ROADTOWN Tortola BVI, October 12th – Long standing educator and founder of the Elmore Stoutt High School’s (ESHS) Library Mrs. Jennie Wheatley was this week honoured at the opening ceremony for Reading Is Fun Week for her contribution to literacy and for her role in establishing the ESHS library.
His Excellency the Governor Mr. Boyd McCleary, CMG, CVO in his introduction of Mrs. Wheatley called her a culture bearer, baker, craft person and story teller. He also revealed that as part of his preparations to move to the Virgin Islands, he read some of Mrs. Wheatley’s books.“She has a real field for culture, a real passion for heritage and a real interest in what the BVI was and still can be,” the Governor said.
Minister for Education and Culture Honourable Andrew A. Fahie in his congratulatory remarks called Mrs. Wheatley ‘a stalwart of a lady’ who was very deserving of the recognition.
The Minister said that Mrs. Wheatley "paved the way at the Elmore Stoutt High School not only through the library but through the programmes available to students and how the first form class is organised.”
He called her a “cornerstone of the education system” and revealed that he learnt a lot from her, first as a student, then as a colleague. The Education Minister said that Mrs. Wheatley is a stern disciplinarian who believes in having fun within boundaries. He added that she is a very good story teller who teaches you a lot about life.
“Through her, the gateway opened for me to do great things because I kept reading and kept doing my work,” said Honourable Fahie.
In the honouree’s response, Mrs. Wheatley said, “Some years ago when I took my lunch time to dust off the books in a room there, I had no idea that a moment like this would come. I thank you heartily.”
She called the students a “fortunate people” as each student can now own their own book. In her days, a text book was shared by two or three students or within an entire community and text books could not be taken home so parents had no way by which to follow their children’s progress.
She said, “Books are precious to us today because we didn’t have them the way you have them.” She charged the students to continue to build the library and read more books as it helps to develop writing skills.
Mrs. Wheatley received her early education in the Virgin Islands before moving to Antigua to study at the Leeward Islands Teachers Training College. She then pursued a Bachelor’s Degree at Mount Allision University in Canada which was followed by studies at the University of Leeds in England. Upon her returning to the Territory she served as an educator for over 40 years.
Mrs. Wheatley has served as the Assistant Principal for academics at the ESHS, and as a marker on the English Panel of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). She co-authored the Comprehension for Caribbean Examination (1979) and served on the Board of Governors as an adjunct lecturer at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College.
She was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Her Majesty the Queen for her outstanding contributions to education and culture in the Virgin Islands.
Mrs. Wheatley is the author of several local books including ‘Pass it On: A Treasury of Virgin Islands Tales’, ‘Danielle’s Trunk’, ‘Boysie and the Genips’ and ‘Arianna likes to Read’.
Reading is Fun Week is being observed in the Territory under the theme, “Reading: the Power of Education”. It was instituted by the Department of Education in the early 1990s, to heighten the awareness of the importance of reading and encourage Territory-wide participation during the week of activities.
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