Meet my three women of 2011
Three names most readily come to the fore when Im askd to cite the most continually highly productive women of the year 2011, which is rapidly drawing to a close.
They are Paula Cox, Sheelagh Cooper and Constance Ridley Smith.
Paula, of course is the indomitable Premier of Bermuda. Sheelagh is the founder of The Coalition for the Protection of Children, which this year alone has served some 30,000 nutritious meals for 250 odd underpriveleged children through the Coalitions school beakfast programme.
Constance, or Connye (Connie) as shes better known, is Coordinator of Training and Professional Development for the Bermuda College; and among other thing is author of a series of books, including an audio book and soon to be published e-book. Shes an accomplished musician and organist at two churches, being the Southampton Seventh-day Adventist Church and Allen Temple AME Church, Somerset
Over and above the demands made on her at her regular college job, and by the churches that fuly occupy her weekends, Connye found time this year to volunteer to lead the colleges student music group that has made its own impact this past semester.
Considering that Paula is both Premier and Minister of Finance we can imagine that the demands ordinarily made on her have been enormous. They have been extended by the countless social, cultural, parliamentary and party caucus engagements she has beeen duty bound to undertake. And over and above there were the thousands of miles jaunting overseas on government business.
It was 20 years ago that Mrs Cooper founded the Coalition for the Protection of Children to tackle the issue of child abuse in Bermuda. And she through her charity, has worked, tirelessly and significantly, without pay, over the decades providing a wide range of prevention, intervention, treatment and after-care programmes and services to children and families. These have included a child abuse hot-line, financial assistance and conflict resolution.
Mrs Cooper said she gained an understanding of the connection between how people are treated during their childhood and the way they live their lives in adulthood, from her studies for an undergraduate degree in psychology from Queens University in Ontario and a masters degree in criminology from the University of Ottawa.
Another facet of Mrs Coopers busy schedule this year has been her concentration on The Centre for Community and Family Mediation that she founded and engages as a Division of the Coalition. It provides hundreds of couples every year with family mediation services. Also she was a founding member of the Christian Housing Ministry, Habitat for Humanity Bermuda; and she continued this year to be chairman of the Family Selection Committee for the organisation. In addition, she has been, as usual, involved in coordinating the 100 or more volunteers who contribute some 2,000 hours annually working for the Coalition for the Protection of Children.
Regarding Mrs Smith as one of the most significantly productive women in Bermuda during the year 2011, I took note of how her regular job as the Bermuda Colleges Coordinator of Training and Professional Development meshes so well with her interests outside the college. She explained: As Training Coordinator, she is responsible for looking at organisational issues and recommending a training solution, when possible, or some other intervention when it is not; and having the wisdom to know the difference. She also helps to coordinate the right professional development activities that will keep faculty and staff abreast of current trends and thereby, be better able to do their jobs.
The books she has written and her audio books especially, There is Nothing New Under the Sun, and Stories That Teach, are aimed at helping to make the general population more aware about current trends. The stories cover issues like self-esteem; family communication; coping with grief; and other topics that children in todays families may wrestle with. Children, like adults in the work place, bring the whole self to the classroom. The unresolved issues they face can creep into their productivity, level of engagement and their grades, she said.
Much of her time this year has been devoted to the production of e-versions of her books, due for circulation in 2012.
Connye holds a BSc in Music Education; a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Instructional Technology. She was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. It was while attending high school there that she met her future, Bermuda-born husband Larry Smith. He was a graduate of Saltus Grammar School and had gone to Tennessee to gain credits for his eventual admission to university there. They married and are parents of two daughters, Ashley, aged 27, and Amber, 24. Larry works at Tuckers Point Club.
This year Mrs Smith has published Volume 1 of her Stories That Teach, entitled Robyns Nest. It is named for an eight-year-old girl who had thumbed through stories she had written. She asked for a set and rather than produce 12 individual books I packaged six stories and discussion guides for Robyn and her mom, calling it Robyns Nest. Volume 2 will be called Club House.
Mrs Smith says she had used those stories with her own children during their family time. She also shared them with students that she taught at school. They were first self-published as small picture books. I would let students select from a stack of them and watch them lose themselves in the pictures and the stories.
The popular title was the A-Kids Activity Book for Children Who live with Asthma. It contained stories, puzzles, word searches, and an asthma-awareness song. It was endorsed by my own daughters paediatric allergist. I would give free copies to any child who had asthma so that they could learn about their condition. Word spread fairly quickly around the school; students would bring their friends to get a free copy of the book for kids who had asthma.
The Stories That Teach are about putting emphasis on positive goals on the front end of issues, being proactive, and reinforcing those positives to young people as they are growing and, perhaps, wrestling with difficulties and by giving them the tools to cope, we help them to develop life skills, giving them a bigger safety net.
In that respect, Mrs Smith pointed out, I have a team of young people in Bermuda who reviewed the compilations before printing. The Stories That Teach series received their stamp of approval. They will maintain an online presence to blog and dialog with young people about the book topics on a safe and monitored website. For more information they may email her at constancersmith[AT]gmail.com
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