Thirty-one employees of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, who are based in the western section of the island, were among the over 200 members awarded by the church during the celebration of the 'Year of the Adventist Worker 2017' held at the Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, under the theme 'Workers of Worth' (WOW) recently.
Among the western-based awardees was Berzella Howson-Stewart, the principal of the church-owned March Town SDA Kindergarten and Preparatory School in Hanover.
Howson-Stewart has been principal of the school for 25 years and was recognised for 42 years of service to the organisation.
“I was really excited and very impressed because I didn't know that they would pay any attention to my pre-train years of work,” said an elated Howson-Stewart, who started working with the church in 1974 at age 17, after leaving the Savanna-la-Mar High School in Westmoreland.
“Regardless of the ups and down, I enjoy working for the Lord, which makes it so easy and enjoyable because I look at it as my way of pleasing God. Whether or not they had given me an award it would not have taken away from my determination and effort to work for God due to the opportunities it gives me to witness for Him.”
Howson-Stewart, who came through the system of Adventist Christian Education, believes Christian education is important, especially at the early stages of a child's development.
“I think Christian education at this level is very crucial. It gives us as teachers the opportunity to mold children and help them understand critical issues. We use the Bible, and through the integration of Faith and learning, they can understand and see God through all the subjects that we teach.”
Asked what was the greatest moments in her life as an educator, she responded, “my wow moment was when the school was able to bring the building from a one-storied two classrooms to now a two-storied 'L shape' building with eight classrooms, a modern bathroom and a modern computer lab facility.”
Two hundred and seven workers from across the church's schools island-wide, university, health institution and facilities, publishing ministry, conferences and union headquarters were recognised and awarded for outstanding and long services ranging from 11 to 51 years as at December 2016.
The Adventist Church in Jamaica has approximately 1,500 workers serving in two institutions — the Andrews Memorial Hospital and the Northern Caribbean University — eight high schools, 19 preparatory schools and six regional headquarters.
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