deCarteret College mourns loss of ‘The Great Builder’
The hushed tones at deCarteret College in Mandeville, Manchester, yesterday morning evidenced the grieving hearts of students and members of staff alike who were trying to come to grips with the reality that their beloved principal would never return to the institution.
Millard McLeod spent the last 21 years of his educational career as the principal of the institution.
Though he had been ailing for some time, acting principal Angella Walker told The Gleaner that McLeod's death came as a shock.
"He was on leave from September to December of last year and he returned January of this year. He worked during January and a week in February, as he was not very well. However, we did not know that he was that ill," she said.
McLeod succumbed to his illness on Sunday evening at his home.
"He was a builder in every sense of the word. He had a knack to see where you could add a building, convert a building, put up a new structure, or make better use of an existing space. He built confidence in people, students and adults alike. He did not give up on anyone easily," said Walker.
A past student of Cornwall College, former lecturer at the Church Teachers' College, and former vice-principal of Vere Technical High School in Clarendon, McLeod had a successful tenure at deCarteret College - building school curriculum and reviving the sixth-form programme, among numerous other noteworthy accomplishments.
"We have worked together for 21 years, as I have been here for 34 years," the acting principal noted.
"We here at the institution are determined to carry on. He articulated his vision very clearly. He wasn't a one-man band, he did not die with his dreams, and he was a team player, so we know what's on the card, so we can pick up."
... A father figure to the school community
Millard McLeod was described as a great colleague, a brother and even a father figure to many students and young members of staff at deCarteret College in Mandeville, Manchester.
He was said to be one who did not rule with an iron fist, delegating authority and setting high standards for students who even had below-par performance scores.
The principal died on Sunday after a long bout of illness.
"He ensured that every student did at least nine CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) subjects, and no student could sit basic math. Every child has to do general math, even those who were behind. He also did not believe in streaming children," stated acting principal Angella Walker.
Past student Andrew Spencer described McLeod as easygoing yet very assertive, the epitome of discipline, and the personification of the school's motto 'We Build'.
"The school community is taking it hard. It's like the head from a body has been severed," said an executive of the parent-teacher association (PTA).
Grief counsellors from the Ministry of Education, along with members of the board, past students and members of the PTA executive, were present yesterday morning for a special devotional service to help the students and teachers grieve.