University recognises local educators for their service
A 97-year-old woman who taught for almost 40 years will become one of the first Bermudians to receive an honorary doctorate of education from a Seventh-day Adventist university.
Edith van Lowe, who spent most of her career teaching at the Bermuda Institute, was one of two Bermudians nominated by North Caribbean University to be recognised for their outstanding contributions to education.
Ms Van Lowe told The Royal Gazette that she was “overwhelmed”, adding: “Apparently my efforts have been appreciated by someone.”
She said: “It’s been a long road, but I’ve enjoyed my career and I just have to thank the Lord for all of His blessings.”
North Caribbean University, a Seventh-day Adventist institution in Mandeville, Jamaica will award Ms Van Lowe her degree at a ceremony in Bermuda on Sunday at the Southampton Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Tom Oppenheim, the Deputy Governor, will be in attendance, as will Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education.
Ms Van Lowe, from Sandys, said that she had been interested in teaching since she was a little girl and joined the profession when she was in her twenties.
She said that she taught at Purvis Primary School in Warwick for about six years before moving to the Bermuda Institute and staying there for the rest of her career.
Ms Van Lowe said that, although she had seen different faculty throughout the decades, the children’s behaviour stayed the same.
“Children will be children,” Ms Van Lowe joked. “They have their little idiosyncrasies and their habits, their likes and dislikes.
“There’s never a dull moment when you’re teaching elementary children.”
She added: “There’s always something different and somebody’s always coming up with something.
“It’s just an interesting career.”
Ms Van Lowe admitted that there were moments when the job became stressful for her, but she said that she got through the worst of it through prayer.
She said: “The faculty at the Bermuda Institute started the day with devotion.
“If we had a little problem, we’d just pray about it and talk about it — it was that sort of thing that got us through.”
Ms Van Lowe added: “I’m grateful that I did stay because I have enjoyed it and it has been very rewarding through the years.”
Sheila Holder, a Bermudian member of North Caribbean University, said that the institution had made an effort to select islanders from outside Jamaica for the degree.
She added that they were impressed by Ms Van Lowe’s passion and connection to her community — even having taught Dr Holder when she was in fifth grade.
Dr Holder said: “She promoted education to all. She had students at her house over the weekend for tutoring.
“I think after seeing things like that they just thought she deserved it.”
North Caribbean University also selected Rosemary Tyrrell for an honorary doctorate.
Ms Tyrrell worked as teacher and principal in the public school system before travelling to Jamaica, where she started several neighbourhood bible schools.
She also worked within education administration in Britain and the United States for many years.
Ms Tyrrell returned to Bermuda and became the Permanent Secretary of Education before moving to the Attorney-General’s Chambers in 2007.
She flew out to Jamaica to receive her degree in person.
Dr Holder congratulated the two women and said that they were great representatives for the island.
She said: “Sometimes on this little small island we overlook educators unless they’re right out there in the public eye.
“I think a lot of educators have given loyalty over the years to students and invest a lot in them.
“But like cream, they rose to the top.”
The ceremony will take place at 8am on August 14.