Mrs. Ophelia Morenikeh Morrison is a school Leader with a passion for academic and student development and a history of success in developing effective strategies of educational administration, classroom evaluation methods, curriculum planning and evaluation, academic progress tracking, student discipline and safety, teacher mentoring and development, academic progress tracking and innovation. She has a wealth of experience in the field of education. She has served in this field for an interrupted thirty-five years, nineteen years of which in the position of a Principal of secondary schools.

“When I was teaching at Prince of Wales Secondary School, there was an era, which ushered in the age of computers. It was the end of the month and I was a suckling mother, only to arrive at the bursar desk and I was told ‘Mrs. Morrison computer don jump you name oo, so you salary nor kam’. So I thought it was a one-off thing, but this went on for about five months. I almost wanted to quit, but I was later given my backlog. That was the only time I thought of leaving the classroom,” Mrs Ophelia Morrison.

Since the beginning I had a passion for teaching, when I graduated from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone in 1987, I searched for a job at Prince of Wales School, and I was recruited by the then Principal Mr Oratio Nelson Williams as a science teacher.

I rose through the ranks from Assistant Teacher, Teacher, Senior Teacher, Head of Science Department, all in fifteen years. After the Civil War in 2002, the city was overcrowded with pupils that cannot access education, so the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology decided to open three schools in Freetown to accommodate the growing population, and I was appointed to head Constance Cummings-John Memorial Junior School situated that Regent Square Building then.

Even taking up the job as Principal at the AWMS, it was an emotional moment for me after leaving Constance Cummings-John which she described as her baby, but I had to come over and give back to that which made me who I am today.

At Prince of Wales School, it wasn’t easy, we had boys playing truancy, and they would go to the river to swim. I can remember a particular day; three boys were brought to me, in just their briefs. Little boys in JSS 1, they were caught swimming. I looked at them, as tiny as they were and asked them, where is your school uniform; where is your bag and replied that they couldn’t find any of their property. They told me that they were about to drown when they were rescued by the Bay Community. I wanted to lash them, but I said to myself that they would just collapse if I decided to lash them. I just call the Head Boy of the school by then, and I said to him, you see these three little boys, even as they are, naked in their brief you will take them to every class and let them promise every class that they will never swim again, and indeed they were taken to all the classes, and I am quite such they never swim again. These three men are now heads of institutions and I will not call their names.

I would say working with boys was very interesting. It was at Prince of Wales I experienced the main aspect of my promotion status, because it was at Prince of Wales I was promoted from Assistant Teacher, Teacher, Senior Teacher and Head of Science Department.

As Principal of CCMJS, it was very challenging because we were only given list of pupils by the Ministry of Education and parents were reluctant to send their kids to the school so I was just having 44 pupils in the entire school with only two classrooms and I had to go round the community to get more children to join the school. In two years, the school roll increased to over 500.

Despite the huge intake the standard of the school was very high, our first Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), we had a best BECE of Aggregate 12 and even before I left the school in 2008 we had a best BECE score of Aggregate 8 with roll of over 800.
The first week I was at Constance Cummings-John, it was a school operated in the PM shift and then one of the neighbors Mrs Tony-Davies came to my office (that was 20 years ago and I was a younger person) coming me as a neighbor and brought me a cold bottle of water. I was touched by that neighbor and incidentally, that neighbor will send me a bottle of water every blessed day.

When CCMJS was transferred to Ascension Town Grey Bush, I thought I would be going to an unfriendly environment especially with so many young men living around the graveyard and call themselves Friends of the dead, but honestly they shocked me. Friends of the dead were my closest community members and they were there for me. They said to me, “Mummy we want you to know that we appreciate you in this community, we don’t want you to look down on this community we are here for you.” The first request they made to me is that I don’t need to hire a security as they will secure the school for me and indeed they secured the school for me. Even when pupils attempted to play truancy they would arrest the pupils and take them to my office.

I usually say to pupils, my grandmother was here in 1927, my mother was here in 1944, my elder sister in 1970, I came in 1972, and my children also came in the 2000. So I always say to the pupils that as for me, Annie Walsh runs through the bloodline.

I remember when I took up office as Principal of The Annie Walsh Memorial Secondary School; I didn’t know that it was a kind gesture from the Fullah Town Community to be painting the school gate annually, Christian school in a Muslim community. When I took over as a principal, I had to do some refurbishing which included painting the school gate. After painting the school gate, the next day I had a group of community elders go to my office to welcome me, but at the same time to find out why I have denied them the opportunity to do what they have been doing for years. But I had to apologize to them and we became friends and they continued with the painting of the school gate.
I could remember my very first thanksgiving service, The Annie Walsh is very meticulous about its uniformity, especially in ceremonial occasions. My white hat unfortunately had a black feather. So while I was in church, by then the whip of the Annie Walsh Old Girls Association walked up to my seat and said “Madam principal, you are not in the correct uniform, your hat has a black feather, and the rule is that if you are not in the correct uniform you will not be part of the march passed,” she quoted the whip.

The news had gone around, “she is not going to march, and she is not in her proper uniform. I was sweating! It was then I hurriedly went out of the church, my husband was there and I sent my husband to my mother who is also an alumni and my mother sent me her hat which she had been using for the past forty years. Then, I had to join the march and lead my school. I shocked them!

I am retiring but not tired. Having spanned thirty-five years of tenure, it has been an experience worth living. It is now time for me to bow-out and I must do so gracefully and I am doing so with the fulfillment of having obeyed God’s will. I usually say, I have worked with the boys (Prince of Wales School), I have worked with both boys and girls (Constance Cummings-John Memorial Junior Secondary School), and I have worked with girls (Annie Walsh Memorial School) God through thirty-five years have endowed me with a lot of experience. Even though I am retiring now, I now see myself as a consultant, and wherever I can, I will continue to give all my best.

I want to thank every parent for sending their children to school. Education is the key to development; invest in that key. To teachers, let me share with you my philosophy, there are two seasons in the kingdom of God (both Islam and Christianity), planting and harvesting seasons. Plant in the lives of children as a teacher you will not regret it. As a teacher, the music has ended, but the melody lingered.