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A LEADER IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Icylin Morgan, Educator Extraordinaire


“I love to impart knowledge and interact with students,” says Icylin Morgan, a wife, mother, and educator. “It’s my mission. I want all my students to succeed.”


In a candid conversation with VBD Magazine, the educator extraordinaire discusses engaging reluctant learners, global citizenship education, and strategies to employ when adapting to the unexpected.


Icylin seems at ease, yet laser focused, in her beautiful, well-manicured backyard, where we sat. With effortless grace and an ever-ready smile, she responds to our questions. It was easy to see how her gentle, infectious allure, educational qualifications, and professional experience, combined with her student-centered approach, led to the status of esteemed educator and leader. Dive into our interview and get inspired! Above all, take action!


FANNING TO FLAME HER PASSION


Icylin grew up in Jamaica, West Indies. “I was born into a family of humble beginnings that fostered love, respect, honesty, hard work, caring, dedication, and a willingness to help one another.” She is the first of eleven children. “My parents taught us to put God first. I was constantly reminded to be a role model for my siblings. With that in mind, I set my goals—build my relationship with the Lord, manage my family life, and pursue my educational goals.”


Icylin chuckled when we asked what inspired her to become an educator. “My passion was to be in health care, to be a pediatric nurse. However, my journey into teaching began when I became a teaching assistant and developed a bond with students of all ages. I saw teaching as a way for me to help students maximize their potential and accomplish their dreams.”


After working as a teaching assistant for two years, Icylin attended Church Teachers’ College, Mandeville, Jamaica, where she obtained a Certificate in Primary Education and subsequently, a Diploma in Primary Education. Meeting the monetary obligations for her education was tough. “There were many financial challenges along the way.”


In the latter years, Icylin gained a Diploma in School Management and Administration (Mico University College), a Bachelor of Science in Education degree (Western Carolina University), and a Master of Education degree (Florida A&M University).


THE MARK OF A LEADER


After graduating from Church Teachers’ College, Icylin got married to George and they have been married for forty-six years. While it was a difficult task to balance home, work, and community life, Icylin still managed to make her mark in all these areas. “I work extremely hard to achieve my goals. I love to teach and mentor so I pray for health and strength daily. Some days were long and hard, but my achievements compensated for that.”


Climbing the ladder of success in the education system, Icylin went from teacher to senior teacher, then master teacher, next guidance counsellor, and finally principal. Today, Icylin is a highly trained and accomplished educator with forty plus years of progressive experience and accomplishments as an administrator and teacher in elementary and middle school levels of education. She possesses strong behavioral management skills and extensive experience in modifying teaching strategies and assessment methods to support and nurture students’ accomplishments.


MENTORING AND MAKING A DIFFERENCE


“Education is one of the keys to success, so I try to engrain this in my children and siblings.” It came as no surprise when Icylin added, “I consider myself a lifelong learner. I have a mindset that is constantly pushing to find out what’s new so that I can hone my expertise.”


Along with three biological children, Icylin parented six others from her extended family. “They all have made me proud. Two are medical doctors and the others have master’s degrees in different areas.”


Icylin also serves in the role of mentor in her workplace, church, and community. “Mentoring is important. Many leaders have credited their success in part to their mentors. There is nothing like having someone in your life who can offer good guidance and empower you to make excellent decisions.”


GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION


What about teaching 21st-century learners to become global citizens? “That we must do. We are one global community and that should be communicated to students. Our actions not only affect people locally and nationally, but also internationally.”


Here are Icylin’s tips for teaching global citizenship education:

  • Teach students the importance of experiencing other cultures and celebrating diversity.

  • Include global stories in the curriculum and have discussions on worldwide events.

  • Create sessions for one-on-one communication with individuals from other cultures.

  • Arrange trips to other countries and organize an international week.


ENGAGING RELUCTANT LEARNERS


At times, teachers struggle with engaging reluctant learners. Check out Icylin’s suggestions to overcome this:

  • Find a point of interest and engage the student from that perspective.

  • Ask the student to help manage a class project.

  • Send positive notes about students to their parents/guardians.

  • Build productive relationships with parents/guardians that fosters partnerships in their children’s education.

ADAPTING TO THE UNEXPECTED


“My philosophy is that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. That gives me the inherent motivation to stand firm in difficult times.”


Here are Icylin’s top steps to dealing with tough situations.

  • Start by praying. Always put God first in whatever you do.

  • Remind yourself of how far you’ve come, and of all the obstacles and challenges that are behind you.

  • Discuss the situation with a trusted family member, friend, relative, or pastor.

  • Create an action plan to deal with the issue.

  • Stay confident and stay away from fear and procrastination.

  • Maintain your focus no matter what.

PAYING IT FORWARD


Leaders like Icylin are catalysts for change. She is a change agent for education, demonstrating a participative and supportive leadership style in administration of school policies, procedures, and activities. “Any day that I’m teaching and mentoring is a great day. I consider myself blessed and I’m grateful for all the opportunities that I have received. It’s my job to pay it forward and give everyone a chance to succeed.” In our education system, Icylin is leaving a mark that cannot be erased.


Photo Credit: ShaunBattickPhotography

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