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Ready For The National Stage

By JEFFARAH GIBSON

Tribune Features Writer

WITH the launch of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) earlier this year, party leader Branville McCartney has been making waves in the political arena.

But while Mr McCartney's character and attributes have been examined and dissected by the media, little is known of the woman walking hand in hand with the man.

Sitting down with Tribune Woman, Lisa McCartney, wife of the DNA leader, spoke about a wide range of issues close to her heart, including her family life and her career as an educator.

When she walked down the aisle in August 1995, Mrs McCartney said she never imagined she would one day be the wife of a politician.

Nevertheless, Mrs McCartney has embraced her new life and is ready to take on the challenge of being first lady if the DNA is elected as the governing party next year.

"I did not read the fine print. I never thought about being the wife of a politician. When Bran and I dated we were both at the beginning of our careers and we were very career driven. A lot of what we shared and what we talked about surrounded building our careers. We never talked about politics, but a little bit later we started talking about being interested in how the country is run," said Mrs McCartney.

"If the Bahamian people decide they want the DNA, yes, I am prepared to be the first lady, and by prepared I mean I will continue to do what I am doing. It does not mean that I will suddenly change, because fundamentally I (already) make what I think is a great contribution to the country. I suppose that would mean doing what I do now, but on a national stage," she said.

When it comes to the party's business, Mrs McCartney said she offers input to those actively involved whenever she feels the urge to.

Mrs McCartney is the owner of The Meridian School at Unicorn Village, and although she never studied education formally, she always had a passion for educating children. The Meridian School caters to pre-school and primary aged children. Its philosophy recognises the need for education to be "a time of fun, warmth, security, exploration and discovery". With its small class sizes, the school emphasises community spirit, connecting students, parents and teachers.

"I have two regrets in life, that I did not study music and that I did not study education. I love it and I teach music now because I am probably the only person that would give me a job. I am very passionate about children and that is something that is not political. I have been doing this all my life. I go into schools on occasions and go into youth groups and talk to them. That is something I do as a contribution to my country, there are no political ties to that. This is something that I have been doing for that last 18 years of my career and I love the idea of empowering young people, especially young women," she said.

Part of the reason she became an educator is to help curb the deficit of education in the country, she said.

"Too many of our boys and girls are being allowed to leave school ill-equipped to take care of themselves; that is the bottom line. I would love to see a national education initiative. I would love to see us as a country empower our teachers and give our teachers the tools that they need to effectively teach in the classroom," she said.

The common practice of automatic promotion is something Mrs McCartney said she does not support. She said stories abound where students are shuffled into a new grade level even though they have failed the former level.

"I would love to see where we say to a student if you have not learnt your ninth grade skills we are going to give you a little extra time so you can be proficient in your ninth grade skills before we expect you to tackle tenth grade skills. Our children need to be equipped with the tools to chart their own course," she said.

With general election season opening up, the McCartneys' calendar is filling up with any number of social events. However, Mrs McCartney told Tribune Woman that she and her husband ensure family time is never put on the back burner.

"I am a firm believer in planning. We have explored pretty much all the options and explored everything that is concerned with entering the political game. It has been a little bit difficult for our kids because our lives revolved around them," said Mrs McCartney.

"We have a few more functions to go to and a few more meetings and every now and again our kids are like, 'What, you are going out tonight? I do not want you to go out tonight'. But we make the time up. Bran and I agree that not all events I have to attend with him. If it is something that he feels he would really like me to attend then I would go. But if it's a situation where somebody has a test or somebody has a project and they need mommy there I prefer to stay," she said.

Over the years, Mrs McCartney has dabbled a little bit in everything from music to fashion to modelling. She was crowned Miss Bahamas in 1989.

"After I graduated Barry University with a degree in Business Administration in 1989 my parents allowed me to enter the pageant. My parents were firm in doing things in order, the rule was I could explore those things when I finished university. It was a great time in my life because I had just completed university. I went to New York and I got to model for some international modelling company, and for a brief moment I thought I am staying in New York. Then I realised I did not want to live this way and this was not where I wanted to be because I had a plan to come back and make a contribution to my country," she said.

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