Once labeled as a slow learner; now the holder of a Bachelors in Education among other accomplishments, Donrico Stewart became a teacher to provide a responsive and conducive learning environment for those who, like himself, struggled to pursue their secondary education.
“I was a slow learner during my time in secondary school and though I was passionate about learning, I was sometimes overlooked. I made the decision one day to become a teacher and assist all students regardless of their learning ability or potential,” Stewart recalled.
Currently teaching Principles of Accounts (POA), Office Administration (OA) and Social Studies at the Kingston Secondary School, ‘Sir Stewart’ said that teaching is a passion that cannot diminish but grow as it is his hope to make a difference in young people lives.
“There are academic needs which need to be fulfilled by students and I see myself as that individual who is motivated to inspire, to encourage, to push and to enable students to realize their true potential. So, I believe that I have what it takes to help students achieve their goal where education is concerned, especially those attending secondary schools,” he noted.
Every student deserves an opportunity to gain a sound education regardless of their learning ability. This is the mantra that Stewart used to push himself to pursue and complete his studies at Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).
Stewart said his passion for teaching and dedication to ‘slow learners’ led to the establishment of Stewart’s Academic Institute (SAI), now located at 33 Joseph Pollydore Street, Lodge in October 2014. A decision that he does not regret as it provides him with the opportunity to not only teach his full-time students but school dropouts, including those who were not successful in completing their secondary education.
From its early roots, of offering extra-curricular studies to both young and old, the institute has grown over the years.
“It (SAI) starts with ensuring that the quality, delivery of education in the classroom meets the required standards and the teachers are able to work with any category of student or learner. I believe that our goal of making this institute a premier secondary school is hard work and that is what we have been doing since 2014. We will continue to work hard, motivate, encourage and we will continue to ensure that there is efficient and effective teaching and learning at this institute,” Stewart assured.
The institute has added new subjects among them Human and Social Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Spanish, Additional Mathematics to its curriculum since the start of the new school year.
Michael Lawrence, who wrote six subjects at SAI, said he was seeking additional assistance to pass his business subjects at the CXC level.
“I was not au fait of where else to seek help, so when I came here, I came with the intention of only studying three subjects. However, I quickly changed my mind and took on additional subjects,” Lawrence recalled.
He said that Stewart quickly became his support system and would not change his experience. “I want to be a teacher and that certain quality I expected to see in a teacher, that is what I saw in Sir Stewart,” Lawrence added he is returning to complete studies in Economics.
After dropping out of school, Dhashiel Walks said she learned of Stewart and SAI from a friend. “It was challenging I came out of school eight years ago and since then I never picked up a book again. So, it was challenging for me because most of the students at SAI were either still in school or have completed school… But Sir Stewart was really good. Sometimes if I did not grasp what was taught in the class, he would take the time after class to further tutor me until I understood the subject,” Walks said.
Over the years, SAI has achieved an overall pass rate in excess of 90 percent, including in the two core subjects – English Language and Mathematics.