IN JAMAICA: 30 years old, Coswell Barnett, Blind and Brilliant - Spanish Teacher Excels At Clan Carthy High School Despite Visual Impairment....PALAS Gold Star student, Javanney Campbell figured prominently
Corey Robinson, Staff Reporter Published: Sunday | January 11, 2015
At 30 years old, Coswell Barnett is as respected and revered by his students as much as any of his teaching colleagues at the Clan Carthy High School in St Andrew, and it is not just because he is blind...
Coswell Barnett (right) having fun with his young charges.
Somehow, Barnett, a Spanish teacher who makes his way from staffroom to classroom with the help of a cane, has found a way to connect with his students, to gain and maintain their interest even while not being able to see their faces.
And he does this while assisting them to distinctions in Spanish at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level, pushing them to 11 medals at annual Spanish festivals, and while helping to prepare the school's quiz team.
Javanney Campbell of Clan Carthy receives his PALAS package from veteran DJ UROY at PALAS event
As for the students, they show Barnett the respect he deserves because he deals with them like 'a real man'; he can identify each of them by name - with just one sentence they utter - his classes usually include the timeless high-school practice of desk drumming and singing, albeit in a foreign language, and maybe it's his story of perseverance against the odds.
"It's really about letting the students know that there is another way out in life apart from the negativity," Barnett told The Sunday Gleaner.
"Most of the students who I teach, and have taught, are from the inner-city communities. But I speak to them like 'a real man', a man from humble beginnings, and they are able to relate to me," said Barnett.
Proud students flank their teacher, Coswell Barnett, and display some of the certificates which he has helped them to achieve.
"Especially the females, I say to them, 'look, you don't want to leave school not achieving at least a formal education at this level and become pregnant'.
"Because that is the reality of the lives of many young girls today. And for the males, I tell them, 'you don't want to end up becoming a don', because that is the order of the day in their neck of the woods," said Barnett. more