By HELEN TARAWA
Teaching is a noble profession and those who follow this career path and remain committed and loyal to the end of their active service deserve to be commended.
Every year many teachers are retrenched without proper recognition after serving the Government for decades.
Only a few are privileged to be given a proper send-off and Wardstrip Primary School’s head teacher Emily Ricky was among those.
Last Friday the teachers, board members and a few National Capital District education officials gathered for a farewell event sponsored by Moresby North East MP and Housing Minister John Kaupa.
Ricky clocked 44 years of service this year having worked in NCD schools for the most part of her teaching career.
Originally from Hula in Central, her parents were United Church pastors so she attended primary school in Marshall Lagoon (Kelerakua) from 1962 to 1967 then from 1968 to 1971 she attended Kwikila High School in Rigo district.
Ricky took up teacher training at Port Moresby Teachers’ College formerly known as In-Service College for two years from 1972 to 1973.
Her first posting was to Hula Community School where she worked only for two years from 1974 to 1975.
The following year she got married to Manau from Babaka and in 1977 she took up her first posting in the National Capital District at Ororo Community School in June Valley.
She worked at Ororo from 1977 to 1983 then was promoted as a senior teacher to Eki Vaki Primary School in 1984 where she worked until 1996 when she was posted to Wardstrip.
She worked at Wardstrip from 1997 to 2000 and during the time when the education reform was introduced with the “top-up” of grades seven and eight at primary schools.
Ricky returned to Eki Vaki in 2001 and applied for the head teacher position. She worked there from 2002 to 2012. The school at that time was a Level 6 institution and Ricky brought it up to Level 7.
The NCD education appointment authority then gave her an acting appointment to Level 8 head teacher at Wardstrip where she worked from 2013 to her retirement.
Ricky who is now 63, had reached her retirement age and had to exit the teaching service this year.
“I never took furlough leave because I thought going away would mean I would lose that interest and zeal and returning I would start all over again which I did not want.”
She had six grown children (three women and three men) who are all married and she has 12 grandchildren.
She met her husband Manau, who was also a teacher, at Port Moresby In-service College. He worked in NCD schools as well until 2006 when he was retrenched.
“I love children and when they see me they like to embrace me and I do likewise, even my grandchildren,” Ricky says.
“When I was teaching I was a devoted person, my classroom was always up to date with teaching materials.
“One of the privileges of being a teacher is that your former students along the way never forget you.Wherever they met me, they always acknowledged me and it brought job satisfaction to me.
“There was a time when my former student from Chimbu whom I taught at Ororo Community School called out to me.
“I couldn’t remember who he was because he was now a grown man with his wife. He told me his name and reached out into his pocket (to give me something) and despite my refusal, he insisted that I keep it because it was his token of appreciation,” she said.
Ricky has won the hearts of many of her colleagues and students and this was evident when they bid her farewell in two separate events, one for students and another for teachers.
“I’m going to miss my colleagues and the students. I urge my fellow teachers to show commitment and dedication; come down to the level of the children, know them by name and face so they will understand you.
“Submit to whoever the new authority that will be appointed next year, give him or her best as you did to me,” she urged the eachers.
“Take teaching as a noble profession because Christ himself was a teacher and to the students, listening is very important,” Ricky said.
Her husband Manau said: “Behind a successful woman is a supportive husband.
“We have been married for 41 years and today (Friday) is her last day.
“I thank the board and management and teachers for all your support and to the teachers and staff, please work along well with the new head teacher,” he said.
Minister Kaupa acknowledged Ricky for her commitment and loyalty.
“Education is the backbone of this country to produce human resources and manpower to give more knowledge to our future generations.
“Your commitment and dedication during those many years have paid off with the changes that have taken place.
“We have high technology now compared to those early days when it was challenging but you remained loyal to your duties.
“Now after 44 years, you have to go out and enjoy the next chapter of your life.
“I also acknowledge your husband and family for their support,” Kaupa said.
NCD Education director appointments and school coordination, Boge Homoka said, “Saying good bye is sad but it is also a time for celebration.
“Ricky started as a base level teacher and mad her way up the ranks of senior teacher, sectional head and to the top in the teaching force.
“She had shown potential in her administration, management and leadership role in providing learning to the children and mentoring the teachers.
“Today those children are working in private organisations and government departments so as teachers who have made their way up the ranks while others have taken other pathways into various sectors of government and private organisations.
“I salute Ricky for a job well done and I thank her husband Manau for his support.
“We at the NCD division of education did not want to let her go but she must take leave and go and settle down in the next part of her life,” Homoka said.
Board chairman Sylvanus Vaso said Ricky had performed her duties with diligence, respect, pride and a heart for teachers and the children.
“Ricky leaves a legacy and she has left some projects behind that we have to continue to implement.
A teachers’ representative thanked Ricky for a job well done adding that despite criticisms from the public, teachers continued to perform their humble teaching duties with love and commitment.
By HELEN TARAWA