• Foundation unveils teachers’ reward on earth as three of them win N3.5m
By Perpetua Egesimba
One of the major reasons many young school leavers avoid the teaching profession like plague is the old saying that the teacher’s reward is in heaven. That is the belief that Meadow Hall Foundation, a subsidiary of Meadow Hall Group, sought to debunk recently when it paid out a mouth-watering sum of N3.5m to three teachers it felt excelled in the teaching profession in 2016. The new message it now wants everybody to imbibe: there’s no reason the teacher’s reward cannot be in both heaven and earth.
The teachers won the cash prizes at the Inspirational Educator Awards (INSEA) as part of the programme line-up to mark the foundation’s 15th year anniversary celebration. Divided into two categories, “the Inspirational School Leader of the Year Award” and “The Inspirational Teacher of the Year Award,” the awards are aimed at elevating the teaching profession and motivating schoolteachers and educationists to continue to strive for excellence in the profession.
Earlier in April 2017, the competition for schoolteachers who their students felt were resourceful, caring and innovative and who have made an inspirational impact on their students and communities both in private and public schools in Lagos was thrown open with request for an online voting. Following the online voting and nominations, a panel of judges selected the final winners based on pre-defined criteria.
It was its judgement based on that final selection that saw Mrs. Oluremi Tanimola, a Biology Teacher in Army Children Senior High School, Ikeja Military Cantonment emerge winner of the “Inspirational School Leader of the Year” award with a cash prize of N2m, Ms. Odueke Abiodun, from Station Junior Grammar School, Station Bus Stop, Ifako Ijaiye, winner of the “Inspirational Teacher of the Year” with cash prize of ₦1m, and Mr. Tolulope Odunsanya of Abibat Mogaji Millennium Senior Secondary School, Agege, first runner-up of the “Inspirational Teacher of the Year” with a cash reward of ₦500,000.
For the three teachers the rewards were as inspirational as the inspirational stories of the impact they made in various areas of their jobs. Speaking at Harbour Point, Victoria Island Lagos, Mrs. Kemi Adewoye, Head of Meadow Hall Foundation said that she was excited that despite the challenges they faced in their profession, the awardees worked hard to improve children’s access to quality education.
“It is often said that the quality of an educational system can never surpass the quality of its teachers,” she said. “But I am happy that there are inspirational stories from all over Nigeria. This platform is to bring out the stories and inspire teachers to do more. The Inspirational Educator Awards for 2017 was opened to only educators in Lagos State. As from 2018, the award will be open to all teachers in Nigeria.”
Full of excitement as she clutched tightly to her N2m cheque, Mrs. Tanimola, who has been a schoolteacher for 26 years (she got redeployed as a Vice Principal in February 2017), enthused in a chat with The Sun Education: “This is a huge surprise, it is quite amazing and I give glory to God. This award will inspire me to do more and to put in more passion on what I do. I will continually be a blessing to the ones committed into my hands. If there is anything that gives me joy, it is to touch the life of every youth that comes my way.”’
On what she thinks stood her out among others, she said, her ICT knowledge made the difference. “The desire to learn and do things differently using my knowledge of ICT to teach and guide students in their studies are the secrets of my outstanding performance,” she said.
Looking smart, Ms. Abiodun hinged her basis for winning the award on her decision to make a difference by going out of her way to make sure she impacts positively on her students. It was such that she had to take her passion for the total development of the Nigerian child beyond the four walls of her classroom to her community where she teaches secondary school drop-outs from her school and neighbouring schools about values/character education, and connects them to mentors and vocational trainers to help them acquire skills.
“I teach in places where most of the learners are from the lower class in their environments and education is not really valued, their parents are not really receptive to education,” she told The Sun Education. “For them, education is not the way out. So it is hard to convince these parents to get the things necessary for the education of their kids. So sometimes as a teacher, you have to go out of your way, buy books for them and make an impact in their lives.
“Most of the time, I spend my time outside school to look for dropouts and make sure they acquire a skill, so it is not only about the subject that I teach. It is about how much value and impact that I can add in the lives of these young kids out there. “
Mr. Odunsanya, said he loves teaching as he was shaped by a teacher mentor and he is now inspiring other teachers to be passionate and innovative like he is. He said that what won him the award is because he likes spending extra-time with his students especially during holidays and that has paid off with his recognition and cash reward of N500, 000.
“Sometimes I organize some things I know will help them in life to solve their challenges,” he said. “I sometime teach them during the holiday period, weekends to make sure I assist and encourage them academically.”
The three awardees advised teachers to always learn from their fellow teachers, to be self-motivated, and to ensure continuous improvement and personal development and to always put in their best in training the students put in their care as they never know who is at the corner watching what they are doing. They also appreciated Meadow Hall Foundation for their commitment, transparency and flawless process in selecting the winners of the Inspirational Educator Awards and keeping to their promise. Moreover, they thanked their students, fellow teachers, school management and Lagos State government for providing them with an opportunity to share their inspirational stories.
Lagos State Deputy Governor and Commissioner for Education, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Deputy Governor’s Office, Mrs. Yetunde Odejayi, was also presented with the “Education Champion Award” by the Foundation.
She appreciated Meadow Hall Foundation for the award while promising to continue to do more in enhancing quality and accessible education for all Lagosians. The Vice Chairman of Meadow Hall Foundation Board, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, who presented the cheques to the winners, urged them to continue to strive for excellence in their teaching profession and to join the foundation’s ambassadorial team to advocate for quality education at all levels.
For contributing immensely to the development of education in the society, there were other key personalities who were recognized and awarded. They included members of staff of the foundation who are committed to the organization by displaying exemplary service and loyalty since Meadow Hall’s inception in 2002.