MAN OF ACTION: "I have a very strong desire to work for the JTA," says Dixon, below with Holness at the 2009 Golden Torch Award Ceremony in Kingston.
With the new academic year freshly underway, the island’s teachers are back in the classroom, too many of which are characterized by less than ideal working conditions, physical and otherwise. New President-elect of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Doran Dixon, knows this all too well. And in keeping with his mandate, he says he fully intends to use the power of his office to safeguard the welfare of the educators whose rights the JTA was established in 1964 to protect.
“The reality is that no teacher wants a system that is not as perfect as it can be, and we have spent all our time trying to make the system better,” says Dixon, seated outside his office at Mico University, where he currently heads up the Social Sciences department. “It’s not a perfect world, and I know there might be some of us [teachers] who might not be working as hard as we should, but the vast majority of teachers have the desire to see the system get better, and they go the extra mile to be on the call of duty.”
For the record, Dixon, a study in composure and charisma, declines to offer his thoughts on the work of current Education minister Ronald Thwaites or Thwaites’ predecessor Andrew Holness. “I don’t do the comparison thing,” he emphasizes. And when it comes to his infamous “mongrel dog” comment on the campaign trail earlier this year (and the ensuing backlash), he readily dismisses it, as if it were a distant memory, the last thing in the world he’d opt to entertain. “It was blown way out of proportion,” he eventually concedes.
A faculty member at Mico since 1994, Dixon has over three decades of classroom experience, having taught at every level of the education system, including stints at his alma mater Norman Manley High back in the day. Come August 2014, he will assume the JTA presidency for the second time. He previously occupied the top post from 2008-9. “I’ve lived a great life. I’m not complaining. I’ve done a lot of things I would have wanted to do. I’m giving thanks,” says the doting father of two, who fancies himself “a news junkie” and relishes a proper history debate.
To his very core, Dixon, born in 1962, is an altruist who staunchly believes he was born to serve. “Trying to help people, that’s my passion, and I have a very strong desire to work for the [JTA] because there are things that affect teachers and students that as association we can change,” he says. “Like I said, nobody wants a system that isn’t working.”