“Teaching for me means breaking barriers, lifting standards and defying the odds” – Rashlie Joseph

Teachers have the uncanny ability to impact our lives and the lessons they teach us remain with us forever. They paint our minds and encourage us to think outside of the proverbial box. They cheer us on from the sidelines. Our achievements are theirs and our burdens become theirs.
They act as mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends. They go above and beyond the call of their duties to ensure that we are the best versions of ourselves. They encourage us to break the barriers and hold ourselves to higher standards. Teachers are truly an inspiration and the lessons in the classrooms remain etched in our minds forever.
The fact that they work even when they are at home and on vacation makes teachers even more specials and in order for one to become a teacher, they must love the profession.
Nothing speaks for a profession like being in it for almost two decades and making countless sacrifices. For 18 years now, Rashlie Joseph has been sacrificing, inspiring and nurturing the thousands of students who passed through his classes.
The 36-year-old is a social studies teacher at the North Ruimveldt Multilateral School in Georgetown. Rashlie has always had a passion for teaching mainly because of the teachers in his life. He saw them as an inspiration and wanted to give back and make an impact as they did in his life.
“My passion for teaching developed during my senior years at secondary school. I was extremely fond of children and the many ways I can contribute to life and happiness. Added to that I was always thinking about how I can correct the errors I’ve seen and faced during my school life. I wanted to treat children better than I was treated and carry on the legacy of greatness I experienced having dealt with some teachers who were very good to me,” he noted.
“I somewhat started practising to be a teacher through the roles and duties that were given to me as a head prefect for the Grade Seven students at the time and with my fun, down to earth personality, I felt confident that I had the basic qualities and attribute to fit the profession, create excitement and enjoy a successful career.”
In his earlier days, Rashlie grew up with his grandmother, whom he described as his first teacher. She encouraged him to follow his dreams and always ensured that he had the resources to accomplish all he set out for.
He attended the Tucville Primary School and after he sat the Common Entrance exams, he gained a place at the East Ruimveldt Secondary School. However, at that time, his grandmother was leaving the country for a short time so he moved to Linden where he attended the Christianburg Secondary School. When his grandmother returned home, he moved back to Georgetown and completed his secondary education at the school he now teaches at.
When he wrote the Caribbean Examinations Council exams, he immediately knew that teaching was the path he wanted to take. He would have applied to the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) and got rejected four times but on his fifth try, he was successful.
Additionally, Rashlie completed a certificate in Early Childhood Education at the University of Guyana’s Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE) in addition to receiving education in the arts at the Burrowes School of Arts.
“After being turned down three times in my attempt to attend the teachers training college (CPCE), I decided in the meantime to complete a diploma for Teachers and Trainers from Cambridge University. I made a fifth attempt to enter CPCE and was successful. There, I completed that which is now called the Associate Degree in Education Programme, with my major in social studies.
“As it relates to the subject area I now teach, it was my experiences in those classroom sessions that had a massive influence. I was allowed to express myself and be involved in several debates and public speaking competitions and be as vocal as I can.”
In the classroom, Rashlie is quite the charismatic teacher. He not only brings the books but his experiences and personality as well. He speaks to his students in a language they understand, which sets him apart from the rest of the teachers.
When asked to pick out one memory that still stands out to him, the search was long and hard. In the past 18 years, he has been making countless memories so to pinpoint one is indeed a tough task. But he searched and came up with one.
“I would recall my first opportunity to prepare students for CSEC examinations. I had to exercise bravery and confidence, given that this was not an exam to play with, one which rates the school and prepares students for their lifelong career paths. I was nervous, scared but determined to get it right. My class excelled and ranked among the top performers for that year. With such results, my self-esteem took flight and I believed in myself a bit more,” he recalled.
The road to where he is now has been long and challenging, but that did not deter him. Rashlie advises anyone who is contemplating joining the teaching profession to be prepared to exercise compassion, show love and care, and fight for justice when necessary, all in support of our children.
“Being a teacher, for me, means quite a lot. It means creating a new and better world with one heart, mind and soul at a time. It means moulding a generation to become greater than the previous. It means creating a happy environment away from home for our children and in many cases a happy home away from a home where life is filled with misery, pain, abuse, and depression. Teaching, for me, also means breaking barriers, lifting standards and defying the odds when negativity presents itself. Whether in the form of people, misconceptions, biases, lack of support or setbacks.”