The writing on the blackboard of a classroom at the Au Leon Combined School said it all: “Welcome Ms Levern Spencer we are proud of you as an aspiring citizen of St Lucia. You have made our country proud. Keep doing what you do best! Keep raising the bar!”
Students at the school repeated those words with enthusiasm when Spencer accompanied by Minister for Youth Development and Sports, Shawn Edward; her Manager Gregory Dixon and Youth and Sports Officer Dane Magloire entered the classroom Wednesday morning.
Spencer who is a two-time Olympian and multi Sportswoman of the Year, received thunderous applause. Initially though, she played second fiddle to the minister. He was also well received after a teacher proclaimed triumphantly: “He is one of us.”
It turns out after completing school, Edward got his first job in 1994 as a teacher at the Au Leon Combined School.
After the cheering died down the minister introduced the special guest, highlighting her achievements both academically and in the sporting arena where she excels in high jump. He used her accomplishments as a springboard.
He told students: “If you take work seriously, train hard, listen to your elders and show discipline in all that you do, several of you here will achieve what Levern has achieved and you may even go on to surpass her and do better.”
The children listened intently as Spencer spoke of her early days growing up in Babonneau attending the primary school there, before moving onto the Entrepot Secondary School where she began high-jumping in form two.
Spencer stressed the importance of education and furthering one’s career, which she did by attending Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, going on to Albany State University and then the University of Georgia having graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Behaviour.
Contrary to what many believe, this professional athlete is living proof that one can indeed excel at sports and in the classroom. She went out of her way to encourage youngsters to participate in school sports. After all, that was her launching pad to bigger and better things—like receiving an athletic scholarship to attend university in the United States.
Keeping in mind that school sports was her launching pad Spencer told students: “The main objective when you play a sport is to always be serious and work hard because nothing comes easy. I got where I am today by working very hard and training every day. There was lots of disappointment and discouragement, but if you don’t succeed the first time, you need to get up, brush yourself off and try even harder at the next competition.”
Spencer’s success is attributed to hard work and discipline however, she’s always put religion first and foremost. Her winning formula has always been God.
“I always start with God because I know the majority of what I have achieved was not through my own strength,” she remarked. “It was all because of God and I know without him maybe I would not have achieved anything I have today.”
The proceedings came to a close with a question and answer session on this prolific high jumper. Students who answered correctly received prizes. There was also a donation made to the school, courtesy of one Spencer’s main sponsors Paradise Water.
Over three days Spencer visited 13 primary schools around the island fulfilling her role, being a role model to St Lucia’s youth. She received the red carpet everywhere at what turned out to be a farewell tour.
On Friday the world-class professional athlete, left St Lucia for the USA to begin training for the upcoming season.