By Chika Abanobi
When Mrs. Theresa Ngozi Enilamah, wife of Mr. Patrick Enilamah, former Principal Manager, Human Resources and Administration of the Sun Publishing Ltd, Lagos, and proprietress, Celebrity Schools, Adesina Lawal Street, Bada, Ishefon, Ayobo, Ipaja, in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos, vowed in a chat with The Sun Education to pay her teachers regularly she must have had her sight set on that old dictum: a company that pays peanuts will soon have monkeys working for it.
“If the teachers are not paid, they will not be focused, they would keep looking here and there for help and a disgruntled teacher cannot give his or her best to a child,” she informed. “That’s why I ensure that my teachers are regularly paid even though they are not being paid much. Even when the expected money is not forthcoming from parents, because they keep begging and begging, I look for money from elsewhere and pay them. So, I always make sure that at least I satisfy the teachers and then manage what is remaining.”
Good business sense, wouldn’t you rather say! But that is hardly surprising. Mrs. Enilamah who taught for 37 years, rising from the classroom teacher to a supervisor at Greensprings School, Anthony, Lagos, Head Teacher, Nursery and Primary, and lastly Principal respectively at Murtala Muhammed Airforce School, (formerly FAAN – Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria), Staff School, Ikeja, Lagos (1999 -2014), before retiring, is the daughter of schoolteachers (her father retired as a Principal Grade 1 after serving in many schools in the old Mid-west and later Bendel State, while her mother retired as a classroom teacher). So? It is taken for granted that the holder of Bachelor of Education (University of Benin, UNIBEN) and Masters in Early Child Education (Lagos State University, LASU), should know the bolts and nuts of the teaching profession likes she knows the palm of her hand.
“I have taught for 37 years and I have all it takes,” she said when asked her reason for establishing the school. “I felt that with all these wealth of experience I should have a small place where I should further impact pupils. I feel that if I did it in other places with a passion, I should also be able to do the same with my own. I want to give glory to God because I have never seen any child that passed through me that is nobody and that gives me the encouragement to continue. Sometimes when I get to some places like the bank, somebody would say, ‘Good afternoon, Mrs. Enilamah.’ And I would reply in a way that shows that I was wondering where I knew the person, before he or she would say, ‘Ah, ah, you were my teacher now.’ Such things give me joy and that is what is pushing me despite challenges.
“Parents knew me before I set up this school. They believe in me. And they would say, ‘Mummy, we know that we are not paying enough, but let our children be here.’ That trust in me is what keeps me going. Looking back at the work I have done in other places, they are places where parents would come back to say, ‘Thank you. You taught my child well.’
“Not many schools here are able to teach all the subjects because of the financial implications especially at this time of recession. But in my own case my school is able to teach almost all those subjects that a school should teach. In addition to other subjects, we teach French, we take the diction lesson and music. These are subjects that interest parents and their wards because not every school can afford to pay all those extra teachers.
“And, during graduation when the parents find out that their children are able to speak good English diction, or speak, sing or do recitations in French, they are happy. Apart from doing sports and cultural fiestas, we do musical jamboree, Commonwealth Games, including the Valentine Day and parents come in to see what we are doing. Our vision at Celebrity Schools is to give our children the kind of education that will make them self-independent, that will make them to use their initiatives to do so many things for themselves. We don’t intend to produce children that will continue to depend on their parents but responsible young men and women in the society and also patriotic.”
For the five-year-old school that at the moment is populated with students from the nursery to the junior secondary school level, it is morning yet on creation day.