What people say
I am very fortunate to have great, unselfish friends. After I completed GCE/CXC exams and as I waiting for the results, my friend Mavis Tombie came one day to ask if I would like to go to New Amsterdam and take the NATI entrance examination. Having nothing better to do, I decided to go with her. I was successful at the examination and was offered a place in the Secretarial Sciences program. There were many excellent teachers at the school and we were blessed to have Mr. Kenneth Quintyn as our Math teacher. I say `blessed` because without his patience and help I certainly would have failed miserably. The lessons I learned about presentation from Ms. Claire Thomas, my typing and shorthand teacher are things that are still a part of how I do my work today. I must also mention Ms. Lois Johnson who encouraged some of the girls from our group to challenge ourselves and take on the London Chamber of Commerce (LCC) accounting exams. I completed my two year course at NATI in 1982 and worked in the Personnel Department of the Mayor & City Council of Georgetown while I continued attending classes and taking the LCC exams to improve my knowledge and enhance my employability. When I migrated to Canada the skills I learned at NATI were good enough to help me find a job very easily. I also attended the University of Toronto and completed my Canadian Insurance Professional (CIP) designation through the Insurance Institute of Ontario. I worked for several years as Finance Leader and I am currently the Manager of Business Analytics at one of Canada's top three Insurance Companies. I have now worked with my current employer for 16 years and my advice to students is to practice continual learning - make learning a life-long practice. In this job I get the opportunity to utilise my analytical and presentation skills and my skill with numbers, all of the things I learned at NATI all those many years ago. Thank God for my friend Mavis and NATI!
Coleen hails from Tempie, West Coast Berbice, where she attended #29 School which provided an extended education from the primary level through to the Fourth Form secondary level. She graduated in 1975. Steering away from the suggested path of a career as a Home Economics teacher, she took Sewing lessons as a private student from 1975-76, then entered New Amsterdam Technical Institute's Secretarial Science program. None of these career paths appealed to her.
She may be regarded as a pioneer in finally seeking out a non-traditional career in AgriMechanics, the only female in the two-year program, graduating in 1978. She was hired by GuyMine at Linden in the Mackenzie District only to find that gender discrimination prevented her from working as a Mechanic. She worked as a clerk in the Tool Shop which position included washing machine parts. Disappointed in the lack of appropriate work opportunity, she was forced to refashion her career plans after a mere five months at GuyMine.
Returning home to Tempie and learning about job opportunities for Drafting Teachers, she immediately enrolled in a crash course in Technical Drawing in the Industrial Arts Dept.'s Adult Education program offered by the Ministry of Education at her Alma Mater #29 School. She was then able to teach this subject at Belladrum Community High School,which catered to students with Learning Disabilities and Late Developers, from 1979-1984.
Ever in search of new skills, she gained a Certificate in Youth Work, offered under the auspices of the Commonwealth Youth Program at the the University of Guyana, travelling Friday evening from Berbice to Georgetown for a full slate of classes on the weekend, over the two-year period, 1979-1981.
She moved residence to the East Bank, Georgetown in 1984. Teaching part-time in Agricola, she fitted in attendance at the In-Service Training Program, Teachers' Training College, Turkeyen Campus, Georgetown, from 1984-1986 and gained her professional teacher's qualification. Her last upgrading was in Remedial Education, a crash course again at the Teachers' Training College, where she was the youngest participant in the group.
In 1986-87, she continued to teach Drawing, Woodworking, and Metal Work. She was promoted to the post of Acting Senior Mistress for the Remedial Education Division for a short while at Belladrum Community High School. Her stellar ascent in this highly specialised area of Education was capped with her appointment as the Head of the Industrial Arts Department at Bygaval Multilateral School, Mahaica, 1992 to 1995.
Immigration to Canada mirrored the experience of so many foreign-trained professionals in obtaining parallel appointments in their area of expertise. For a few years, she made do with survival jobs, finally working part-time at Hudson's Bay, 1997-2008.
Coleen's life took a turn in an unexpected direction after she was rendered disabled for employment by an unfortunate accident. Despite her daily pain, she lives to serve others, volunteering at her local Anglican Church's March Break Camps and Sunday School. She assists youth in an after-school Public Speaking class (AFPY), and in a Home-Work club.
By any standards, Coleen stands out as a pioneer in her choice of vocational training and her capacity to persevere into new areas of study, all the while increasing her professional capacity in every field of her endeavour. She makes Guyanese women proud.
Howard can be described as a man of many parts. His voracious reading habits and inquisitive mind from an early age gave him a firm grounding in the Sciences, Literature, Technology, Politics, Economics and Biographies of famous people. It is not surprising therefore to know that he had a varied and challenging career from Guyana to Canada twinned with involvement in Community Youth Activities.
He was one of seven and hailed from Stanleytown, Berbice. He attended Berbice Educational Institute, graduating in 1970. From 1970-1974, he prepared Secondary students at Cumberland Anglican and Transfiguration Lutheran School for the College of Preceptors Exams in Maths, Science, History and Literature. Even more noteworthy was his involvement in the Lutheran League for Youth, organizing debates and sports activities and eventually becoming the Vice President of the Guyana Youth Council. He also aligned himself as an activist in the Youth Social Movement and the People’s Youth Organisation, a youth arm of the PNC/PPP.
His ambition was to be a businessman. He chose the field of Accounting when he enrolled in Seneca College, Toronto in 1974. However, he quickly realized that this field of work was too narrow a focus for a person so vitally interested in a socially stimulating environment. He switched his major to Business Administration and was ready for work in 1977. Despite his success in gaining experience in a variety of jobs in various businesses, his ambitions and earning potential were not being met.
Ever flexible, he returned to his studies in 1979-1981, completing a course in CNC Programming at Humber College. These were the early days of Computer-aided Machine Tool Technology. In 1981, therefore, he had no difficulty securing challenging and stimulating employment for over twenty years with the US company, Litton Systems/Northrup Grumman, a large facility in Rexdale. Howard worked on laser guidance systems used on F1 Jet Fighters, Cruise Missiles, Battleships and Commercial Airlines. All his knowledge in the Sciences and Mathematics, in particular, Geometry and Chemistry, came into play. As he tells it, angles had to be accurate to a millionth of an inch for the US Airforce fighter jets. These guidance systems were used during the first US invasion of Iraq with deadly precision. During his career there, he was promoted to the position of Supervisor of seventy persons, in charge of schedules, materials, and liaison with the Engineering Section in California.
After 9/11, the US Government moved the facility to Woodland Hills, California for security reasons, the Canadian subsidiary eventually closing in 2003. Howard, disillusioned by the use of these war machines during the Iraq War, opted not to accept the offer to relocate, preferring to have his family anchored in Toronto. An offer made by Howard and some co-investors to buy the equipment for commercial uses was refused. [The company was prepared to sell the same equipment for a penny on the dollar value.] Nonetheless, he enjoyed a two-year sabbatical and spent time travelling, the bonus of those years at Litton Systems.
New employment opportunities followed in Apotex Inc., in 2005, using all his past grounding in Mechanics and Chemistry in the manufacture of no-name generic capsules and tablets. It was challenging work, requiring precision in the use of very delicate equipment. Unfortunately, this new environment working with extremely dangerous chemicals posed health risks, forcing an early retirement from the job after five years. Howard is now completing his work career at Canada Post.
Born in Itaka, Mackenzie, Leroy grew up in Agricola Village on the East Bank, Demerara. He attended primary and secondary schools under legendary principals A.B.C. Fenty and Randolph Cheeks respectively.
Despite straitened family circumstances which cut short his school enrolment at 15, he displayed early on a capacity for self-reliance by working and paying for private lessons to complete his academic education. He was then able to pursue technical training in Preliminary Craft and Machine Fitting at the Government Technical Institute in Georgetown. Wise guidance from Lecturer Ferdinand pointed him to employment possibilities as a welder. As a result, he completed both the Ordinary and Advanced City & Guilds exams in Welding in two years. He obtained work experience at Banks Brewery in Applied Construction, Machining and Welding and at the Ministry of Works and Hydraulics in Kingston, in Fabrication and Welding. He became a qualified Welder in 1967.
From 1967-1971, he taught Fabrication and Welding at his alma mater, the Government Technical Institute and the Guyana Industrial Training Centre, a U.S. College.
He was a prime candidate to obtain a Canadian scholarship offered in 1971 to Guyanese tradespersons to gain Canadian-standard qualifications in their trades. Within a year, in 1972, he was qualified as a Welding Specialist. A summer course in Moncton, New Brunswick added a Teaching Diploma in Technical Education to his resume.
He returned to Guyana to fulfil his scholarship obligations, teaching Welding and Fabrication at the Canadian founded New Amsterdam Technical Institute from 1972-1980. On weekends, Leroy aided in the rehabilitation of prisoners and the development of women PNC members teaching Fabrication and Welding for bicycle manufacture.
Like many fellow Guyanese, immigration into Canada and work opportunity were facilitated by their excellent training and experience. Leroy handily secured employment at ATCO in Calgary, Alberta, doing Layout for equipment used in the Oil Industry. This was a key trade job providing the blueprint for follow-up work by fabricators and welders. He worked there from 1980-1986.
News of his father’s death meant a trip home to Guyana. On his return to Calgary, he found himself unemployed after one day back due to a downturn in the oil industry. He was forced to relocate to Bowmanville, Ontario, where he started work at Solenia Steel, a large but unreliable employer. He was laid off one day before his three-month probationary period ended, (a customary practice of the company), putting him back on the unemployment rolls.
In 1987, however, he secured stable employment at the Harbour Commission in Toronto, Ontario, in Fabrication and Welding for the new docks being constructed at the lakefront. In 1994, he was employed as a Maintenance Technician for the Toronto Island Airport. His work involved runway and hangar maintenance including lighting, and night shift administrative work involving Dispatch of the Air Ambulance and phone call reports. For both positions, Leroy was successful in obtaining an Interprovincial Licence in his trade as well as an Aeronautical Licence and D Licence required for work at the airport.
After a career of diligent study, steady employment in his trade, and adaptability to changing circumstances, Leroy chose early retirement in 1994, the good fortune, a result of his earning capacity and pension benefits. He was now able to enjoy travel and family life with his daughter and wife.
Ron (as he is fondly known), is proof positive that a rolling stone does gather moss. His life was propelled by his ambition to master his trade, as an employee, entrepreneur and teacher, and to increase his knowledge in other areas. Ron received his early education at Dolphin Government School, Georgetown. In 1960, he began his Auto Mechanics Apprenticeship training with the Public Works Department in the Potaro District, Essequibo. In 1961, he enrolled at the Government Technical Institute in Georgetown to study for his City & Guilds Trade Qualification in Auto Mechanics but was soon on his way to London, England in 1962, where he commenced working for Mann and Overton London Taxi Cab as an apprentice Auto Mechanic. He then moved on to work for the Royal Post Office as a Mechanic while attending night classes at Wandsworth Technical College and Brixton Day College. Ron became a Master Mechanic in 1965, continuing his employment at the RPO for another three years. In 1968 he immigrated to Canada with his family and within a year had obtained the equivalent Canadian certification by becoming a Class “A” Licensed Mechanic. From 1970-1977 he worked at Firestone but entrepreneurial aspirations saw him operating his own business, “Speedy Auto Garage” in Hamilton, from 1977 to 1980. Ever on the move, he left for New York where he worked as a Field Technician servicing industrial fork lift trucks for Vogels Inc. in NYC, NJ and Connecticut. By 1982, he was back in Canada and after a brief stint at Wajax and Eaton Yale and Towne, again servicing industrial trucks, he opened up his second business, “Elite Lift Truck Service Inc.”, selling, renting, servicing and leasing fork lift trucks. In addition, he attended Sheridan College taking a Business course, Centennial College taking several courses in various programs and securing his Propane Licence. His next dream was to become a technical teacher and with this in mind, he enrolled at the Teachers’ Training College, University of Toronto in 1991, graduating in 1992. He obtained a teaching position in Transportation Technology at St. Thomas Aquinas S.S within the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board in Brampton, Ontario. Even so he continued to advance his academic qualifications, studying Humanities at York University, graduating as an Honours Specialist in Auto Mechanics from Brock University and as a Specialist in Religious Education from the University of Toronto. He was appointed Head of the Technological Studies Education Department at his school in 1997, which position he still holds today. An avid sportsman, Ron participated in many sports but Boxing and Soccer were his favorites. Ron has been a Free Mason for more than thirty years, ascending the ranks from an Entered Apprentice to the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the MWPHGL F&AM Province of Ontario and Jurisdiction. He is now a MW Past Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Ontario. In September he was appointed as the Grand Representative to the Grand Lodge of Canada AF and AM in the Province of Ontario. Ron remains a stellar representative of a life fulfilled in spirit, mind, body and service to others.
2015 marked the culmination of a long and satisfying career as a teacher and lecturer in various aspects and levels of technology education when I was honored by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association for 25 years of service in education. After high school graduation in Georgetown, I held various teaching positions in elementary schools for six years before formalizing my training as a teacher through programs offered at the Teachers' Training College in Georgetown. Training combined both academic and technical studies including Home Economics. My first appointment as a trained teacher was at Vryheid's Lust Secondary School. After two years of experience, I was fortunate to obtain a CIDA scholarship to study at George Brown College in Toronto in the area of Architectural Technology. To this training, I added subsequent studies in Educational Management and Curriculum Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. In October 1974, I was awarded the Ontario Teacher's Certificate with Honors, equipping me to teach Technology and Religion at the high school level. In addition, I gained a special Diploma in Education for Vocational Studies when I attended the New Brunswick Institute of Technology. As a fully licensed teacher in Technology subjects, I returned to Guyana to give back five years of service as a Lecturer 2 in Building and Maths for the Trades and Business Studies at the New Amsterdam Technical Institute. Later I became a Senior Lecturer, adding the area of Administration Studies to my portfolio of responsibilities. Part-time lecturing at the New Amsterdam In-Service Teacher Training Program as well as the Emergency Teacher Training Program expanded my training capacity in the field of adult education. Further advancement came when I took up a contract in 1981 at the College of the Bahamas at the time of its inception under Dr. Jacob Bynoe who was tasked with the establishment of that college by the European Union. I lectured in the Faculty of Technology (Architecture) and had additional responsibility as the Co-ordinator of the College's Preparatory Program. Emigration to Canada in 1994 marked the first stumble in what had been an unbroken, upward advancement in my career since high school graduation. I experienced all the setbacks that new immigrants are challenged by. Retraining in the field of Insurance failed to offer the return or opportunity for advancement that had marked my previous career. The turning point came in 1999 when a door was opened through the good graces of Ron Kelman, a fellow NATIAA member, who was the Head of the Technology Division at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board. Despite a few ongoing hurdles to be overcome, not least of all, a reluctance to recognise my qualifications as a teacher, I was finally granted permission from the Ontario College of Teachers to teach in my field of specialization. It's to be noted that I complemented my classroom teaching with coaching in tennis and cricket, providing a role model in the necessity of both play and work as I had done previously in Guyana. Young NATI graduates enter a very competitive world with unexpected challenges for continuous learning. It is imperative to be inspired with enthusiasm for your calling or vocation but as well, thoroughly understand the path forward to its achievement. “Look before your leap”. I consider myself, despite a few setbacks, to have become a winner and thank my parents' for their advice to “never be a loser”. At all times, make it your goal to be the best at what you do.