The students and staff of Patrick J. Bethel High School cordially invited the community of Abaco to attend a Special Assembly in honour of Jamal McIntosh, Teacher of the Year for 2017-2019 on Nov. 30 on the school grounds.
“Celebrating a Man of Excellence” was the theme of the special occasion.
Moderators were Ivan Curry Jr. and Jackline Jean-Jacques. A stately, red- carpet entrance was made by McIntosh who was accompanied by his wife Christina, and son Ethan. Following the School Band’s playing of the National Anthem, Jordon Vilma delivered the opening prayer.
The moderators extended a warm welcome to all present before a selection conducted by Ms. Pauline Brice took place. Student Dikembe Wilkinson read the Scripture, while heart-warming poems of tribute were recited by students – Nikera Cartwright and Desmona Bootle.
The Drama Club led by Ms. Bethel participated in a skit with students seated in a classroom talking in great detail about the things McIntosh likes, and the kind of impact he has had on his students as an educator.
As the skit played out, the students discussed his favourite colour, favourite food, where he was first posted as an educator, his birthday, the number of musical instruments he plays, his favourite music artist and what his greatest wish in life would be.
“For his mother to see the impact he’s had on the students’ lives,” one student answered.
Indeed, descriptions of McIntosh being a leader, role model, music pioneer and hero abounded throughout the ceremony.
Thereafter, District Superintendent Dr. Lenora Black brought remarks. She commended the participants on their wonderful expression of appreciation to their Teacher of the Year as she recognized that McIntosh falls in the category of a great teacher because he has inspired his students.
“You are an excellent role model particularly for the male students,” Dr. Black expressed. “I’ve seen your strides in excellence since 2007, and I know you couldn’t do it without your wife and son and your parents. The spirit of your mother is here, and you’ve done an excellent job. This school is the beneficiary of your hard work.”
Principal Ricardo Ferguson also spoke briefly calling McIntosh a man of many talents. He recalled how McIntosh has weighed in on many of his decisions, and as a result, has made a difference in his life. As a friend and gym buddy to him, Ferguson said any parent would be proud of the man that McIntosh emulates.
Taliyah Pinder, a student, was given the priviledge to introduce Rev. Charles Carey as the guest speaker. Rev. Carey shared with the audience that he has been acquainted with McIntosh since his birth and while he attended Wesley College as a student.
Listing the extraordinary lineage that McIntosh enjoys on both sides of his family tree, Rev. Carey explained that McIntosh is related to the late Capt. Sherwin Archer and Capt. Beecher Archer on his mother’s side of the family, and among his father’s relatives, he is related to Patrick Bethel, Former Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham, as well as the late Sherlin Bootle.
He went on to congratulate McIntosh on behalf of his family, his Aldersgate Methodist Church family and his Wesley College school family. Drawing similar qualities from Nelson Mandela’s life, Rev. Carey concluded that McIntosh is an original and creative thinker as he took the school’s Junkanoo program nationwide; he is committed to his school and community despite higher-paying offers in the United States to teach; and he is a high achiever blazing a trail of excellence.
“Strong leadership begins with integrity, which begins within,” Rev. Carey admonished. “There’s also honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, generosity, absence of vanity and willingness to serve others. We celebrate you today.”
Twelfth grade student Nyshante Johnson performed in a powerfully, emotional liturgical dance to the gospel song “Better” by Jessica Reedy, and Jayden Cash performed an original rap in tribute to McIntosh.
A tribute to McIntosh’s dearly departed mother Belinda McIntosh was incorporated into the ceremony. Orange balloons were released in her memory by family members.
Soon McIntosh was presented with a horde of elaborate gifts that included a fruit basket; golf club, golf attire, and golf course certificate from the Abaco Club on Winding Bay; a photo of him playing his saxophone along with a glass saxophone attached to a plaque; a Land® luggage set; and a glass sculpture and painting of the school’s mascot: the marlin.
During his response, McIntosh was overwhelmed yet grateful for the show of appreciation on his behalf. He thanked God for blessing him with the abilities and talents he has. He also thanked the organizers and participants for the great celebration planned for him.
“I don’t take this honour lightly, and it is a great pleasure to serve you so far,” McIntosh said. “You all went to extreme lengths to provide such a display of love. Besides my family, you are the reason I get up each day, and I appreciate every one of you.”
McIntosh said without his family and friends there would be no Jamal McIntosh.
“I am blessed to have a giant of man as my role model for my entire my life: my father has set the path for where I am today. My mother is not here anymore, but she was my biggest cheerleader. She was there for everything I was involved in, and I thank my mother for all she put into me. I love you always mom, and you will always be right here as a part of me,” he vowed.
He ended his remarks by thanking his wife and son for being understanding in everything he does acknowledging that it is a blessing to have such a good support system at home.
Hanesha Russell gave the Vote of Thanks before the ceremony ended with a Junkanoo Rush Out.