By Kevin Jeanville, teacher
My first encounter with Wayne Pitt, was in the early 80s, when I was a pupil at Mon Repos RC School. The towering, pencil-slim figure, seemed like a giant before us, as he was introduced as a new teacher to the school.
His unmistakably deep voice bellowed throughout the upper floor. The giant of a man became one of the most beloved teachers of that era and later a loyal and trusted friend.
Wayne has dedicated 40 years of his life to Catholic education. He has touched the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands of persons across our country. Everyone who has ever had a chance to meet him, cannot ignore his baritone voice, his boisterous laughter, and his booming personality.
As he celebrates his 60th birthday and retirement from the education system, I thought it wise for Wayne to share some insight about himself.
Who is your hero/heroine?
I love Jesus, but Our Lady of Good Success has never failed me, and she always intercedes for me, just as she did at the Wedding Feast at Cana.
What motivates you to work hard?
The goals that I have set for myself and my students. I have always worked assiduously towards achieving those goals.
What do you love most about your career?
Seeing students who are less endowed academically, move from point Z straight to point A, and seeing those who have special skills and talents in Creative Arts, develop them further. I really love developing the child academically, creatively, spiritually, or in a nutshell, holistically.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
When I was in the Turks and Caicos, six out of 10 of my students placed in the top 10 in that country, after being told by two other foreign teachers that Trini teachers can’t teach. Incidentally, one of those students placed first in the island, in the GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) exams.
What did you want to be when you were small?
Always a teacher. At age seven, people thought I was crazy, as the leaves from the plants were my students and I had a ruler in my hand teaching them 1 + 1 = 2. Sometimes I believe teachers are born, not made. Yes, I know, that some educational psychologists would not agree with this statement, but this is my humble opinion.
If money were no object, what would you do all day?
Meditating on Mount Tibet, away from the troubles of this world.
If you could eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Pig-foot souse. They call me ‘Pork Mouth’.
Aside from necessities, what one thing you could not go a day without?
Coca-Cola. Yes, I know it is bad for me, but I really need help to get over it.
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have?
The power to cure diseases such as: Cancer, HIV/AIDS and this awful pandemic. Basically, the power to heal.
If you could go back in time to change one thing, what would it be?
Being at my mother’s side at the time of her death. She had gone abroad to the US on holiday for the first time, and she passed away there.
If you could share one meal with any four individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
My deceased mother, Pearl; my deceased aunt, Sheila Wiggins; my dear friend, Cynthia Lennon; and former US President, Barack Obama.
Is your glass half full or half empty?
At this time in my life, half full. There is still room for more blessings, grace, and mercy to fill my cup, from the God whom I serve.
What three items would you take with you on a deserted island?
The Bible, a warm blanket, and a solar-powered personal DVD player to watch karate (Kung Fu) movies.
What is your personal motto?
Be honest and true to oneself. Be fair to everyone (He considers himself, “a fighter for the underdog”).
Who inspired you to become a teacher?
I believe that I was led by the Holy Spirit, because I prayed for direction.
Do you feel a sense of fulfilment from your 40 years in Catholic education?
Yes, because I was able to evangelise hundreds of students about my Catholic faith. Lives have been shaped and I have seen children grow from strength to strength, having become reputable citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.
How has your faith shaped you?
To be the type of individual that I am— loving, kind, understanding and responsible. The faith that I acquired as a student of Mon Repos RC, my parish church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and my Catholic upbringing, have all shaped my faith.
What advice would you give to young persons seeking to enter the teaching profession?
Do not enter teaching for the sake of money, but for the love of the job. Think outside of the box and prepare the children to be well-rounded individuals. Be a teacher who will make a difference in the children’s lives.
Is there any issue that you would have seen in your 40 years of teaching, that should be changed now?
There is a burning issue in society about whether the SEA should stay or go. My take on this as an exam teacher for more than 30 years, is that it should be removed, simply because it brings undue stress upon stakeholders – child, parent, and teacher.
The replacement should be Continuous Assessment from Infants to Standard Five, properly moderated and monitored by the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders in education, for it to be successful.
At the end of each academic year, pupils should be assessed. Once students attain the required level of achievement, they would move on to the next level. When students reach Standard Five, there can be a scaled down test, where only the Standard Five syllabus is assessed.
Therefore, the volume of work would be reduced considerably, and the stress level unduly placed on stakeholders, would also be reduced.
Considering your response to the previous question, what are your views on the Concordat? Should it remain or be removed?
I believe that the Concordat, though a bone of contention or a bugbear for the lack of change in the SEA, should be revisited. The board schools should keep their religious identity, with respect to Catholic education, Hindu education, Muslim education, etc. Policy makers and the denominational boards should sit together in an effort to try to keep the religious identity alive, so that the faith can be passed on.
If removed, the faith-building exercises in the schools will be minimal or probably non-existent. Therefore, I believe in this regard, it should remain.
Thank you, Wayne, for leaving your footprints, all over our hearts. May God continue to bless you with good health, happiness, and peace. Happy retirement!