Teacher Gem Moriah shares her recipe for success! By Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
July 6, 2003

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St. Margaret’s SSEE Teacher, Ms. Gem Moriah flanked by her appreciative former students who called on her to present her with a gift on hearing of her success.

SHE’s been a teacher for some 30 years - qualified, and rated as being ‘very good’. But when it comes to preparing students for crucial examinations like the SSEE, the challenge becomes even greater.

And so, when Ms. Gem Moriah, a teacher at St. Margaret’s Primary School, was called to assume responsibility for preparing students for the April 1999 sitting of that examination, she immediately realised that getting the best results was a challenging task. She knew she had to do it to the best of her ability, since the person she was now succeeding had set herself a good record.

Very confidently, she set to work, giving it her very best shot, but what she did not know was that within a few short months, her efforts would yield her the record-breaking success she achieved.

That year, St. Margaret’s secured 35 positions in the top 100. In addition, the child having scored the second highest marks nationally - Patula Clarke, was from her class.

Eternally grateful, and buoyed by that kind of inspiration, Ms Moriah continued to put her best foot forward, reaping the fruits of her labour.

And last week, when the SSEE results were released, her class had again performed with distinction. Her student, Catherina Gonsalves won the top position from among some 14,900 students who wrote the examination in April. Gonsalves scored 557 out of 564 marks. Additionally, the school secured seven of the top 10 positions and 24 in the top 100 nationally.

The admirable record of achievement scored by the school over the last few years is cause for celebration.

In interviews the Chronicle conducted with the children after the results were made public, the children thanked God, their teachers, their parents and others who constituted that ‘supportive environment’.

The Chronicle on Wednesday last managed to get an interview with the modest, but evidently elated veteran educator who has a Masters Degree in Education. She shared her recipe for success.

“The recipe has as its ingredients: a supportive staff of teachers who would give you ‘quality’ children to prepare for an examination; students who must, themselves, have a willingness to learn; and parents who are supportive and who will come on board to help prepare their children for the exam,” she said.

Noting that parents are “very important”, Ms Moriah stated with conviction: “You can never overlook the importance of parents in terms of their support.” She said that research has shown that parents impact a lot on their children’s performance.

Likewise, she noted: “Teachers too, in preparing children for the exam, should have in their repertoire, a great number of skills, so that they not only use ‘chalk and talk’ to teach, but rather, a variety of methods.

“Let children sing; let children get out into the yard and do things. They enjoy these activities, and they perform better than they would under normal circumstances,” she pointed out.

Ms. Moriah recalled what a successful approach it was, using the “cooperative teaching strategy” in her classroom.

“I found it to be extremely rewarding. The children enjoyed it, and they were able to develop their intellectual skills. In addition to that, they developed other skills,” she said with an air of confidence.

Explaining the cooperative teaching strategy, Ms. Moriah said that much can be achieved when the children work in groups of five, with each having roles. They help each other, revise with each other, and even mark each other’s work,” she said.

“The result is, they develop not only intellectual skills, but social and emotional skills as well, and I think that’s a large part of the recipe,” she said.

In a tangible show of appreciation, a group of fourth form students from Queen’s College who all passed the SSEE with ‘flying colours’ under Ms Moriah’s watch, last week presented her with a gift.

That gift, was among many others presented to Ms Moriah.