PATOO GAMECHANGERS | RENEE RATTRAY
Name: Renee Rattray
Instagram Handle: @reneeratt
Now Lives: Kingston
When she’s not juggling her twin roles as mother to her 3 year olds, this week’s PATOO Gamechanger, Renee Rattray is also leading the Jamaica National Building Society Foundation’s iLead programme. She is as meticulous as she is warmhearted and approachable, no doubt qualities that made her quite a success when she was principal at St. Andrew Preparatory. PATOO caught up with her to find out more about what makes her tick as we discussed her passion for the arts, love of family and more.
Three words to describe your style?
natural, elegant, unique
Your personality type is?
People-oriented, assertive, and passionate about every thing I do.
Your greatest skill is?
Being able to inspire and motivate people
How’d you get into your career of education?
I knew from very early that teaching was what I was put here to do. My mother tells stories of me teaching my dolls and the stones and plants in our yard from as early as she can remember. I left Immaculate, having completed A’Levels and I chose to go to Mico Teachers’ College. I studied Special Education because I wanted to help children, particularly those with unique learning challenges. Watching the lightbulbs go on for them as they learn is absolutely priceless and rewarding! I would say my gift has made room for me. I have taught in many schools and I have served as principal of one of the finest Prep schools in Jamaica. Presently, I am thrilled to be working in the role of Director of Education Programmes at the JN Foundation. My job allows me the opportunity to provide technical and financial support to policymakers, school leaders and teachers as they improve opportunities for children across Jamaica.
Do you have any tips for beginners?
First of all…be sure teaching is for you. Our children can’t wait until you figure yourself out. Secondly, never stop learning and finding new ways to impart what you know to your students. Thirdly…set very high expectations for yourself and your students. Fourthly, find a mentor who is a model of good practice; one who will challenge you and cause you to reflect and evaluate yourself. Finally, Don’t forget that you are writing your recommendation every day.
Jamaica feels like?
Home…It has my heart!
If you could speak any foreign language fluently enough to write poetry in, which language would it be?
What’s integral to the work of a creative?
Quiet time to be able to focus on your passions and a space where your work is valued and purposeful.
What role does the creative have in society?
The creative helps to generate innovation and new thinking that can only serve to help a society grow. I like to think of the creative as a disruptor of sorts. That’s who I hope I am…a disruptor for good.
What's your hidden talent?
I am a really good cook, I just don’t do it often enough.
Who is the last person you texted?
A friend who is as much of a political junkie as I am.
The person you admire most?
My brother. He is pure…the least judgmental person I know.
If you could give advice to a younger version of yourself, what would it be?
You are enough! Being someone else is so much harder than just being you.
At the moment, anything my 3 year old twins create. I am whipped!
What’s your favorite app – facebook, instagram, pinterest, twitter, snapchat or periscope?
What do you dislike about your work as an educator?
I get very impatient with the lack of urgency exhibited by some in my profession. I have to remind myself, that just like children, all adults don’t learn in the same way, on the same day…It takes time.
Should the arts be funded?
What role does arts funding have?
The arts is what forms the very pulse of a country and the expression of its people. There are economic, social and educational benefits to be had from investment in the arts. Too often, we fail to realize the difference that arts and culture can make to communities and to the nation.
Favorite hotel in the world?
Zanzibar Hotel in Hastings, England
If you could choose your last meal, what would it be?
I love all things seafood…so Hellshire fish & festival or Sea Bass that melts in your mouth would make me die happy!
Favorite Jamaican landmark?
Oh my God. I have too many of those. I love the coastline on the road from Port Maria to Oracabessa! To die for! But then I also love the views in the Blue Mountains! Simply breathtaking!
What’s your favorite curse word?
I don’t have one
The thing you most value?
The most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
Life is short. Live it in purpose and on purpose!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
The ability to be in more than one place at the same time.
If you had to live in any other Caribbean island other than Jamaica, which would it be?
Dominica. It is a nature-lover’s paradise and plus I have good friends there.