Mon | Dec 5, 2016

Retired principal lauded for service

Published:Thursday | January 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Grade three teacher at the Holly Hill Primary and Infant School in Darliston, Westmoreland, Shelly-Ann Gammon (right), presents a citation to retired principal of the school, Audley Townsend, in recognition of his 31 years of service to the institution. Townsend, who spent 37 years in the teaching profession, retired at the end of the 2013-14 school year. - CONTRIBUTED

Retired principal of the Holly Hill Primary and Infant School in Darliston, Westmoreland, Audley Townsend, has said if he had to do it all over again, he would not change the time spent in the classroom.

Townsend, who taught for 37 years, retired at the end of the 2013-2014 academic year. He now spends more time on his farm, a passion he loves dearly.

Reviewing his years at Holly Hill Primary and Infant, Townsend said he is grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to serve the community through education.

"I am eternally grateful for the time spent at the Holly Hill Primary and Infant School. I was able to showcase my talent as an educator, while building and moulding the lives of hundreds of young boys and girls who attend the institution. I believe that I have played a role in the lives of a number of productive Jamaicans who are today assisting in the development of this country," he said.

Having served the profession for so many years, Townsend is encouraging young, bright Jamaicans to pursue a career in the classroom.

Moulding young minds

"Teaching is sometimes seen as a thankless career. However, I am here to tell you that there is no greater payment for a teacher than to see your students mature into productive and focused citizens. The salary and other benefits may not seem to be much, but if you focus on building and moulding young minds, you will be satisfied," he said.

A past student of the now defunct Herald's High School in Lindos Hill, Westmoreland; Bethlehem Teachers' College in St Elizabeth and the International University of the Caribbean, he also serves as a justice of the peace.

Affectionately called 'Mr T' or 'Teacher' by residents of Holly Hill and adjoining communities, as well as the many students whose lives he touched over the years, Townsend said the journey to becoming an educator was not an easy one.

Family background

"It was tough at the beginning. I lost my father, Sydney, in 1973 and my mother, Miranda, who was always there, stepped up to the plate and played both the role of mother and father to us ... my other brother, Collie, who is also a teacher; my sister, Judith, who is a businesswoman, as well as to the several other boys and girls who grew up in our household," he said.

"Obtaining money to fund tertiary education for my brother and I at Bethlehem Teachers' College was extremely difficult, and at times, we had to rely on the proceeds from a cattle sale to pay tuition fees," Townsend added.

He said his mother made great sacrifices to ensure that they had what was needed to take them through college.

"I remembered when she had to sell a cow and after paying the tuition fees in 1980, only $100 was left, which was shared equally between my brother and I. It was not a lot, but it was enough for us. We thank her for the tremendous efforts that she made in ensuring that we completed our tertiary studies," Townsend said.

After his teaching practice stint at the Beersheba Primary School in St Elizabeth, Townsend taught for a short time at the New Roads Primary School in Westmoreland, before making Holly Hill Primary and Infant his domain for more than 31 years.

A lay preacher at the Beaufort Moravian Church, he has served on the executive of the Westmoreland branch societies of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, played cricket for the community and up to his retirement was an active member of the Jamaica Teachers' Association.