Cor­po­ral Natalee Wil­liams: A hero for many

Jamaica Gleaner - - RURAL EXPRESS - Carl Gilchrist Gleaner Writer ru­ral@glean­erjm.com

OCHO RIOS, St Ann: IT MIGHT have taken the Ocho Rios High School’s so­cial stud­ies de­part­ment’s recog­ni­tion of the work of Cor­po­ral Natalee Wil­liams to drive home the point that she has played a cru­cial role in the lives of stu­dents at the school.

But, truth be told, Wil­liams has been a guid­ing light to lit­er­ally hun­dreds of stu­dents from sev­eral schools across the parish for many years now.

A lot of stu­dents see her as more than just a po­lice of­fi­cer. To many, she is like a big sis­ter.

It is a call that goes be­yond her nor­mal course of duty and she now feels it is her per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that stu­dents take the right path dur­ing their years at school, and be­yond.

The award, pre­sented by Elsworth Gooden, head of the so­cial stud­ies de­part­ment, and teacher Ca­role Davis Cun­ning­ham, came in the form of a plaque, on which was in­scribed, in part — “With great hon­our and recog­ni­tion, we salute you for eight years of loyal and ster­ling ser­vice to the Ocho Rios High School, fam­ily, your brav­ery and strength of char­ac­ter rep­re­sents that of a true hero. You are our lo­cal hero.”

It was the sec­ond award in just a mat­ter of months, as a sim­i­lar award was pre­sented to her by Fern­court High School ear­lier this year.

“The award was as a result of the many lives I would have touched and changed over the years, work­ing at Ocho Rios High School and the rest of high schools in St Ann,” Wil­liams told Ru­ral Xpress.

The impact she cre­ated would have been due, in part, to the sev­eral pro­grammes she im­ple­mented in the schools.

These in­clude the So­cial Com­pe­tence pro­gramme rolled out at Fern­court in 2009 be­cause of the many of­fences stu­dents com­mit­ted at the school.

These stu­dents, in­stead of be­ing sus­pended or oth­er­wise pun­ished, were placed in this pro­gramme and given a chance to re­deem them­selves.

The de­bate com­pe­ti­tion, in­tro­duced in 2014 by the St Ann Po­lice Di­vi­sion, is also play­ing its part in help­ing to re­fo­cus stu­dents.

CHANG­ING ATITUDES

“The ones who are at risk, they can see a way of chang­ing their at­ti­tude, chang­ing their lives to now be­come agents of change them­selves,” Wil­liams pointed out.

She added: “The de­bate com­pe­ti­tion is re­ally about iden­ti­fy­ing the needy chil­dren be­cause what I re­alise, you have per­sons out there, cor­po­rate Ja­maica who are will­ing to in­vest in chil­dren. You have some chil­dren who are re­ally bril­liant but they don’t have any money, their par­ents are poor; so what we do is en­gage stake­hold­ers like Moneague Col­lege, which gave us a schol­ar­ship in 2014, and they are will­ing to give us at least three more schol­ar­ships.”

Per­sons who do well in math­e­mat­ics and in the de­bate com­pe­ti­tion are the likely re­cip­i­ents of these schol­ar­ships.

But there is the one-on-one talk with stu­dents that might even be more cru­cial in help­ing to shape these young­sters.

“When you can hear peo­ple speak­ing badly about po­lice daily, I can’t speak of that ex­pe­ri­ence. This is be­cause of the youth that I am al­ways en­cour­ag­ing and al­ways go­ing out there to help.” said Wil­liams, who has served the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force for 16 years.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Cor­po­ral Natalee Wil­liams (cen­tre) with her award from Ocho Rios High School. She is flanked by Elsworth Gooden, head of the So­cial Stud­ies De­part­ment, and Ca­role Davis Cun­ning­ham, so­cial stud­ies teacher.

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