Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Teachers, students mourn principal

Published:Tuesday | April 5, 2016 | 12:01 AMTamara Bailey
Students of Hope Village Basic School use playdough to express their sadness at school in Williamsfield, Manchester, yesterday.
The desk of late principal Gail Anderson at Hope Village Basic School in Williamsfield, Manchester.

Unlike previous Monday mornings when teachers and students would be eager to get back to the classroom, a blanket of sadness hung over Hope Village Basic School in Williamsfield, Manchester, yesterday.

Five days after the death of principal Gail Anderson alongside her fiance, Jamaica Defence Force Sergeant John Williams, in what was believed to be a murder-suicide, the tragedy is still fresh in their minds.

With several counsellors in designated rooms for parents, teachers and students, regular classes were postponed and the members of the board sought to maintain a comforting environment for all present.

"I was so crushed this morning, and I questioned how I could come here feeling so crushed ... . I reflected on Ms Anderson's strength, knowing the kind of person she was, and I knew she would want to us to come and be strong this morning, be empowered to do our best, let the enemy know he is defeated, and build on her strong foundation," said teacher Cherry-Ann Mighty.

Dr Auma Ffolkes, chairman of the school board, told The Gleaner that while it was a difficult time for the institution, the work has been done and continues to be done to ensure the school facilitates learning at its optimum.

"Members of staff have been here since six this morning, and the teachers have designated comfort rooms for the children, the hall for the parents, and other rooms for other persons who visit us to go and think on the memories that our late principal has set. She [was] a builder, a hard worker, a strong principal," Ffolkes said.

"We have representatives from the Ministry of Education present, the supervising primary school, McIntosh Primary ... . We didn't have a general assembly, as we didn't want things to erupt. Instead, we have included a parent in each classroom and the students have been drawing their feelings as a means of unloading their grief, as they miss her (Anderson) so much."


Acting principal ready


Recognising the legacy left to her, acting principal Lileth Bonner said, though the responsibility is huge, she is ready for the undertaking.

"It is not something I had expected, and it pains my heart to the core, because we were friends as well as colleagues," she said.

"It is really hard ... it's a huge responsibility, even though I had acted for her for eight months when she was on leave. It is still a huge responsibility, but I know, with her, she has put plans in place, she has laid the foundation, and it should be a smooth transition ... . The parents have always been supportive and it's all hands on deck at this time."