Mon | Dec 5, 2022

St Thomas teacher transforming lives one child at a time

Published:Friday | August 5, 2022 | 12:08 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Chevanese Johnson-Dixon with some of her students.
Chevanese Johnson-Dixon with some of her students.
Summer school students get tips on swimming.
Summer school students get tips on swimming.
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Chevanese Johnson-Dixon, a St Thomas-based teacher, opted to use her summer holidays to address gaps in learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, while exposing students to new activities.

Since July, she has been tutoring 10 students, ages eight to 15 years old at Rudolf Elder Park in Morant Bay.

Johnson-Dixon, who has been a teacher since 2019, said it was evident that some students are in need of additional support.

“Many of the nation’s children are not reading at the level they ought to. I believe that a change of environment enhances growth through socialisation,” she told The Gleaner.

The students have attended swimming classes at the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) and visited heritage sites such as Devon House.

She has also incorporated sign language and technology in lessons to enhance the learning process.

“The parents welcomed the initiative with open arms because they saw my vision. Parents have messaged me so many times expressing their gratitude,” she said.

Parents pay a small weekly stipend to offset the costs associated with hosting the summer school, while the remainder of the resources are financed from her own pocket and sponsorship sought from close friends, entrepreneurs and family members.

This year’s summer camp represents a big step in Johnson-Dixon’s dream to transform the lives of Jamaicans one child at a time.

BUILT FOR THIS

Even before she became a trained teacher, she taught summer class in Mabee Lane in the community of White Horses.

“From then, I knew I was built for this profession. Parents showed their gratitude even though I was not trained. I love to see students progress. I want every child to reap success just like my child,” she said of her son who aced the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate English language exam in first form last year.

Johnson-Dixon told The Gleaner that her son is her main motivator.

“He motivates me to carry on the teaching baton even when it gets frustrating at times. I am a no-nonsense teacher but my classroom is fun and loving. My students are not afraid to be themselves but when it’s time for work, I don’t play,” she told The Gleaner.

Of the 10 students, there are two whom she has been giving more individual attention to as they are not reading at the level they ought to, which can hamper their academic growth.

Parents have heaped praises on the teacher for extending such an opportunity to their children.

“Thank you for never giving up on her. You are indeed a great teacher,” one parent wrote.

Another parent noted the improved performance of her daughter in language arts.

“She got 80 per cent, which I think is good based on where she’s coming from,” the mother said.

Johnson-Dixon hopes to make the summer camp annual and expand her reach to other communities.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com