Sat | Apr 21, 2018

Footprints | Sylvia Thompson- Dedicated educator, church and community leader

Published:Tuesday | July 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Sylvia Daphne Thompson

Sylvia Daphne Thompson (Aunt Daph) must have broken the record in tributes at her service of thanksgiving on June 24, 2017 at the Pembroke Hall Methodist Church in Kingston. The tributes which spanned all of her 85 years and numbered 17 in live presentations, songs and poetry, spoke of a dedicated educator, community and active church leader, who touched and influenced the lives of some of Jamaica's movers and shakers, too numerous to list.

Those who spoke, all testified to her frank, bold, outspoken character , a rebel from her generation , a revolutionary who came to the teaching profession with new and innovative approaches to teaching her main subjects of English language and English literature. Mrs Thompson taught at several schools, starting at Ginger Ridge, Old Harbour and then to the unknown district of Garden Hill, St Catherine before relocating to Kingston where she taught for several years at the Pembroke Hall primary school. At the high school level, she taught at Merl Grove and Ardenne High before retiring to 'Aunt Daph's verandah, where for several years, many came for extra lessons for the common entrance, GCE and CXC examinations.

The Ardenne high school former colleagues in their tribute, said Mrs Thompson's contribution to the school was priceless as she went above and beyond the call of duty to prepare young teachers. "She was a hit among the staff and students, a caring and kind mentor who nurtured young teachers who just joined the profession. The powerhouse that she was had us admiring and respecting her for being so knowledgeable and wise. Her quick wit was there to break the tension because she had a way with words, to soothe the angry beast. She had the gift that eluded many older educators and to relate to the younger teachers. She could read over a script being used to enter the drama festival, the result being that Ardenne is now the top performing art school in the Caribbean and possibly the world," her colleagues said.

The three generations described their aunt as a disciplinarian, who gave tough love to all her nieces and nephews and was responsible for each one performing as 'A' students in both English and English literature. She had the ability to see their inborn talents and to draw out those talents. The poetry piece performed by poet Craig McNally, had the congregation trapped in a moment of time. His performance of the piece When I die.. spoke of what could be described as the firebrand Mrs Thompson was.

"When I die, they will not say I passed or transitioned ... I want a weeping and a wailing and a gnashing of teeth. I want drums and dragons breathing fire from a pulpit draped in purple. When I die, here lies a body that is no more." Craig McNally left the congregation spellbound and for a few seconds the church fell silent before the outburst of a resounding applause.

Sleep in Joy, 'Aunt Daph' - daughter from Montego Bay, St James - was the note on which the service of thanksgiving ended.