NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (May 02, 2014) — Premier of Nevis and Minister of Education Hon. Vance Amory publicly lauded the efforts of a Nevisian educator who spent more than 30 years caring for children with special needs on Nevis.
During a ceremony on April 29, 2014, to rename the Special Education Unit at Prospect the “Cecele Brown Integrated School” in honour of Cecele Thompson-Browne, the first teacher and supervisor of the learning institution, the Premier spoke of the difference her caring heart and soul made to the students.
“Here we are today giving recognition to one of our very own who made a distinct difference by having a vision of what could be accomplished when over the years it seemed as if there was no hope…Clearly Mrs. Thompson [-Browne] gave of her total self to this institution and to these children and those children who you have seen come up over those years…
“Anyone who has had the good fortune to work with Pastor, Mrs. Cecele Thompson-Browne knows and understands the unique connection she has had with the children with special needs, therefore, she was the architect of this institution…It is clear that our honouree cared about the children regardless of their disabilities or any kind of problem or deficiency they would have had and it is that love for them that became all-embracing and far reaching. She inspired the children not with schemes… but with love, with love because…it is fact that love, with ideas and just a basic decent human character which drove her to achieve her very best,” he said.
According to Mr. Amory, the Unit was specially created to cater to the development of the island’s children with learning disabilities and was something with purpose.
“The purpose was to enhance the life skills of the students that come to this school. I think all of us will be aware of the challenge which this might have posed for all of the teachers.
“Mrs. Thompson-Browne as the initial person and all the others who worked with her and followed after her but I want to say, that like all challenges in life, they present opportunities for those who are faced with those to excel and to make the best of the opportunity to bring something, as it were, out of nothing and to bring a positive out of what is consumed and conceived to be a negative and I think today we can say that we are here on a positive note because of that,” he said.
However, he said it was not by accident that Mrs. Cecele Thompson-Browne who is today a Reverend in the Wesleyan Holiness Church chosen to rename the school in her honour.
“We are not renaming the edifice. We are naming the process in honour of this very important lady whose name will be placed on the walls but more than that, whose memory and whose vision, will always be part of and the heart and the soul of this institution for as long as it will go on…
“So…I’ve sought to place on record the fact that we are honouring Reverend Mrs Cecele Thompson-Browne today and it was not a decision which came lightly…This decision came about of through research and through discussion which led to the final decision to name this institution after our honouree today,” he said.
The Premier reminded those present that they should not stigmatise children with disabilities and that they were, like all other children, special gifts from God who could all contribute meaningfully to the development of Nevis.
“This institution of learning has achieved wonders for Nevis…and sometimes we take for granted these special people and sometimes we want to push them in the background. I want to say to any parent who believes or thinks that they’ve got a child who is showing signs of having difficulty with any learning, not to feel any stigma about it. Every single child is a special gift from God and you need to look at that and take it seriously
“You heard that our honouree today went into all the highways and the byways to identify and to bring in those who could benefit and so here we are today. We have special Olympians with gold medals. I’ve never gotten an Olympic gold medal in my life and I thought that I was a good athlete… I have never achieved what these children have achieved and so here you have Olympians. You’ve got an artist. You’ve got craftsmen. You have carpenters. I know the tall Rivers boy. He’s from Church Ground, who works with an establishment where he does carpentry with them and you have a young lady…who works at the library and is one of the most capable persons,” he said.
Mr. Amory added that during the Job Attachment in 2013 he was advised that one young man, a graduate from the Special Education Unit was attached to the Information Technology Unit and because he did so well a decision was made to keep him employed there.
He used the occasion to thank the teachers who had worked with the Special Education Unit over the years because he said they had taken the responsibility, rose to the challenge and had equipped the students who had been in their care with competencies of self-management and self-reliance.
“You have enhanced the capacity of your students to make their contribution to our Nevisian society in their own way,” he said.
The Education Minister also thanked the wider community for their partnership with the school.
“Let me not just dwell on teachers who work at the institution but there are those who are involved in training them for the Olympics, physical education…There is a whole combination of community effort to make sure that the students who come to this school have succeeded, have done well, have a better appreciation of life and I want to thank all of you who have worked with our students over the years because …without partnership, without community effort you really don’t achieve as much as we can with it,” he said.