By Lakhram Bhagirat
As cliché as one would say it is, Ron Ryan Ghanie or Sir Ron, as he is known to many, never wanted to become a teacher, but now he cannot see himself anywhere except in front of a classroom.
The 39-year-old teacher from the Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region had his eyes set on becoming an accountant since he had fallen in love with the subject Principles of Accounts while he was a student. It was there he started shaping himself to join the world of accounting when he finished school, but life had other plans for him.
Ghanie, a Bartica native, recently completed 20 years in the teaching system and has been actively shaping the minds of the children in the township all of his professional life and more than half of his life.
Growing up in Bartica in the 80s and 90s was all about the simple life. He comes from a family that was all about supporting each other. His parents always ensured that he and his siblings were respectful to others and to date, they still hold those values dear. It is those values that continue to guide him in his professional life.
Life was not without its challenges, but Ghanie played the hand dealt and learned from experiences. His early childhood and primary school days were good times. He cannot remember ever having a bad experience during those days and, even if he did, the good ones overshadowed that. In school, he was considered the model student because he worked hard, followed the rules and was always respectful.
Though according to him, he was never the brightest in the class, his hard work and determination fuelled the drive to excel. He secured a spot at the Bartica Secondary School – the top school in the Region at the time – when he sat the Secondary School Entrance Examination (SSEE).
High school was a whole new ball game for him. It had its own set of challenges but he conquered.
“I struggled, needless to say, but I overcame whatever came my way. I remained steadfast in the pursuit of my academics. I wanted to make something of my life, and I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. I was disciplined and self-motivated. I had this quote in my head ‘to break the cycle of poverty, start by taking in your education’ and I don’t quite remember where I had read that or who said that to me but it just stuck,” he said.
He started to think about a career when he entered his third year of secondary school and while there were many choices, teaching was never one. He was introduced to Principles of Accounts in Fourth Form and it was from there he decided that accounting was for him. He worked the hardest in his class to ensure that his decided career path would be realised.
He exited the school system in 1997 at the age of 16 with 6 CXC passes in hand and among them was POA. The world of work was awaiting his entrance but he also wanted to pursue additional studies which were out of the question at the time. He weighed the options and decided to put his dream career on hold for the while and like many of his classmates, he applied for a post as a teacher.
“Having applied for a teaching position I was invited to attend an interview. I was excited and nervous on the day of the interview, having read all the literature (from books) on interviews; remembering things I read in the newspapers on current affairs; the names of the Ministers of Government and regional officers. I was prepared for whatever they (the interview panel) may ask of me.
Well, so I thought. It was my turn and I walked into the room; waited until I was asked to take a seat. My heart was in my throat when one of the panellists asked me why I wanted to become a teacher. Being the honest person that I am, I said ‘I applied to become a teacher because there are no other jobs available.’ Needless to say, I didn’t get the job because the cliché answers they were waiting to hear didn’t come from me,” Ghanie recounted.
However, three years after that interview – and after he took up a post at a stationery shop – the Regional Education Officer at the time requested a meeting with him. There, he was offered a job as a teacher but he was hesitant since he still had dreams of becoming an accountant.
He was encouraged to give it a try and on October 17, 2000, he stepped into his first classroom at St Anthony’s Primary – his old school – and started a journey filled with highs and lows but one he does not intend to leave behind.
“I remember thinking, standing in front of the class, what am I getting myself into here. All eyes were on me. I was super afraid. It was then that I realised that I had the future in my hands. The young minds of tomorrow I get to help shape and mould and I wasn’t going to mess that up. Here was my opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others,” he said.
Ghanie is now a Class One Grade One Secondary Science Trained Teacher. Over the years, he has taught at St Anthony’s Primary, Bartica Secondary School and now the Three Miles Secondary School where he holds the position of Senior Master. He teaches POA, Chemistry, Biology and Integrated Science.
“I must say though that from 2000 to now teaching and learning have changed so much. It a bit tougher now than then, but I try always to stay above things. I keep advancing myself to keep up, especially in the areas of technology as I am a technological migrant and not a native. The years after that flew by so quickly. There were so many mentors along the way and to whom I will always be grateful to, for their encouragement and support along my 20-year journey. There were tough times and times when I wanted to quit but all those experiences added to my character and my disposition.”
“Teaching grew on me and I fell in love with a career that I didn’t see myself being a part after that first interview. Sometimes I think what my life would have been like if I had the opportunity of becoming an accountant. I don’t see myself doing anything other than teaching though. It’s what I was made into – a teacher. I still have a few years left in this profession before that chapter closes off on me and I intend to make the most of it…to inspire my students to become all that they can be. I’m an advocate for education and I will continue to push my students into that direction for an educated nation is a rich nation.”