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Audrey Jean McLaren was born in St. Thomas, Jamaica. She has a large and complicated family background which raises no eyebrows in Jamaica. To make her family tree less daunting, she often explains that you will probably find relatives of hers on every continent.

A stubborn child in a strict household. That's how Audrey would probably describe her early days. She grew up with her mother, father, five of her siblings, and occasional sprinklings of nieces and nephews. Those were the days when the island had one television station which signed on at 4:00 pm. and signed off at midnight; when almost everything on TV was her favourite...from cartoons to kung fu to horror. Those were the days when the television only showed black and white films, and if her mother saw a couple kissing on the screen, the television set was immediately turned off and all the children in the household had to go to their beds.

Audrey did not enjoy her school days and can relate many tales of victimization and corporal punishment. Her first year at basic school (at about age 4 or 5) is clouded by memories of her writing in a dark, hot room with many students and one teacher. She started primary school at age 6, and spent 6 mostly miserable years trying to work at a standard that would please her teachers, and thus spare her from the ever present belt or cane. High school also had its trials, but by then, Audrey was a survivor.

After high school, she went on to Shortwood Teachers' College, where she completed a Diploma in Teaching. She later completed a Bachelor of Arts, and a Master of Arts at the University of the West Indies. She pursued a teaching career in Jamaica, where she taught at Norman Manley High School for 3 years, and at Immaculate Conception High School for 11 years.

In 2000, the land of Canada became Audrey's new home. She decided to leave her island in the sun after struggling to cope with the death of a very close friend. Canada, however, was no stranger to Audrey, because some of her siblings and other relatives were living there since the 1960s.

What was strange about Canada, was the weather and the culture. Nothing she did would keep her warm during the first winter. She was wearing layers and layers of winter clothing from as early as October. She now laughs at it, especially since she no longer minds the long winter months. Audrey has long gotten over the culture shock. She still has a lot to learn about the Canadian culture, and is taking it in strides as she works in the system and forms new bonds.

She started working in the education system shortly after her arrival in Canada. Since then, she has taught at both the elementary and the secondary levels. She enjoys working with the senior students and plans to continue working at the secondary level.

Although Audrey no longer lives in Jamaica, her heart is always there. She spent most of her life on that island; centuries of the history of her ancestors are woven in the fabric of that rock in the sun; many close relatives and friends still live there; and no matter how long she stays away, she is still a Jamaican by birth, experiences, and aspirations.

To show her commitment to Jamaica, she became a foundation member of the Jeffrey Town Education Association (JTEA). This is a non-profit organization which was formed in Toronto, Canada. Its main aims are to rebuild the Jeffrey Town Primary School (which was destroyed by fire over a decade ago), and to ensure that all the children who attend the Jeffrey Town Primary School (which is in St. Mary, Jamaica), receive quality education. The organization gets all of its money from fundraising activities. page 2>>

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