CALISTA Chika Ume-Ezeoke: Another Award-Winning, Anambra-Born Teacher



By Chiedu Uche Okoye

CAN anybody controvert the fact that Anambra State is the home-state of achievers, who have gained global recognition for their outstanding and sterling performances in their chosen careers and endeavors?  In fact, Anambra State is a landscape of stars, whose achievements have imprinted the name “Anambra” in the people’s psyche.

Have we forgotten that the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, a freedom fighter, and nationalist par excellence hailed from Anambra State? And, Anambra state is the home-state of  Reverend Father Cyprian Iwene Tansi, who has been canonized for sainthood; Chinua Achebe, the iconic , peerless, and inimitable novelist, whose novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ has sold for millions of copies;  Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the former Common-wealth Secretary general, and others I will leave out here for the reason of space.

Anambra people belong to the Igbo ethnic group, one of the tripod on which Nigeria stands. And the Igbo people, especially natives of Anambra state, are known for their industry, entrepreneurial drive, and love of education. More so, Anambra people, who are fiercely patriotic and sedulous, are excelling in many different spheres of human endeavors like sports, trading, music, politics, teaching, and others

In fact, for the past three successive years, teachers who are natives of Anambra state, had brought laurels, glories and honor to themselves and their home-state through their uncommon and laudable pedagogic feats. At a time the quality of education obtainable in the country has nose-dived to an abysmally low-level, and teachers in the country are treated cavalierly, they have been working assiduously and relentlessly to mould the personalities of students and impart knowledge to them, effectively.

Thankfully, their hardwork and teaching expertise did not go unnoticed, as they received awards and prizes instituted by the government and corporate organizations to reward brilliant, knowledgeable, and sedulous teachers as well as boost their morale and enthusiasm for teaching or pedagogy.

In 2015, the fair-skinned , unobtrusive, and prepossessing Rose Nkem Obi, who hails from Agulu, Anambra State, won the maiden edition of the Nigerian Maltina Teacher Of the Year Competition, which was sponsored by the Nigerian Breweries plc. She received a handsome cash prize for her victory. And in 2017, Clement Okodo,a teacher at Abagana Central School, and  a native of Abatete in Anambra State, won the best teacher award for primary school teachers in the country.

Both Rose Nkem Obi (nee Akpulu) and Mr. Clement Okodo are champions of learning and education. And, they are very zealous and passionate about imparting knowledge to school children, not minding that teachers in Nigeria are oftentimes neglected and treated with utter disdain. And, despite, the fact that we live in a milieu of Philistinism, and that teachers are not accorded respect in the country, the duo evolved a hands-on and participatory pedagogic methodology of teaching, which earned them prizes and national recognition, and endeared them to their students and pupils.

However, it’s not only Rose Nkem Obi and Clement Okodo, who are the Anambra award-winning teachers. There is Mrs. Calista Chika Ume-Ezeoke, a native of Umuoji, Anambra State, who has come into her own regarding teaching. Mrs Calista Chika Ume-ezeoke , who is married to a man from Amichi, Anambra state, has earned  acclaim,  renown, respect of her contemporaries, and teaching prizes through her teaching prowess. Today, she has entered the pantheon of Anambra award-winning teachers.

She was the Lagos state champion of the Nigerian Maltina Teacher of the Year Competition for 2016 and 2017, respectively. And, she was the first runner-up in the 2017 edition of the Nigerian Maltina Teacher Of The Year Competition at the national level.

Those who know her well are not surprised at her winning those priceless teaching diadems, laurels, and prizes. Her industry, her passion for teaching, her methodology of teaching, and the quality of education she acquired from the schools she attended contributed in no small way to her winning prizes in teaching competitions. Now, the sky seems to be her starting point as to teaching.

Mrs. Calista Chika Ume-Ezeoke, who attended Army Children’s School (Primary School) Onitsha, was a former student of Abbot Girls’ Special Science School, Ihiala, Anambra state. And, upon her completion of her post-primary education in flying colors, she proceeded to Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, the School from which she bagged a degree in Applied Bio-Chemistry. Later, she got a diploma in Science education.

Mrs. Calista Chika Ume-Ezeoke cut her teeth in teaching at Queens College, Yaba, Lagos as an NYSC member in 2003. Upon her completion of her mandatory NYSC programme, the school authorities employed her as a staffer of the school owing to her dedication to duty, passion for teaching, and more importantly, her excellent performance in teaching.

Since then, she has not looked back on teaching. Now, she teaches students Basic Science and Biology at Our lady of Apostles Secondary school, Yaba, Lagos. Happily, her love for teaching has not waned; if anything, she is fired up to impart knowledge to students because she wants to see her students become professionals and responsible citizens of Nigeria.

 When I asked her to tell me her methodology of teaching, she said this: “My teaching methodology is one that is learners-centered and I make my class interactive.” Other award-winning teachers use the same methodology as she does.

The likable, personable, and affable Calista Chika Ume-Ezeoke may take another shot at the Nigerian Maltina Teacher Of The Year Competition in 2018, although she is deeply engrossed in activities that will enhance her intellectual abilities, and widen her mental horizon, now.

                                                                               Yours Faithfully,

                                                                           OKoye wrote from Uruowulu-Obosi,    Anambra State


                                                                                Okoye is a poet

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