Carpe Diem Corner features Beverly Hyatt, long serving and highly respected Math teacher at MBHS.
The interview was first published in the MBHS Reunion Facebook group in 2015.
The interviewer is Dr. Brian James.
BJ: Mrs. Hyatt...The Facebook group "MBHS Reunion", has recognised the outstanding work you have done at our school and would like to explore the person Beverly Hyatt some more and what makes her the dynamic educator she is. Tell us about your early education.
Bev Hyatt: Firstly, I was christened Beverley . My mom died when I was 10 yrs old; I grew up with my grandad in Winchester where I attended Winchester Primary School. Education was not priority for Grandad so I did not go to school on Fridays. I was taken out of school in Grade 6 for almost a year to take care of my sick grandma. As a result, I did not sit Common Entrance Exams and later went to Stokes Hall Secondary.
BJ...: After Stokes Hall, did you go to college?
Bev Hyatt: Yes sir; went to Mico College and did Primary Ed. I taught at Yallahs Primary then went to UWI Mona where I majored in Math Education. That was by a luck of the draw it seemed...
BJ...: Tell us how you ended up teaching math at MBHS.
Bev Hyatt: I got four months vacation leave in 1993 and applied to teach math at MBHS for the period. Got the job, was told by principal it was because nobody else had applied.
However, when I was to return to Yallahs Primary on the 1st of May, the principal wrote to the Ministry of Education to request an extension until August. It was granted and I stayed. The principal requested again that I join the staff for September but I declined and returned to Yallahs. After my studies at UWI in 1999 I expressed a desire to return to MBHS....here I am.
BJ...: What would you deem the highlight of your time teaching at MBHS?
Bev Hyatt: Definitely the time spent with the kids, touching their lives...making a difference.
BJ...: Any specific time that you can point to?
Bev Hyatt: Yes, several; when I took on the pilot group for Additional Math, there was one child who was failing every test, every exam, everything. I called Mom but Mom was at her wits end. I called Dad several times but was ignored. I was determined that this child will be successful so I took him on myself.. found him at school, called him every night, did all I could. He got a one in CSEC math!
BJ...: By "the pilot group" you mean a group of 4th formers doing CSEC math in preparation for Additional Math in 5th form. Give us some details about that project and the successes you have got out of these children.
Bev Hyatt: The children were afraid to be a part of this project so the Year Supervisor selected 20 students, whether they wanted to or not. I added one (my friend's child who was struggling with math) and one boy sneaked in. I realized 2 weeks later that he was not selected to be there.
Anybody who knows me, knows that I turn away no child, so I ended up with 22. It was a struggle at times but the children worked hard and produced 21 Grade 1s and a Grade 2....and I am proud to say the Grade 2 did not come from the student whom I had to call every night, neither did it come from my friend's son nor the student who sneaked in.
BJ...: Give us some details on the kinds of strategies you employ to have the students achieving such phenomenal performances.
Bev Hyatt: First thing is to get them motivated. Everyone likes to feel loved, respected and appreciated...the students are no exception. As a matter of fact I think they need it more, so I invest time in doing it. Once they feel loved and respected, my job is much easier. Preparation is important as well, both on the part of the teacher and the student.
BJ...: What are some of the things you do to make the students feel loved and respected?
Bev Hyatt: I speak to them with respect, I hug them, I am sensitive to their needs. If a child is absent from my class, you can bet your sweet life I have to know why. Many of the times they are challenged financially, emotionally, socially. I reach out and assist them in any way I can. As adults, we tend to think that children are stress free but that's far from the truth, some of them have more problems and struggles than adults.
BJ...: How would you respond to people who insist that math is a difficult subject and only people with special "math brains" can do well at it?
Bev Hyatt: I will continue to refute that....math is one of the easiest subjects in my opinion. The concepts are the same from primary school, all we do is build on it. Each time I am teaching a concept, I revisit the one learnt in primary school. eg (2x +3)/4 - (x +2)/5 is done in a similar manner to 3/4 - 2/5.
BJ...: So would you say that attitudes among parents, teachers and the community towards math can have a significant influence on the outcomes in the classroom?
Bev Hyatt: Certainly! Its the fear and negative attitude that impacts my classroom the most. As I said earlier, if I can get them motivated, the success rate skyrockets.
BJ...: How would Beverly Hyatt like to see mathematics advance at MBHS in the next 5 years?
Bev Hyatt: Beverley would like to see MBHS advance to 100% pass in the CSEC math and the CAPE math...if it can be done with Additional Math, it can be done in the others.
BJ...: We are told that you have been appointed Mathematics Master Teacher. What does this entail and how will it help you actualise your love for helping children do well in the subject?
Bev Hyatt: A Master Teacher is appointed after a very rigorous assessment, to someone who excels in the field but also empowers others in the school community. As a Master Teacher my role takes me away from MBHS to give support to neighbouring schools. That's how I learned that the students at MBHS are fortunate....the students in Jamaica need more teachers who care about their job and also care about the students.
BJ...: My final question...many have said that Beverly Hyatt possesses the best mix of qualities to take on the mantle of principal and lead the school to the next level of progress and accomplishment. How would you respond to these persons?
Bev Hyatt: I may possess the qualities but I don't have the heart. I wake up every morning anxious to go to work because I love what I do. I don't even see it as work, its like a hobby. I get the success I do because of the heart...the love...the passion. I do not have that for a principal position and so I don't think I would be as successful at it.
BJ...: Thank you very much Mrs. Hyatt although we have to end by agreeing to disagree.