St Catherine teacher inspiring dreams, empowering communities
ICWI Teacher’s Day prize-winner transforms lives through education
IN A society where teachers are often unsung heroes, Sanika Roberts, a passionate educator at St Catherine Primary School, has been recognised for her exceptional dedication and impact on the lives of her students. Through her unwavering commitment to education and community development, Roberts is a beacon of inspiration, fostering dreams and empowering the youths of her community.
“I started teaching in 2010,” Roberts recalled, reflecting on the beginning of her journey. Initially drawn by a desire to fill a need within her community, she volunteered as a teacher, which eventually led her to establish the Pennington Youth Development Educational Programme, a non-profit organisation dedicated to uplifting students between ages three to 18 years old in Pennington and its surrounding communities in St Catherine.
With a deep belief in the power of positive student-teacher relationships, Roberts focused on building trust and respect among her students and their parents.
“I developed a positive student-teacher relationship in the classroom with my students and their parents. This relationship was fostered by getting to know the students better, providing choice, and encouraging them to become stronger learners every day,” said Roberts, adding that this has built the cornerstones of her teaching philosophy.
Amid the numerous milestones and successes in her career, Roberts fondly recounted a profoundly impactful moment. At a recent student concert, a young man approached her with a beaming smile. Recognising the surprise on her face, he reminded her of their shared history. “I attended your free summer programme,” he said, “and it has helped me to be who I am today. I thank God for you.” It was in that moment that Roberts realised the true extent of her influence as an educator, her ability to shape lives and inspire dreams.
According to Kerry-Ann Francis Campbell, the mother of Sarah-Kay Campbell, who nominated Roberts for the Insurance Company of the West Indies (ICWI) Dream Big Teachers’ Day initiative in May 2023, the teacher’s dedication to establishing connections with students and parents has positively impacted her as a parent.
Francis Campbell said, “We have a wonderful relationship where we can discuss anything regarding my child, and she regularly keeps me informed about her progress. She consistently encourages me to be a better parent and advises me not to set limits on Sarah. As a mother, she inspires me to always encourage Sarah to reach for the highest goals.”
Even though Roberts taught Sarah-Kay during her time at Spanish Town Infant School, the five-year-old still vividly remembers the teacher’s kindness. Sarah-Kay shared, “Miss Roberts is caring and loving; she makes me happy. I nominated her because I love her, and she assists me with my school work.”
Now, as one of the winners of the ICWI ‘Dream Big’ Teachers’ Day campaign, Roberts has received her dream gift, further validating the exceptional impact on her students and the community. Grateful for the recognition, she plans to utilise her winnings to purchase a laptop and printer, enabling her to enhance her teaching methods and better serve her students’ needs.
Roberts also offers words of encouragement to her fellow teachers, urging them to put their all into their work and embrace their abilities. “Whatever you do, put your all into it and believe in what you can do, and you will overcome any obstacles in life,” she said.
The primary school teacher asserted that although teaching might be challenging, success is attainable through hard work and perseverance. Her own journey exemplifies the transformative power of passion and determination. “Don’t doubt your ability to succeed. You will be the person you want to be and achieve your dreams, as long as you work hard for them. Being successful is easy if you choose to do it.”
She emphasised the importance of overcoming obstacles and the value of learning from mistakes. “Making mistakes is a great way to learn since you will remember every single one of them and won’t repeat them. Always learn from them, and they will help you improve overtime.”
Expressing her gratitude for being selected a winner, Roberts felt equally delighted that her students also received a $10,000 book voucher as a token of appreciation. She commended the ICWI for their ‘Dream Big’ campaign, recognising the positive impact it has on teachers and students alike.
Roberts said it was a tremendous honour to be among this year’s winners and looks forward to continuing her mission of inspiring young minds to dream big.
Sanika Roberts, with her indomitable spirit and unwavering dedication, stands as an exemplar of the profound influence teachers can have on the lives of their students. Through her commitment to education and community development, she has not only transformed individual lives, but also uplifted an entire community. As her journey continues, Sanika Roberts will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those she touches, forever inspiring dreams and empowering the next generation.