Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 16th 2014 Contents | SPORT |
MAGAZINE | 7
LUCIA NERO is a woman on fire. She is burning up with enthusiasm,
optimism, and a genuine love for her job and the children in her care.
Clad in a neat, perfectly matched grey track suit, the Physical Edu-
cation teacher and acting Dean of St Joseph Secondary School bris-
tles with so much energy that you get the impression that if you
touched her you would receive a mild electric shock.
Nero is the recipient of the Spirit of Sport Award 2013 in the cate-
gory "Educator", awarded by the Sports Company of Trinidad and
Tobago for her exemplary contribution to education in athletics.
She is a member of the Nero dynasty, many of whom have a history
of contributing to the sporting world at a local and international level,
and the list of sports that she teaches or promotes includes track
and field, cricket, swimming, archery, badminton, hockey and karate.
She also coordinates after-school activities such as Cadets, photog-
raphy and stilt-walking. One of her "babies" is maypole dancing, es-
pecially performed for the Oruna Rain Festival in Santa Cruz.
Her responsibilities as Dean are on par with, or even supersede, those
out on the track, as she is filled with concern for children who suffer
from stressful home lives or a lack of good parenting. "We try to find
ways to curb their indiscipline, and boost their academic perform-
ance. We give them pastoral care. What they don't tell their parents,
they share with us." She also has a good number of parents who
come in to discuss their children's welfare.
Her methods are unusual, but effective. The lush garden gracing the
school's entryway is a partnership project with a school in Glasgow,
and is maintained by the students. Nero has turned it into a Zen ex-
perience. "If you're late, you have to tend the flowers. Once you're
caught skipping a class, I say, 'Come, let's go talk to the plants.' I let
them know this is not a form of punishment. The flowers need care.
And when they pass by, they tell their parents, 'I planted that!'"
She has introduced the children to the administrative side of sport,
offering them out to other schools and athletic institutions to plan
and execute their sporting events. They've even worked at some of
the national games at the Stadium.
This past week, Nero assisted the students of several primary
schools in the area to engage in a baton relay similar to the Queen's
Baton Relay for the Commonwealth Games, which was also hosted
by the school, under the auspices of the British High Commission
and Her Excellency, Mrs Reema Harrysingh-Carmona, on Thursday,
March 13. For her, it's important for the children to be exposed to
such experiences. "It's good for them to see what the baton looks
like. I never had that opportunity when I was a child."
The primary school event included a fanfare honouring up-and-com-
ing local athletes, Kai Selvon and Tonya Nero, former students of pri-
mary schools in the Maracas, St Joseph area. "I want the children to
know that even if they come from a little country school, they can
go on to represent their country at international events."
As you might imagine, under the guidance of such a firebrand, the
school has made excellent showings on the field. They have won the
Prime Minister's Best Village Trophy in athletics and the national
PTA games, and that always involves a lot of travelling around the
country. "You always hear them say, 'Miss Nero is going somewhere."
Not even the ever-present financial challenges are a problem for her;
the money always comes, as if bestowed by Providence. "The maxi
drivers know me, and drop their price. I took some children to Tobago;
a man rented us a place for $85 a night. God is good."
Nero doesn't limit her influence to the young people of her school,
but extends it to any child who needs it, especially those in her Mara-
cas, St Joseph community and her home church, St Theresa's RC.
In response to surging technology, she has upgraded her methods.
"The children with literacy and numeracy problems, I let them work
on a computer. If they say they can't find their paper, I tell them to
email it to me."
Lucia Nero is furthering her own education in order to better serve;
having completed her certification in Physical Education and her
Diploma in Education from UWI, she is in the last stages of her Mas-
ter's degree in Curriculum. "I tell the children I have to pass my exams,
and they are much tougher than yours, so you have to pass, too."
Born to teach, she finds her reward in the success of those in her
care. "My class is the only one in which we get 100% passes, even
distinctions. That makes me feel good."
By Roslyn Carrington
Photography courtesy Lucia Nero
Queen's Park Savannah
Some of Nero's students at the Archery range
Lucia Nero receiving the 2013 SOSA Award
for Physical Educator from Sports Company
of T& T's CEO, John Mollenthiel
Winners of the Prime Minister's Best Village
Trophy for Village Olympics 2013
Secondary School 5K 2013,
Queen's Park Savannah
At the NACAC Championships,
Queen's Park Savannah, 2013
Nero with T&T athletes, Njisane Phillip and
Dillon Carter, December, 2013
Bon Air Sonics Game, Arouca
Nero's team at the National PTA Games
Buccoo Tobago 2013, where they won the
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