. During her tenure, literacy levels among under-performing Grade 3 students were improved, music was introduced to the upper school curriculum, teachers were trained in Information Technology, and the school plant was upgraded.
A former President of the JTA, which she joined on her second day as a classroom teacher in the 1960’s, Mrs. Comrie has served at the District and Parish levels, as well as on the Central Executive. She was also Liaison Officer between the Ministry of Education and the Association; and she continues to represent the organization through its subsidiary, the Jamaica Publishing House.
In her address, Guest Speaker, Rev. Phyllis Smith-Seymour, commended the JTA for its continued recognition of members who have served with distinction.
“This act is even more rewarding when persons are able to acknowledge the gesture while they are alive and in their right mind…To be chosen by your peers is also another significant yardstick,” she noted.
Rev. Smith-Seymour said Mrs. Comrie, who had devoted her life to nation-building, reflected the sentiments expressed by American Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, who stated that: “An individual has not started living until he/she can rise above the narrow confines of his/her individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
POSITIVE CHANGE AGENTS
Noting the important role of education in influencing change globally, she urged educators at every level to see themselves as positive change agents in the Jamaican society; to demonstrate passion for their work and to continue being role models and nation builders.
Senator Ruel Reid, Minister of Education, Youth and Information stated that the Roll of Honour Award did not only recognize outstanding contributions to education, but also identified the recipient as being of the highest integrity and professionalism.
“When the JTA affirms these values, you send a positive signal to trainee teachers, students in the classrooms and the wider public that integrity and professionalism do matter,” Senator Reid asserted.
The message read on behalf of the Governor-General and Patron, Sir Patrick Allen, noted that the Association played a significant role in advancing the national agenda; and he encouraged members to find a meaningful path for service.
Asserting that investment in teachers and the education system was critical to the attainment of the nation’s goal of sustainable development by 2030, JTA President, Dr. Garth Anderson, pledged that the Association would continue to work hard to promote the profession and acquire the resources that would enable teachers to carry out their responsibilities.
In her reply, Mrs. Comrie traced her professional journey and thanked her colleagues for their exemplary support; and promised to continue to be a vessel of cooperation and service.
Musical tributes were offered at the function by teachers of the Lewisville High School and the Brotherhood of Sharon Baptist Church, St. Elizabeth where Mrs. Comrie is an active member.