August 20th, 2019 -- At this year’s SPBS annual Banquet held in NY, two stalwart educators will be honored. Between both, they gave more than 80 years cumulatively in the field of education to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. One of them is Ms. Irma Ottley originally from Crab Hill, Sandy Point.
Ms. Ottley graduated from Primary School Sandy Point in the 1940s and won a scholarship tp attend the Girls’ High School in Basseterre. On successful completion of her studies there, she decided to accept an offer to teach.
She was assigned to the Sandy Point Primary School where her primary responsibility was Grade Five. It was a daunting proposition. High school had not prepared her for classroom management, but she quickly found that she had an affinity for the job and enjoyed it. “Teaching made me feel I was accomplishing something important,” she recalls.
Once she decided to follow her mother into the teaching profession, Ms. Ottley took steps to get the training she needed to give the best possible to her students. She took the local teaching certificate exam then went on to study at the Teacher’s Training College in Antigua with other aspiring teachers from St. Kitts.
On her return from Antigua, Ms. Ottley recalls waiting to hear about her assignment and receiving word one day that she was to report to work in Basseterre the next day. This involved packing, traveling, finding a place to board, and a few tears all in short order but she answered the call and began an assignment at the Irish Town Primary School. From there she continued to teach, serving in various roles from teacher to principal. She taught at Middle Island Primary School, and the Basseterre Senior School and was Head Teacher (Principal) of the Newton Ground Primary School.
After over twenty-five years of teaching, Ms. Ottley retired in the late 1970s, however, she did not rest for long. Teaching had become an important part of her life, and so, she returned to the profession and accepted a position as head teacher at The Academy on the Bay Road in Basseterre where she molded both teachers and students. She retired once more in the early 1980s, ending a teaching career that spanned over forty years and impacted the lives of many of St. Kitts’ most prominent adults today. Hundreds of students passed through her care and remember Ms. Ottley affectionately as a teacher who was strict and demanding but caring with a great sense of humor.
Come out and celebrate this legend at the SPBS Awards Gala on August 31st at the Maestros Ballroom in the Bronx, NY.
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