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A Lifetime of Education Excellence

September 02
13:09 2019

Sunday, September 1st. 2019 –

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” — William Arthur Ward

She is long retired from full-time teaching, but octogenarian Hortence Wade, J.P. continues to inspire standard six students to not only pass, but to excel in the Primary School Examinations (PSE). The lifetime educator teaches on the lower flat of her home on 12th Street, King’s Park, Belize City but, her focus is now on students who seek private tutoring in preparation for the PSE and over the past 12 years since she has been doing so, has helped to produce some of Belize’s top performers from year to year in the exams!

Students like Siian Rancharan – the first student to score a perfect mark on the exams in 2010, and Xux Ek Novelo who was the top scorer in 2007 and is now pursuing her Ph.D. in Taiwan. There was also Tara Holder, now a doctor at Duke University, who placed second on the exams in 2004, and her younger brother, Donovan Holder who placed second in 2006. Altogether, since she has been helping standard six students to prepare for the PSE, Wade reckons that more than 30 students who were top 10 finishers of the PSE have passed through her hands. These scholars’ accomplishments alone disclose the type of mentor they had as a pillar of support.

The exemplary educator was born Hortence Humphreys in Burrell Boom, where the Resource Center is named for her Jamaican grandfather who came to Belize and stayed. While she can boast a long line of teachers in her family, at the age of 14 the push into education came from her older brother, late Minister Louis Humphreys, who started out teaching. She explained that at that time, it was very difficult for a girl to access a high school education because it simply was not the culture for girls to study. Aside from that, those that were interested had to have the support of a wealthy family to pay for it. So, upon finishing standard six, she followed in her big brother’s footsteps and started to take the teachers’ exam at age 15, and the remaining four exams over a five-year period. She passed all of them and became a first class certified teacher before the age of 20.

Her first classroom experience as a teacher was at the Burrell Boom Methodist Primary School. It would be the first of many years in the public classroom and years later, she would also return to the same school that taught her in her early years as a child, to become the principal in the early 90s when she retired from the government service. She decided it was time to leave seven years later and went to help start what is now the prestigious Hummingbird Elementary – a private school that also produces some of Belize’s best PSE performers. In 2010 she retired from full-time teaching, but was still instrumental in helping to prepare the school’s standard six teachers on a part-time basis, serving at that institution for a total of 12 years.

The senior educator did not stop educating herself either. Through the years, as she taught school children, she saw the need to also further her learning potential, and later on, in 1986, at the age of 50, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree (Hons.) in Education from UWI, Mona Campus.

Wade is the recipient of a host of other certificates from Belize and the Caribbean in Teaching and Education, and is also a former General Manager of Government Primary Schools. Aside from these accomplishment, she has a collection of personal short stories that she has written about issues that she felt strongly about but never made up her mind to publish. She has served on the advisory committee for several institutions: Belize Rural High School, ACC, Belize Library Board, the National Commission for UNESCO, and the Board of Governors for the Belize Teachers College; and produced a radio program called Education Today. She was an editor and publisher of the Ministry of Education’s newsletter called Focus on Education and was a co-author and member of the advisory team for the McMillan Publishing Ltd.’s series of books called Primary Social Studies for Belize from infant 1 to standard 6, including the Teachers text and Students text and workbook.
In recognition for her contribution to education in Belize, this seasoned teacher has received numerous recognitions and awards, including a Meritorious Service Award; and even has a street in the Lake Independence division named after her!
Now fully on her own, each year Wade receives up to eight standard six students at a time at her classroom setting at her residence. She explained that while the classroom is big enough to comfortably seat 16, she prefers to have only eight students because it affords them the chance to connect one on one and to work with each one personally. She tutors them in the four core areas that are sat on the PSE: Math, English, Science and Social Studies.

Aside from Math, she feels Social Studies is one of the areas in which students lack critical knowledge. “It bleeds my heart when these children say – Miss, we went on a school trip to Altun Ha, and I ask them – ‘which highway did you use to reach there?’ and they do not know!” she lamented. “So I ask ‘in which district is Altun Ha?’ They don’t know! Which villages do you pass on your way to Altun Ha? They do not know!” she expressed. The educator pointed out that these are elementary things that school children should know.

She takes that concern one step further and shared her candid view that somewhere along the imparting of knowledge by teachers and the actual learning by students, something is lost. And it is reflected in the overall performance of the students’ performance in the same PSE.

“The PSE is to test how well the schools are delivering the curriculum, but they have (generally) lost that altogether,” she expressed.

ade is the wife of Norris Wade and the mother of three sons and a daughter.

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