Interviewed by Funke Olaode

Can we have an glimpse into your background?

I am Chinedum Oluwadamilola native of Imo state who was born and raised in Lagos. Incidentally, I went to school mostly in the East because my parents wanted me to know the region. I had my first degree in Applied Microbiology and a few years later I embraced teaching.  Ironically, I never considered teaching as a career option but by providence I applied to Corona School in 1993. Being a science oriented person, I have done three post graduates courses in education from three different institutions and went on to do a masters and started a doctorate degree which is still in view.  For many reasons, I wanted to have an MBA and I pursued it as well. Here, I have worked through the ranks as an Integrated Science teacher. I later became Monitoring and Education Manager reporting directly to education administrator to ensure that standards are met in every Corona School. And early this year, I was appointed the Principal of Corona Secondary School.

Your resume portrays you as an educationist. But you studied Microbiology? Did you get into teaching by accident?

I see it as a calling and divine. In August, 1993 I was standing in the balcony of my house and the only official vehicle in Corona Trusts Council then, a Station Wagon  504 passed by the junction. I had this feeling in my spirits that said ‘go to that school’. Incidentally, I knew someone who was an administrator at Corona School then, Mrs. Williams. I just walked up to her and explained my feelings. Fortunately, there was an interview for recruitment of teachers in the next two days. I had a three-month baby then. But this woman encouraged me. I went to the interview with an application.  Mrs. Fowler was on the panel and other Corona Board Members. I didn’t have any teaching experience which Corona was particular about. And she asked me “Why do you want to teach?” I just said I knew I could teach. I teach in Sunday school and I had done certificate courses in Children Evangelism Ministry during youth service in my church, Baptist. I was passionate about these courses for my children and the church and never thought it would be useful one day. They asked me you studied Microbiology, how would you teach children? I said Micro-organisms are everywhere.  I think they were impressed and I got the job.

Why did you study Microbiology?

That was an accident. I wanted to study Medicine and got admission to the then University of Ife. But I had a pass in Physics. I was offered another course and given the option to change later, but my father declined and sent me to England for GCE Cambridge ‘O’ Levels. I passed and came back to Nigeria by choice. I went back and did ‘A’ Levels and JAMB again. I heard that Anambra State University of Technology was looking for students. I went through all the courses and didn’t see anything closely related to what I wanted.  I didn’t want to disappoint this relation who told me to go there. I chose Industrial Microbiology. That was how I studied the course which served as a basis for teaching science which was helpful when I joined Corona because I could do a bit of welding, carpentry, technical drawing etc.

What makes the school tick?

Corona Secondary School is the only Secondary School of Corona Trusts Council. And the Council stands for providing ‘World Class Education.’ And being a trust the ownership structure is different and because of this the school does not have a proprietor. So every teacher is a stakeholder and we always bear this in mind that whatever ‘I do, I do it for myself.’  Again because it is a Trust that does not spare any expense in training the workforce, in providing facilities for the schools. There is this culture of continuous improvement. That is the major reason the Secondary arm and other arms have maintained their record of excellence over the years.  To mark this anniversary, we signed a MoU with Goethe Institut to formalize teaching of German Language.

What benefits or special status does German Language confer on your school?

We have been teaching German Language in the last five years and was made official on Monday November 20, 2017 after the commissioning of Corona Secondary School partnership with Goethe Institut.The world is a global village and because most of our students go abroad for their university education, and in the process of searching for universities abroad, the school realised that in Germany there is quality education with little or no tuition fees, but language is a big barrier. The move was borne out of the need to give the students more opportunities for higher education and scholarships.

If you did not study education, what other career would you have pursued?

I don’t know because ever since I came into education I have not considered any other thing. It was a hidden talent discovered by providence.

What are the gains of being an educationist?

We had an alumni reunion two weeks ago and they spent the weekend with us as part of the activities. You know when you come out and a grown up man driving a big car just prostrates flat on the ground and introduces himself (as your former student) and starts crying, it is overwhelming and emotional. The fact that we watched them grow and didn’t give up on them and they turned out to be successful is most gratifying.

By the time you quit the stage, what would you like to be remembered for?

As someone who gave her best. As someone who didn’t give up on anybody: not a child or a teacher.