Who is Thonya Joseph?
I am a mother of a beautiful and loving daughter, an educator, a former collegiate and national athlete in track and field and volleyball, a student, a supportive friend, and a coach. Currently, I am pursuing a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. I have been an educator for ten years and truly love my job and the students that I interface with daily. I am a very driven, supportive, and purposely individual, who is always willing to engage in new experiences for personal and professional development. I love everything culturally related, fitness, watching and engaging in sport, and experiencing the beauty and wonders of Barbados.
What does your day-to-day entail?
My day usually starts with my form as I am a form teacher for a fifth year. I facilitate prayers and take some time to have some personal discussions with some of my children who may be experiencing challenges before I begin the school day. As a General Studies teacher with a concentration in Sociology and Social studies, I interface with over 100 students from the first form to sixth form daily. It can be challenging switching through different grade levels but it gives me the opportunity to make an impact throughout the entire school community. I am also involved in coaching at the school, so some evenings are dedicated to that particular activity.
Tell us your most memorable achievement to date.
One of the most memorable experiences for me must be the day my sixth form Sociology class surprised me at my final volleyball game at the Wildey Gymnasium with posters that highlighted some of the positive messages I have shared with them during our time together. It was most memorable because it reignited my passion for teaching and it truly expressed how important education is, as we as educators have the power to inspire young people and truly make a positive impact in their lives.
Any advice for our readers who are interested in working in your field?
Firstly, being an educator is more than a job, it is a passion. It doesn't start at 9 and end at 3. It requires patience, understanding, creativity, innovation, the ability to manage difficult students and troubling situations. If you intend to become an educator, know that you will not receive accolades or trophies for your effort but your effort will impact the development of Barbadian society every time you appear in a classroom. Your effort may be the only good thing in a child's life. Your effort could improve the socio-economic situation of a family. Becoming an educator is a huge responsibility, only enter into it if you are willing to accept that responsibility.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
When I returned to Barbados after studying abroad at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, I was sure that I wouldn't have any difficulty with employment. I wanted to get involved in guidance and counselling as my undergraduate degrees are in Social Work and Sociology. This dream however was shattered by many failed attempts to enter the system. I worked as a shop assistant and an administrative assistant for about two years before finally applying for a job as a teacher. My mom was the one who brought the application to my attention and said, "try this, you will be good at this", after receiving a very discouraging number of rejection letters. I interviewed for more than one teaching position that summer and was successful in each of them but I chose the position at Springer Memorial because I loved the culture of the school and I believed that I could make a positive impact there and I the rest is a decade of learning and growing as an educator. I always use this story to remind students that the journey doesn't always materialize in the way we would hope but that with effort and faith things eventually work out just how they are supposed to.