TODAY’S WOTW is a Super Shero teacher who deserves to have a special light shone on her so that all can see just how amazing she is in her unique way.
Charlene Faucher-Joseph teaches at the Ave Maria Girls Primary School and has been teaching for 22 years.
This fun-loving and creative educator who is known to parents, students and fellow teachers alike as “Fancy Nancy”, is in a class of her own, with teaching methods and ideologies that stem from a place of pain and injustice that have birthed a mindset of fairness, love and mutual respect between her and her students.
Faucher-Joseph said her mantra is simple, yet effective. She said: “I try to be the best that I can be, really. I try to be a good role model. I simply try to motivate. I use my own experience of being at school. In the times when I was at school, there were always privileged children being treated better than others and I definitely was not one of them, but I figured that I had a good brain, so I was doing the best that I could and I did well.”
She continued: “Thankfully, I was disciplined with the morals and values that my mom instilled in me and I kept that. Although I may have had a few negative experiences, these have in turn made me want to make all of my children have only positive influences and experiences. I want them to feel free to speak to me at any time about anything. I make them as comfortable, because sometimes they can talk to their teachers better than anyone else.”
She added: “I want my girls to love coming to school, so I try to make school like home away from home so none of my children will want to stay away from school. Actually, when my girls are sick, their parents usually call and say that they can’t come to school (even though they want to). Everything my girls learn, I try to teach it in a fun and creative way to reach every child.”
Faucher-Joseph said she operates using mutual respect with her students as opposed to the “mean teacher” method.
She told The VOICE her worst experience at school was when she felt sick in class one day and wanted to throw up during the morning prayers. She went to her teacher and asked to be excused but was sent marching back to her seat. It was then that she threw up in the classroom; however, instead of being sent to be cared for, she was beaten by her teacher and then made to clean up the mess she had made.
To this day, she said, the experience has stuck with her and even as an adult, she has never been able to confront her former teacher for what she had put her through that day.
“That was an experience for me, and seeing where certain teachers would prefer other children based on who their parents were. So I always let all of my children know that I love them regardless of where they live, who their parents are, or how much money they have. If they don’t have, I tell them to come to school, that the school will provide. If I can’t provide, I will go to the office and say we need food or bus money for tomorrow or lunch for today and so on. So basically, I want every child to have a positive experience in school. Sometimes, my mother couldn’t afford and I used to go to school with nothing to eat in the day. My friends would share with me or sometimes I wouldn’t even tell anybody and I would stay whole day with anything to eat. But I was fine because look at me now.”
One of her many wonders is that she manages without using corporal punishment, yet her lessons are effective and her girls are always top performers. She said this has been really difficult because at times she has been tested to the point of wanting to quit teaching; however, beating is not something she believes in.
She said: “As we go through time, the children are getting worse because some of them are not getting the discipline that they need. But for sure we know the corporal punishment does not work. Even if you beat the child today, she will still go back and do the same thing. So I use incentives, for example. I have a behaviour chart and the five girls who get to Superb, I will treat them with a trip to the cinema, a class party, a pyjama party, or little things, things I know they like. I say that’s something that can be done and it takes nothing off me. So I motivate them and let them know that if they act right, they will get the rewards. But it’s getting more difficult with time because you have some children who really don’t care about incentives.”
Faucher-Joseph said the one thing she would like to see is parents playing more active roles in raising their children in the right way because they simply allow the children to get away with too much, which they in turn take to the school, behaviour that is not good for them or their peers.
This teacher’s secret illustrates her genuine love for what she does.
She said: “I can be a bit introverted at times and want to retreat into a shell. But as soon as I come to class, I’m more confident and relaxed among the children rather than adults. They’re less judgmental, I guess, and you know what they say about people who bring their problems to work and pass it out on others. Well, when I come to work, my problems disappear because I genuinely love what I do so much and my girls make me feel so much better.”