“Man Plans, and God Laughs.” Despite our most careful planning and desires, life is unpredictable. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Unexpected disappointing or exhilarating changes can upend our best-laid plans in life. Many of us are good at enjoyable professions which we never foresaw. A prime example of this reality is the life of a retired educator, Mrs Patricia Eves-McKenzie.
Mrs Eves- McKenzie was always ambitious and hardworking. Fueled by advice from her maternal grandmother, her consistent life desire is experiencing triumphant successes. Success and reaching her fullest potential kept Eves-McKenzie’s focus. However, she had no idea that one day, she would become a stalwart educator.
Growing up, she fixated on becoming an air hostess. While waiting for her final exam results in grade 11, she had a career discussion with her Principal. Her Principal, based on observations, thought she would become an excellent teacher:
Love for Teaching
During a teaching practicum, Patricia fell in love with teaching. The willingness of the students to learn, combined with her eagerness to educate others was bliss. This experience developed and nurtured her passion for teaching children. The same love would have caused her to impact countless amounts of lives.
In 1967 Patricia graduated from Shortwood Teachers’ College after completing three years. Later that year, she began her career as a grade 6 teacher at the Mona Preparatory School in Kingston. She had a delightful experience there, but she left after a year to fulfil her desire to work in the public sector.
She met Reverend Dr Richmond Nelson, former Principal of the Oberlin High School in July of that same year. He sent her to with a message to Mr Donald Collins, then Principal of Tarrant High. “Tell him Reverend Nelson sent you”. That simple message, along with her qualifications secured her a job at Tarrant where she taught English, Spanish and Mathematics. Before the age of 30, Mrs Eves-McKenzie was a senior teacher at the institution. When she completed her bachelor’s degree, an offer from English Department materialized.
While delighted at the offer, Mrs Eves-McKenzie declined due to an invitation to apply for the Vice-Principal vacancy at a newly formed school. Following nine years of service at Tarrant High, she became the 1st Vice-Principal at Edith Dalton Secondary High. After a seven years tenure in 1984, she took a 10-year hiatus from teaching for other pursuits.
Her Natural Truth
Her love for teaching never wavered during the time she was away from the classroom. She continued to provide support for children in different subject areas. Today, she beams with pride of her esteemed career in education; however, she acknowledges that things could have easily turned out differently.
In her mind, she had no desire to return the classroom. Be that as it may, the Principal’s role at a private high school became a reality. She intended to decline the offer, but that never happened after strong encouragement by Albert Karram, a leader in her church, who convinced her to accept the position. After an emotional discussion, she eventually returned to the field in January 1994 as principal of Dunrobin High School.
While completing her three years term as principal, she pursued a master’s degree in Counselling Psychology. In February 1998, a mere two months after leaving Dunrobin, Mrs Eves-McKenzie commenced lecturing at UTECH. She taught subjects about Counselling Psychology and continued as a part-time lecturer until October 2001. She also joined the University’s Counselling Centre staff as a counsellor.
UTECH and Retirement
Being a counsellor at the UTECH “was the perfect opportunity to serve where people needed help most.” As a senior counsellor at UTECH, Mrs Eves-McKenzie provided leadership and strategic development. This enabled the counselling team and staff to offer quality service to all categories of staff and students. Below, Mrs Eves-McKenzie describes some of her duties:
There is no doubt that the now-retired Mrs Eves-McKenzie has made a lasting impact in the education sector. After two years of retirement in 2016, she was the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for her services. The energetic and vivacious retired educator described retirement as a beautiful phase in her life. She uses the time to deposit in and enrich the lives of others through life-lessons. She also embraces keynote speaking moments as they allow her to pass on the legacy of her generation. Mrs Eves-McKenzie hopes that they will be able to use the knowledge she imparts to better and more skillfully navigate the growing challenges they face.
Catalyst for Change
Mrs Eves-McKenzie’s students consider her a catalyst for positive change. She lives her life intentionally and purposefully to be an example for those who take the time to learn. She never fails to share encouragement, warnings or possibilities to enlighten and encourage others to make full use of their time and calling. Mrs Eves-McKenzie has always gone the extra mile. It’s no surprise that her most memorable moment as an educator was watching how students’ lives transformed. Below, she shares an example:
Her love for learning and success is admirable. She uses every experience and encounter as a tool to motivate her. Every experience is an occasion for reflection and learning. In like manner, successes and failures are opportunities to learn, develop and improve. Listen to the audio below to hear lessons Mrs Eves-McKenzie learnt along the way:
There is a famous quote by Edith Piaf which reads “when you’ve reached the top, send the elevator back down for the others”. Patricia encourages us to live by this philosophy. “Whatever you learn, pass it on to others so their lives can be better”. The nuggets of wisdom that I received throughout our ‘reasoning’ are priceless. Mrs Eves-McKenzie reminds us that it is never too late to achieve goals: