Queen Cleopatra - St Aloysius Primary teacher wins first JTA Miss Kingston pageant
School was out of session, but teachers from schools in Kingston were out at work on Saturday night for the first staging of the Jamaica Teachers' Association's (JTA) Miss Kingston pageant. Six teachers competed for the title through various rounds, including a talent show, a swim-suit segment, a display of self-made evening gowns, and a question-and-answer section.
Cleopatra Wallace from St Aloysius Primary School was crowned the winner, and walked away with a cash prize of $50,000. Donna-Marie Burke and Latoya Stone, both from the Calabar Infant and Primary School, were second and third, winning $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.
Owen Speid, president of the JTA, told THE STAR that the pageant emerged from an idea that was initiated by the St Andrew chapter of the JTA.
"We thought that it was a very good thing because if we can get the teachers to express themselves in different kinds of ways, it will help them to relieve stress. If you notice, over the past few years, we're having more and more of our teachers dying on the job."
The teachers were in training for multiple weeks under the guidance of the pageant coordinator, Kathy Grant. The committee's chairperson, Shariah Murray Taffe, also played an instrumental role in organising the event.
Speid said that teachers face tremendous stress daily, so the pageant was geared at their enjoyment.
"The working conditions in this country when it comes on to the teaching profession are not so good. As a result, we're finding that teachers are stressed out, and many of them sometimes are not able to take very good care of themselves ... the best care of themselves in terms of getting adequate healthcare," he explained.
"We want to provide them with that kind of opportunity where they can relieve some of the stress, and this is one very good opportunity. The teachers were laughing, cheering, having a very good time, and we have to commend the Kingston chapter of the JTA for putting on a wonderful function," he added.
For her part, the newly minted queen, Wallace, told THE STAR that it was "a nerve-racking, enjoyable, and a brilliant experience".
"It's my first time entering a pageant, so I'm elated. You showcase yourself not only to the students now, but also to the wider community. So it's a chance for them to see you in action," she said.
Saturday night's show was the first of planned pageants being staged by the JTA.
"We're looking at May 30 for the national finals for the competition. Everyone who participates gets a certificate, and that will add to their appraisal portfolio. This is very good for the teachers ... they will get the opportunity to win some prizes ... cash prizes ... we intend to make these prizes much bigger," Speid said.