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“I am glad for the opportunity to interact with young persons, and to help to mould them…”By Dennis NicholsJoy O’Jon’s gentlewomanly speech and demeanour recall an era long past, and longed-for by many. Her almost fully-grey ‘afro’ seems a throwback toProudly displaying the Golden Arrowhead at a Women’s Aglow Biennial Conventionthe nineteen-sixties and seventies, but she is very much a part of contemporary Guyanese life,Cheap MLB Jerseys, at least where education and Christian discipline are concerned. She is the principal, and (along with fellow-educator Florine Dalgety) co-founder of Dominion Schools, on Regent Road, Bourda. She is also this week’s special person.Surprisingly, Ms. O’Jon was not born in Guyana, but in south central Africa in 1935, in the then British Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. Her father, George, was an African with Guyanese connections, and her mother Lily, a native Guyanese. Having left Africa at the age of four, she understandingly has little recollection of life there.She nevertheless remembers that her father was a mechanic who worked on a major project to channel water from the mighty Zambezi River to Northern Rhodesia, and recalls the jubilation with which this accomplishment was greeted.Ms. O’Jon declared that having come here, she never had the urge to go back to her homeland, that is, until she saw a video of South Africa a few years ago, and waxed nostalgic.“Oh, the beauty was so patent; in that moment I prayed the Lord, if there was an opportunity for me to go back to Africa, please open up the door,” she enthused.In 1940 Joy O’Jon was brought to Guyana by a Bermudian missionary friend, and taken to live with her Aunt Ivy, her mother’s twin sister, in the East Coast Demerara village of Buxton. Her parents and siblings came later, except for her youngest brother who died in Africa. Buxton is where her life story really begins.Ms. O’Jon attended the Buxton Congregational School,Authentic Jerseys Cheap, and admits that her schooldays there were relatively uneventful, except for the day a small plane crash-landed on the sea front in the neighbouring village of Annandale, around 1945. She recalls with aAt a Dominion end-of-term partychuckle that ‘everyone poured out of school’ and ran to the sea wall, and to the spot where the crash occurred. Thankfully, she declares, no one died.She left the village school in 1947, having secured a government scholarship, and began a long and distinguished association with The Bishops’ High School, first as a student, then as a science teacher, and finally as headmistress of what was considered the premier high school for girls in the country.In reminiscing about her high school days, she remarked on my observation that she speaks in a very cultured and restrained manner. This she attributed to the expatriate teachers at Bishops’ who, she said, influenced by their own speech, both tone and diction in their charges.Ms. O’Jon’s secondary education lasted eight years, after which she left for the Mona Campus of the University College of the West Indies in Jamaica, on a conditional scholarship, to study for her Bachelor’s in Science, the condition being that she had to return to teach at Bishops’ for five years.Having achieved her BSc., she went on to get her Diploma in Education right there, and in 1959, returned to Guyana, and started her career as a science teacher at her alma mater. Returning to Bishops’ just four years after leaving the institution was, in herA farewell function for Ms. O’ Jon at Hauraruni, Upper Demerara Riverwords, ‘a lovely thing … coming back to your alma mater as a teacher.’This meant, of course, having to interact with some colleagues who were once her teachers, including the headmistress, Carmen Jarvis. But that wasn’t a problem, she asserted, since the staff at Bishops’ acted as a team and reached consensus on most issues, a development which Ms. O’Jon said helped lighten the load of responsibility, especially after she took over the headship from Ms. Jarvis.She said she also enjoyed a respectful relationship with students at Bishops’, although admitting that sometimes ‘things tended to get somewhat turbulent’ as is often the case with bright young people who are maturing intellectually, socially and politically.Ms. O’Jon revealed that Christian discipline has always been a part of her life. Her parents were both missionary workers, and members of the Christian Brethren Fellowship, an indigenous body started, by an Anglican clergyman in 1827. “So I grew up in a Christian home, got saved early, nine years, and baptized at 15,” she asserted.At Bishops’ she was a Bible Club member, part of the Inter-School and Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, (IS/IVCF) an inter-denominational studentMs. O’ Jon stands with centenarian Maud McAllister of the Kitty Women’s Bible Classministry which facilitates the proclamation of the gospel, and which she describes as a ‘bulwark for many a Christian’.Still a part of the Christian Brethren Fellowship, she is also a member of Aglow International, Guyana, (formerly Women’s Aglow) which meets regularly to pray, essentially for the country, members’ spouses, and each other. Members also get involved in extra-church activities such as reaching out evangelically to street children.Ms. O’Jon left Bishops’ and joined the staff of the Ministry of Education’s Science/Math Unit (SMU), then a part of the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD), as Science Education Coordinator/Teacher. She and SMU team members visited schools in several areas across the country, supervising and supporting teachersShe revealed that one of her main tasks at the unit was involvement in a project called the Emergency Science Programme, (ESP) the brainchild of her colleague, Ms. Dalgety “This was where we took teachers and trained them… kind of like a crash course, to be science teachers in the secondary schools. It was a programme offered by the Ministry of Education via the Distance Education Unit, and you had teachers from all over the country.”She noted that one feature of this programme presented hands-on experiences for its members in areas such as masonry, plumbing, carpentry and electrical installation, so that when science teachers went into the schools they could, in addition to teach, ‘handle themselves in a laboratory environment’.Ms. O’Jon was also Territorial Coordinator (Guyana) of the CXC/ACCC/CIDA Curriculum Project, an initiative geared at helping Science, Business, and Vocational Subject teachers in the Caribbean (and beyond) become more efficient and effective instructors.“This project was similar in purpose and design to our ESP; and in effect it did on a much wider scale what the local programme was doing in Guyana,” she observed.After leaving the Ministry of Education, upon retirement, Ms. O’Jon went to work in ‘the bush’ as it were. She took up an offer to teach Science voluntarily at a community school in Hauraruni, a co-operative village three miles off the Linden-Soesdyke Highway, founded by the Guyana Full Gospel Fellowship.There,NFL Jerseys Wholesale, from 1990 to 1997, she helped establish a secondary science department for students who had done well at the Secondary Schools Entrance Examination, but whose parents were unable to upkeep them, because of financial and transportation constraints while attending schools in Georgetown where they had been placed.The science department expanded and thrived, and a few years later permission was sought of the government to allow the first group of fifth form students there to write the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examination.It was granted, and the Hauraruni group promptly distinguished itself, with every student being awarded Grade One at the Basic Proficiency level in Integrated Science which, Ms. O’Jon explained, equated to the higher General Proficiency Certificate in that subject. So in effect, each student was credited with a GP achievement in Integrated Science.When asked to teach there, she had intended staying just two years, but after a ‘revelation’ by one Prophet Conrad Jordan that ‘God would lift the curse of ignorance in Guyana’ she decided to stay on. Later, when the students did well, she took the examination results as a reward from God for what was done.After a seven-year stint at Hauraruni, Ms. O’Jon left the community and turned her attention to helping Ms. Dalgety start her own school. Four years later, her colleague and friend (to whom she deferred as the one with the vision) opened the doors of Dominion Schools on Regent Road, with Ms. O’Jon assisting in administration. ‘God First’ was their guide, coupled with the motto ‘Knowledge with Integrity honours God’.The school admitted its first ‘batch’, two one-year-old pupils in September 2001.“Why so young?” I queried.“When we envisioned having the school, we wanted children from birth, but the logistics were difficult, so we decided the entry age would be one-and-a-half, the reason being that we wanted to train them for the Lord, and the younger you are, the more pliable … you want to teach them morals and Christianity before age five. We have two ‘distinctives’ – the first, that you should know God and be able to pray effectively, and the second, that you learn to read before you leave Nursery at age five,” Ms. O’Jon explained.She disclosed that one of the two children they started with, Sarah David-Longe, went on to secure the third highest place in the country when she wrote the SSEE after leaving from the school in Grade 2, the highest level the school allowed at that point. She had gone on to St. Agnes Primary and then to Success Elementary School from which she passed the examination.Nevertheless, Ms. O’Jon feels that they had some part in the child’s success,Cheap World Cup Jerseys, in helping to lay the foundation for it at an early age. She indicated that other ex-students in the batch that left with Sarah got places at President’s College and St. Stanislaus among other schools.The institution now has an enrolment of 45 children, and a staff of nine. And plans are underway to establish Dominion branches in various parts of the country, hence the plural ‘Schools’ in the name.What does the future hold for Dominion? Ms. O’Jon responds that Ms. Dalgety is considering expanding the school to accommodate a secondary department, as both of them are secondary-trained, and only ‘dabbling’ in primary education as she laughingly puts it; furthermore, they are setting their sights beyond secondary education to offer subjects at the university level since Ms. Dalgety has been trained in distance education, the vehicle to be used for the delivery of such a programme.This, she clarified, would be done through the use of multi-media instruction, modules, and online study, although time would have to be made for ‘fairly regular’ small group tutorials,  as well as plenary sessions periodically where the entire student body would meet and interface with their instructors.Ms. O’Jon draws social and spiritual sustenance from present and past membership in a number of organizations including the aforementioned Aglow International, the Caribbean Missions and Research Ministries, a pastor-mentoring organization led by Guyanese Paul Woolford, and the Valley of Decision Ministry,Cheap Jerseys Online, started by Trinidadian, Sister Gloria Gray, which holds faith-based ‘Fast Camps’ (no food, only water, for three days) periodically.She has received several commendations and awards for her educational and religious investment over the years. These include an Outstanding Service and Dedication award from The Bishops’ High School on its 125th anniversary, one from IS/IVCF in appreciation of sterling contribution to the ministry, and an SMU joint-prize awarded at a Commonwealth Association of Science and Math Educators competition.Ms. O’Jon is also a health enthusiast, and she is especially proud of an award she received from Golden Neo-Life Diamite, an international health-food corporation, for helping to sell a large amount of its Soft-Gel diet supplements.What about the age gap between her and her students? Never having had children of her own, she admits, “I am glad for the opportunity to interact with young persons, and to help to mould them; yes it was happening at Bishops’ but at that age (over 11) many of your mores are fixed; here our youngest is two years and our oldest is 10, and … I just see myself as devoted to this school.”Christ-centred,Cheap Arizona Coyotes Hoodies, success-oriented, and an education pioneer in her own right, Ms. Joy O’Jon continues to seek excellence in her work, and in her charges. This, as much as anything else she has done, qualifies her to receive KN’s ‘special person’ status.




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