Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS at Meadowbrook High School made a frantic attempt to console students yesterday, as they were overcome with emotions a day after a teacher collapsed and died at the institution.
Former head of the Industrial Arts Department, 43-year-old Orville Heaven, who was a member of staff at the institution since 1993, collapsed while he was teaching a grade-nine class on Tuesday.
Yesterday, experts from the Ministry of Education Guidance Counselling Unit and the Jamaica Association of Guidance Counsellors were at the school offering counselling, but that was of little comfort for some persons.
One by one some students fainted and had to be rushed to a clinic for medical attention after being examined by the school nurse. At the same time, some students and teachers wept openly at the loss of a teacher and colleague who they said was loved by most persons at the institution.
Industrial arts teacher Leroy Rodney struggled to hold back the tears as he spoke about his colleague and best friend.
"I am still in shock. From the day I came to the interview for the job, we became friends. Heaven was like a brother to me. We were extremely close. He is calm, affable, generous, but he was also a bit stern. I don't know how we will get through," Rodney said.
One grade-10 student who did not give her name said she was still trying to come to grips with the incident.
"Mr Heaven was a very good teacher. He was loving and kind to his students. All now I can't believe what happened. Him teach me and I am telling you that I don't know how I would cope if he had died in my class," the student said.
Principal Michael Peart, in his few words to the media, said it was a difficult time at the school.
"It is more difficult than if it occurs after a prolonged illness and so the suddenness has magnified the situation and we are dealing with it as a family," Peart said. "The ministry's team has been here and they have counselled the children and we are coping."
In a press release yesterday, the Ministry of Education extended condolences to Heaven's family, students and administration of Meadowbrook.