Sat | Apr 4, 2020

S Hotel, Althea Laing Group stage student leadership conference

Published:Friday | December 13, 2019 | 12:27 AM
Althea Laing assists students of Farm Primary School during a session on etiquette.
Althea Laing assists students of Farm Primary School during a session on etiquette.

More than 60 students from high schools across sections of central and western Jamaica turned out to the S Hotel in Montego Bay, last Friday, for the Althea Laing Group’s first student leadership conference.

Spurred by Laing’s belief that Jamaica is facing a moral, values and attitudes crisis, the conference entailed activities such as social graces and etiquette leadership skills, public speaking and financial literacy, segments of which were presented by the former supermodel and retired English teacher.

“You need to understand the importance of using your leadership qualities for good and not for bad … . You have to get to that place when you understand the importance of having your own identity. You don’t need to be like anyone. You don’t need to look like anyone. You don’t need to act like anyone. You need to stand apart from everyone. And this is what is going to make you the exceptional school leader,” Laing told the participants.

“We have to stand up for what we believe in. Lead with no apology for who you are and what you are about,” she said.

Laing urged the girls, in particular, to get a sound education first before thinking about romantic relationships, because as adolescents, their “focus now should be on becoming the best man and woman that you ought to be”.

The Hampton High School old girl said she was delighted at the support that the event received from corporate sponsors, including the S Hotel, which provided the venue and refreshment at no cost for the students, who were from Irwin High School, Farm Primary, St Elizabeth Technical High School, Maggoty High School, among other institutions.

“This workshop is such a blessing … it never cost me any money to have it here. It was just for you to come,” she told the students and teachers in attendance.

In his address, President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) Owen Speid said he was in full support of activities such as the conference, especially because of the pervasive poor leadership spanning the entire Western Hemisphere.

“We have a leadership deficit crisis in the Caribbean; we have a leadership deficit in the world. If you look at who is leading the Americas these days, you will tell that you have some amount of leadership deficit,” he declared.


The JTA president also urged the students to take the training seriously and use their school life to the best of their ability. He also addressed issues surrounding leadership within the educational system where some teachers fail to lead.

“I am the president of an association with 25,000 teachers … and almost every day my phone is flooded with problems that the teachers face in the school, and you know most of those problems are coming out of the fact that they are sometimes mistreated by their leaders. But one of the things that we must understand as well is that teachers, by themselves, are actually leaders, too, and every single teacher is a leader. Sometimes the fault is theirs as well, but they complain about the other people taking advantage of them,” he stated.

“I want to put it to you that every single student is a leader as well; every one of you inside this room. And whether you are a prefect or no prefect, you must see yourselves as leaders. Because if you look at yourselves as leaders, then you will portray that image that is necessary to take you through the world,” he added.