Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Andrew Holness the student: Former principal encouraged him into marriage, politics

Published:Friday | March 4, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Joan Tyser-Mills, retired principal and teacher at St Catherine High School.

When the memoirs of Prime Minister Andrew Holness are written, retired principal and teacher from St Catherine High School Joan Tyser Mills will feature prominently.

Tyser Mills, who taught Holness mathematics in fourth and fifth form, remembers him as a quiet student.

"He was a bit reserved ... . I taught him and he was not an outward person, but he made his contribution in class," she told The Gleaner.

According to Tyser Mills, Holness displayed extraordinary leadership ability and was involved in a number of clubs and societies.

Jamaica's ninth prime minister attended St Catherine High during the 1980s, where he was both head boy and valedictorian.

His first job was also at St Catherine High, where he worked as a teacher for two years. This, according to Tyser Mills, explains his passion for education.

Tyser Mills said that she had no doubt that Holness would enter politics. Recognising his abilities from early on, she encouraged him and laid much of the foundation for his political ambitions to be discovered.

What is little known, however, is that she also played a role in grooming the relationship between Holness and his wife, Juliet (now member of parliament for

St Andrew West Rural), a relationship that she has witnessed since it first began to blossom while they were both students at St Catherine High.

"They used to play at my gate and they both attended my church. They were school friends and I think I encouraged it ... . I was a favourite teacher of Juliet's, so I did contribute towards the relationship blooming," she explained.

Tyser Mills is of the view that Holness will be a better leader with his wife at his side in Gordon House.

"With Juliet by his side in the same profession, I think it's a good thing. I wish him the best. He has the ability, and I think if he gets the support from his colleagues, he will do well. I put my trust in Andrew," she said.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com