Homes & Gardens
Wednesday, 21 January 2009 05:15
By Debbie Francis
Fitzmore Burns practices what he preaches. His motto, "Aspire to the
next level, broaden your horizon, and take on new learning."
Burns` academic inclinations have taken him well ahead in life. And
from speaking with him, he has no plans to stop attaining higher
education anytime soon.
His early years were spent at the Foundation Mixed and Antigua Grammar Schools. His godmother, Irene Carr, encouraged him to learn music,although he admits "scudding" at times. "I just didn't understand at the time why she was so interested in pushing me to do music," he says.
Eventually, he took it seriously, but after attending a few more sessions, Burns decided to teach himself. From then on, it was strictly upward movement. He played at just about every Baptist church, and eventually went on to teach music professionally. He now prepares students up to grade five for the Royal School of Music exam
"I regretted the little time I wasted when I first started doing music, but for what I've achieved in music today, I'm very grateful,"he says.
Teaching is a field Burns has always had an interest in. He remembers Mr Blackette, a past principal at the Antigua Grammar School, who left an indelible mark on his life in terms of order, standards, high performance and responsibility.
After he graduated from that institution in 1976, Burns worked at the tourist outlet stores owned by Benjies, before quitting and heeding the call to do what he believes he was born to do – teach.
He started out at Goodwill Academy, under the leadership of the late Charles Henry, teaching mathematics and geography.
In 1980, Burns he applied for work in the government service, and in 1981 was posted at Pares Primary School as an uncertified teacher. He worked there for a year before Zone Officer Hewlette De Freitas saw his potential, and recommended he be sent to pursue teacher training at the Department of Teacher Education at the Antigua State College.
After successfully completing this course, with a Teacher's Certificate endorsed by the UWI School of Education in Barbados, Burns was posted at the Golden Grove School, where he taught math and social studies. He still wasn't satisfied with his level of education though.
In 1989, Burns began undergraduate studies at the University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies, and was transferred to the Antigua State College UWI programme in 1990. He completed this course at the UWI Cave Hill campus in Barbados and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Political Science with Second Class Honours.
When he returned to the teaching service, he was posted at his alma mater - the Antigua Grammar School, where he taught mathematics and English Literature for 10 years.
These years were quite fruitful, as he was able to start a choir, and participated in the annual carol service put on by the Antigua Girls'High School.
In 2003, he applied for a vacant deputy principal position, and upon recommendation by the Public Service Commission, moved to the Pares Secondary School.
In 2004, he was confirmed in the position, and after the principal retired the following year, Burns was elevated once again. He was later transferred to Clare Hall Secondary however, until July 2007,when he accepted the government's severance package.
Burns felt there were other goals he would like to explore in the corporate world, and completed an MBA (2000) and an MSc in Training and Human Resources (2004) from UWI Barbados and the University of Leicester respectively.
His career path took him briefly through the banking industry, but after a short time at the Bank of Nova Scotia, he left, and settled in the countryside within the Human Resources Department at Jolly Beach Resort and Spa. When asked what's next in his thrust for higher learning, he says, "I am thinking very seriously about pursuing studies to become an International Hotel Management Trainer."
His rationale: "I see myself going places in this field; the scope is there for it. What I've noticed is that many hotels do not have a programme in place for continuous training, and this is necessary in order for the staff to keep in touch with the dynamics of the hotel industry."
As someone who has worked a lot with youth, Burns says, "Men are lagging behind when it comes to areas of education and career development. What I find is young men are more laid back. If they have a job, a car and a girlfriend, they think their lives are complete,but it goes beyond that."
"Life is about learning," he adds. "The more you learn, the more you would be able to make an impact on society through the lives of others. Whenever I meet someone whom I've taught, I always encourage them to aspire to the next level, broaden their horizons - take on new learning; it will make them a better person."
He says, "Somebody did it for me, so I'm in turn doing it for others."