Vera McBean/Past Principals




TEACHING is in Mrs. Vera McBean's blood. The retired principal of the Rio Bueno all-age school in Trelawny comes from a family of teachers, so it was only natural that she enter the profession.

"I'm from a teaching string, my mom was a teacher and insisted I be a teacher too," Mrs. McBean told THE STAR.

"I wanted to be a nurse, but when she saw how I performed in school and how I led from the front, she told me she wanted me to teach and I didn't rebel."

Apart from her mother, Mrs. McBean's aunt, uncle and two sisters were also teachers.

"I had a grand uncle, he and all his children were also teachers," she said.

Mrs McBean was born in Kentucky, Westmoreland, and attended the Kentucky Elementary school. After leaving, she studied for over a year at Buxton High School, Kingston, before enrolling at the Bethlehem Teachers' College in Malvern, St. Elizabeth.

After teachers' college, she taught at several schools including, Elletson Road Elementary, Kingston; Chantilly, Caledonia, and Beaufort Elementary, all in Westmoreland; Madras Elementary, St. Ann; and Seaside Rural School, Portland.

She ended her teaching years at Rio Bueno All-Age School. She went to that school as principal in 1966 and spent 28 years there until she retired in 1994.

Mrs McBean says the violence that now exists in schools is not new. She says there was always fighting among students while she taught. She admitted, however, that it has become more serious than when she was serving. The violence, she says, stems from encounters in the homes and communities and lack of parental supervision.

On a more positive note, Mrs. McBean says a special moment for her, while she taught, was when she chose several students from Rio Bueno to take exams. She said the exams cost five shillings and when she told the children to inform their parents, they all came back saying their parents had no money.

Mrs. McBean took it upon herself to pay for the children's exams and they did very well.

"They were happy and it was a very joyful time," Mrs. McBean recalled. "Some came hugging and crying and saying thank you and it really really made me feel good."

The retired teacher did not have to think twice when asked if she would do it over again.

"I'd be a teacher again. I know I'm not going to get any money but when you see the child you had assisted to make something of his life, and see how that child has gone on to help others in the same way, it's really a blessing," she said.

Jamaica Daily Gleaner Article - By David Dunkley






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