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Talking with Bertilia McKenzie, the mother of Sev McKenzie who topped the Grade Six National Examinations last week, brought to mind the accuracy of James Baldwin's observation: "Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them".

Both Bertilia and Severin McKenzie have achieved a relatively high level of academic success and their children have not failed "to imitate them", to paraphrase Baldwin, the famous African American author.

Another of the couple's son has just earned a PhD degree and their daughter is a medical doctor. Now Sev has begun following in their footsteps.

"The secret is understanding the capacity of your children and addressing that, praying to your God every day and working hard," Bertilia said. "It's not just having the grey matter, the basic level of intelligence, you have to work with your children from preschool. That is the secret."

Sev has not been making it difficult for the family either, a team made up of mum, dad, sister and grandmother. He's also self-motivated.

"He reads, he loves to read, and books way above his grade level," said Bertilia. "He likes his tablet, his Kindle and the games on them. So you have to focus him sometimes but for the most part he was really self-focused."

She added: "He started reading at two and he's an avid reader. He's always been focused and basically he's a very diligent boy."

Bertilia who broke down emotionally when the results of the exams were announced last Wednesday said she'd describe her journey with Sev's education so far as: "Satisfied. Vindicated".

Bertilia Mackenzie is the general manager of the Dominica Electricity Services (DOMLEC), a company that's at the centre of Dominica's recovery after being devastated by the category five Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Severin McKenzie, her husband is Cuban-trained Architect and president of the Dominica Manufactures Association, another sector decimated by Hurricane Maria.

The other top students of the 2018 Grade Six Exams were: Malaika Jno Charles, Dublanc Primary; Cadel Casimir, GrandBay Primary; Kelanda David and Chidi Fabien, St. Martin Primary.


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