By Kielon Hilaire. Ask UWI degree holder and principal Kezia Reece, “So what do you do for a living?“ and she’ll simply tell you, “I own my own school.” Kezia graduated from the University of the West Indies with a BA degree in English Language and Literature with Education.
Her mother wanted her to become a lawyer, but her grandmother always believed she would grow up to be a teacher. Turns out grandma was right. Kezia followed her calling, which did not officially become her passion until she had some rather interesting experiences as a teacher in the US. She eventually became not just a teacher in Trinidad but the successful founder of her own pre-secondary school. Now, her mother could not be any happier, especially as her daughter is still so young to boot.
Known as Miss Reece by her students, Kezia started Athena’s Pre-Primary School in 2006 but by 2008 the school was upgraded to the Athenian Pre-Secondary School due to her yearning to reach out to a much wider range of students. The school is located in St Augustine and facilitates students from First Year all the way up to Standard Five.
A great inspiration
Thriving on the watchwords, “self control, self awareness and self confidence” it should come as no surprise to any logical thinking person that each year Kezia’s students do well whether they are within the early classes or are on the Secondary Entrance Assessment level.
Yet, she hardly mentions it because, to her, students – or people for that matter – who apply certain principles to their life will always make it to the top at some point regardless of their past or present circumstances. Kezia then took the opportunity to brag about her seven-year stay at North Eastern College and of all the hard work she had to put in so that she would eventually become successful.
Speaking of circumstances, Kezia drew great inspiration from her mother who had her when she was really young and raised her as a single parent. Today her mother, Katyann Marshall, has a master’s degree and is pursuing her doctorate after long finding renowned success in her field. Kezia claims that her mother never let her pity herself and was a strong advocate that education is the key to solving all problems and overcoming any obstacle. Arguably because of this, Kezia now sees herself as a disciplined, no-nonsense kind of person as well as a perfectionist, which often causes her to be misunderstood as she views much in the world differently.
She explained that she feels personally responsible for each child under her watch and always feels there is more she can do, irrespective of how much has already been done. She believes that in today’s world children are constantly robbed of a good, solid education and exposure to quality culture because society is now filled with extremists.
She said, “Extremists are unable to strike a proper balance between child-centred education and discipline. And I believe we can respect the child and still impart discipline because at the end of the day children still need rules. Lack of rules results in a gradual loss of culture and identity.” What a shame, especially when you consider that Kezia has experienced a variety of cultures and strongly believes that T&T’s true culture is undisputedly number one.
Kezia also revealed her personal secret for allowing children to thrive in any environment. “Many people ask me, so how do you do it? And I tell them, I consistently revisit my childhood to mesh my past experiences with my future wishes. Everyday will not be perfect but if you really consider what it means to be a child then you would know just how much laughter and being silly means to children. So if getting children to become forward thinkers means also allowing them to embrace old traditions and culture then so be it. Hopscotch, jump rope or moral, anyone? After all, all work and no play does not make Jack or Jill a brighter student. I am inspired by my pupils, parents and staff because they are all open to embracing my wacky ideas because they know of my greater vision for everyone and society as a whole. For instance, at our school, we actually tell our kids thank you for the opportunity to be their educators.”
At the end of the day Kezia believes that the children’s needs are most important. She is steadily hard at work and hopes to soon make even more progressive changes to her school, such as installing a pool and auditorium and offering scholarship places to those children whose parents cannot afford but would like their child to enter the beloved school, usually by referrals.
“I am a strong believer in faith, love and God, so combine that with hard work and commitment and I know anything can be done. If I was forced to choose on behalf of the children I would gladly make this belief my one and only selfish principle.”
April 2015 – Issue 15 www.sweettntmagazine.com
You may also like:
- Producing world class hospitality graduates at TTHTI
- Helping others pursue their musical dreams
- My goal is to help others achieve theirs
- Football Factory – pro footballers in the making
principal, principal, principal, principal