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27-year-old Nikita Williams-Harcourt is a teacher attached to the Lichfield Primary School. Nikkita comes from a long list of teachers, however teaching was never a career option that she had in mind, instead she wanted to be a lawyer.
She said, “I had my heart and soul set on becoming a lawyer, however life does throw unexpected curve balls your way and as such I was given an option of either teaching or nursing and I am not one for needles, so I choose the latter.”
“Eight years later and I can honestly say that I love teaching. I started my teaching journey at the Lochaber Primary School in Region Six after obtaining an Associate Degree in Education from Cyril Potter College of Education,” she further explained.
During her first 2-3 years of teaching, she was extremely scared of public speaking.
Nikkita stated, “On numerous occasions, I can recall having to conduct a session where I’m tasked with speaking in front of a group of people. My friend at one time had mentioned about a club that she was a part of and how it is helping her to grow in a number of ways.”
This led her back to her fear of public speaking and after being briefed by her friend. She went through the necessary requirements and joined the Rotaract Club of New Amsterdam (RCNA), as she hoped that the club would assist her in overcoming her fear of public speaking. Over the years, she has served in various capacities and has overcome her fear of public speaking. Nikkita now serves as director at the RCNA.
Nikkita launched her creative business, called “Design Much” where she makes creative learning aids.
She further added, “The name of my business came about when I was still in the beginning stage. I would try to make different materials e.g., puppets, models among others and the idea that I would first have to think about the design before actually making it stuck with me. So I started with Design then added Much to inculcate the wide range of materials that can be made and So I stuck by the name Design Much Learning Centre.”
“The idea of being able to help teachers create their ideal classroom, is one reason why I opted for this type of business. Additionally, as I was starting University to read for my bachelor’s degree, the funds helped to fund my studies, since I was having major financial issues during that time,” she noted.
Nikkita fell in love with the idea of having an ideal classroom, this stemmed from the beginning of her teaching journey.
For her, having the ideal classroom means having the right amount of teaching-learning materials that cater to the needs of the learner.
She mentioned “My former Head Teacher Mr. Wainwright McIntosh at Lacober Primary, used to encourage us that our classroom should always be child-friendly and have materials that caters to what will be taught for said term.” As such, Nikkita alongside her colleagues, would create different materials and learning aids to reflect topics that will be taught throughout the terms.
“It is no easy task to create learning materials and sometimes even from the previous term, I would research different types of learning aids and activities to make for my classroom,” she added.
Harcourt said, “Having a work-life balance is extremely important. That is something I learnt at a training session held by the Club Trainer of the Rotaract Club of New Amsterdam. At first it was extremely hard for me to juggle starting this business and work. It was during the holiday session, and I was preparing to start my Degree at University of Guyana. I had my very first client that ordered materials for her entire class. I was really excited to have this large order. But I was told that a lot of trial and error would have to occur before I can even attempt to perfect the materials.”
As such she started with the usual writing with markers and as much as she loved to display her neat handwriting, it was becoming tiring for her. This led her to invest in a printer and while in her spare time she would practise and learn about different computer applications and printing to see how best she can create materials that are long-lasting and outstanding.
During her period at the Cyril Potter College Of Education (CPCE), she loved seeing a classroom that was outstanding.
A classroom that has materials which caters to the needs of our learners. Harcourt believes herself to be a visual learner.
“I love having to learn and work with materials that are extremely attractive and would help me to visualise in my mind what I would need to learn during the lesson,” she added.
Classes where the lecturers have videos, games and music to go along with the lesson are classes that excite Nikkita.
Starting any business comes with its challenges. “I’ve had countless challenges from not being able to always have money to purchase materials, to not understanding how to properly manage a business, countless sleepless nights due to having to redo learning aids with errors. I would always say thank God for my grandmother, she is a retired Head Teacher and many times when I have orders to complete and would have to put it aside to write an exam or study for a test, she would be there assisting me in cutting out the materials,” she said.
During her dating period, whenever her husband visited, he would assist her to cut out materials, border the cupboards and colour countless pictures. Nikkita is extremely grateful for both her grandmother and husband.
Harcourt is extremely proud of where she started and to see the direction her business is heading. So far, she has been able to help a few teachers across several administrative regions in Guyana to create a classroom that feels welcoming to their pupils.
Harcourt’s skills were developed from playing around with different ideas for materials at CPCE. Even now she would practise by creating simple models and researching various materials that would be suitable for particular aids.
When asked about advice, she stressed, “With great success comes hard work.
If you’re going to start a business, you need to do research, practice the necessary things needed to help you perfect your skills. Attend workshops if you need to. Listen to you tube videos and audios on how to properly manage your business and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Additionally, always be kind to those you meet and those around you because one day you might be placed in a situation where you need to ask that very person you may have been unkind to for help.”
In the future, she plans to one day own a Stationary Centre where we can sell materials that she makes to other teachers within and outside of Guyana. Currently she is also researching ways in which she can have her materials created digitally and hire a few workers to assist us with making more teaching learning materials.
Another future goal of Design Much is to collaborate with the Ministry of Education to create learning aids and materials for teachers across Guyana, as we believe that this will assist in making their jobs a little less stressful. It will also help them to focus more on helping the pupils rather than having that and to ease the hassle of using money from their pockets to create materials every term.
Design Much can be contacted on (592)-639-7066, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/designmuchLAC?mibextid=LQQJ4d and on Tiktok as designmlc (https://www.tiktok.com/@designmlc?_t=8Yhpi5M47uv&_r=1).