“Check the position of your capacity gauge, before tackling any challenge as it may take more or less than you “have.” – William Maphoto.
Let us take a brief look at capacity building in schools, on the individual or personal level. Michelle Maiese in “Capacity Building” (August 2005) stated: “capacity building aims to strengthen parties’ ability to work together for their mutual benefit by providing them with the skills and tools they need to define problems and issues and formulate solutions.”
Principals must constantly seek to build capacity in members of staff at all levels, teaching and non-teaching alike. This will include constant monitoring, along with encouragement and support in upgrading qualifications and professional training. This is a sure way to develop people and institutions and some individuals will be led to develop themselves way beyond all expectations.
They must be given more responsibility and freedom of action once they have proved themselves. This brings me to the story of Mr. Michael Crawford, an outstanding teacher at my former school. His story has already been told in the Nation Newspaper in Barbados and many people have been inspired by the former groundsman and porter at The Lodge school, Barbados, who became a teacher at the same school. At present Mr. Crawford is the Acting Head of the Business and Computer Studies Department at The Lodge school, and from all reports he is doing a great job.
Mr, Michael Crawford left school at age 15 with no qualifications and first worked as a labourer and sugar cane cutter. He came to The Lodge school as a groundsman in 1979. His fine intellect was discovered by Mr. MacDonald Fingall, a dynamic and outspoken former physical education teacher, who often operated above and beyond the call of duty and who motivated and inspired many students who went on to become brilliant athletes, sportsmen, professionals and entertainers.
Mr. Fingall became Mr. Crawford’s mentor and drew his intelligence to the attention of the administration. With encouragement and support from Mr. Fingall and Mr. Ishmael Roett, the owner of a private educational institution named ” The “O” Level Institute,” Mr. Crawford enrolled in evening classes and in due time passed his Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) certificates. Then, in 1997 he sat and passed advanced level accounts. In time, he registered as a student at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, in Barbados.
Throughout his studies he received the full encouragement, attention and support of the Board of Management, principal and staff of The Lodge School. We made sure that he had the academic support and time that he needed. Today, he holds a Bachelor of Science, Upper Second Class Honours Degree in Accounts, a Diploma in Education, and a Master’s Degree in Project Management. He is a respected acting head of department and an excellent teacher as well. He has come a long way and continues to serve his school in even greater measure. Before I forget, he has also represented our school in cricket.
After I became principal we would talk about his progress from time to time and I assured him that the Board of Management, the staff and I would love to have him on the teaching staff. He was still a porter at that time. One of the happiest days of my tenure as principal was the day I publicly welcomed him as a member of the teaching staff of The Lodge School. He has been an inspiration to many students and members of the non-teaching staff. The Michael Crawford story is not an isolated case at The Lodge school. Since then, a few other members of the non-teaching staff have gained university degrees with the full encouragement and support of the administration.