TT United Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) 2019 teacher of the year, Rhonda Jones is well known for her good work within her La Horquetta community and school.
In fact, this was what landed the standard two teacher at the La Horquetta South Government Primary School the prestigious title. She is now extending that service to the children of TT through her Aunty Rhonda's Your Time to Shine talent show, which is open to those who are 12 and under.
"God put this in my heart a long long time ago. But now that the children don't have much to do because of covid19, I decided to go ahead with it. Children can showcase any talent they have. Spoken word, a monologue, gymnastics, choral speaking, dance, whatever. The only thing is that the child must not turn 13 before the finals on July 4."
She said registration is free and auditions have already begun and will continue until next Sunday. Entrants can submit videos via WhatsApp or e-mail.
"So far I've gotten some really great responses and talented youngsters," Jones told WMN.
The preliminary round will be done virtually and 12 participants will move on the semi finals in June, and six will move on the final round in July.
"We've spaced out each round to give them time to enhance their talents and bring their best game, and all levels will be will be streamed live. I look forward to unearthing some really good talent."
She said members of LH Movers Sport and Cultural Committee, a group she founded and of which she is president, will be judges. The group organises community sporting, Carnival and cultural activities.
Jones said every performer at every round will go home with a prize. "I want them to be able to say 'my time was worth it' so I'm working on getting vouchers, hampers and tokens." So far she has pledges from friends and past students, and she has sent out sponsorship requests to a number of organisations. "I have also spoken to MP for La Horquetta/Talparo Foster Cummings and he has advised me to send in a proposal."
Winners in the final round will be awarded with tablets and vouchers, "and I plan to get some trophies," she said.
Jones, a teacher for over 27 years, said the introduction of virtual learning has flipped the script on her, as the transition from physical to virtual classes has been a learning process for her.
"My children are really teaching me a lot because I was never a very tech-savvy person. Now my turn to learn from them. 'Miss you know you can touch this to get this, right?' they often have to tell me when I have no idea what to do. But it has been a really good experience and it has gotten a bit easier."
She said the majority of her student attend their online classes religiously, while there are a few who don't come out everyday. But, she said, whatever struggles they may have with the new way of learning, all she wants is for them to try.
"I tell them all the time that they should not be afraid of failure. It's part of success."
Jones said she has been a community person for as long as she can remember, and loves it just as much as she loves cricket. "I'm a qualified cricket coach and umpire with certifications from the West Indies and Australia. I did sport journalism at IBC (Institute of Broadcasting Careers)," she told WMN, and highlighted the work she has done with TT's women cricket, the National Primary Schools' league, the National Cricket board and the Prime Minister's Best Village Trophy Competition.
"This is what I do. My passion, my joy. Giving back."
Anyone interested in having their children audition for Aunty Rhonda's Your Time to Shine talent show can e-mail their videos to firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp to 323-4048.