Principal, OCA launch probes after educator chases, threatens student
Andrew Morrison, acting principal of Newell High, has blasted a male teacher’s actions as “unacceptable” after footage emerged of the educator verbally assaulting, chasing, and threatening a pupil at the St Elizabeth-based school. “Something like...
Andrew Morrison, acting principal of Newell High, has blasted a male teacher’s actions as “unacceptable” after footage emerged of the educator verbally assaulting, chasing, and threatening a pupil at the St Elizabeth-based school.
“Something like that would disturb just about anybody. It is not something that should ever happen,” he told The Gleaner on Thursday, adding that the footage was “disturbing”.
While expressing empathy towards teachers who may be frustrated in the classroom, Morrison said that there are better ways to deal with issues that arise.
“Irrespective of how frustrated, irrespective of the level of provocation as adults and as professionals, we have a duty of care, and we have to able to manage our emotions, manage our anger, and remain composed. Irrespective of the situation, you have to be able to do that even in the face of what is happening,” he stressed.
Admitting that teachers have to protect themselves, Morrison said it is also important for them to assess a triggering situation quickly before responding.
He said the students who witnessed the events in the classroom will receive group counselling, adding that he had advised the teacher to take time off while the matter is being investigated.
Morrison said the school board will meet today to determine the actions to be taken.
On Thursday, while noting that the case was “brand new”, having first been brought to the attention of her office on Wednesday, Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison indicated that her team is looking into the circumstances that triggered the incident.
“Even though it’s very obvious what happened in that clip, we want to get to the bottom of it – the circumstances of what happened before the video was recorded, and also very importantly, the steps that the administration will be taking in treating with the matter in a holistic way,” Gordon-Harrison told The Gleaner.
“So we are examining, and we will report back as needs be,” she said.
Prior to the interview with Gordon-Harrison, Education Minister Fayval Williams had said that the teacher involved needed psychotherapy sessions, but Gordon-Harrison believes the reach should go beyond educators.
“I think teachers and all members of the society need psychosocial support. For a long time, I find that in Jamaica, we don’t pay too much attention to mental wellness and health and servicing what is going to make us perform effectively. Teachers occupy very important positions, but their positions are also very stressful because they are dealing with a lot of things that are making their way into the classroom, and so they have to be given the tools to self-regulate and also to deal with the challenges at them even as they try to cope with their own families and their own children,” Gordon-Harrison said.
“Teachers and everybody else in the society are products of the society, and certainly from where I sit, aggression is really at an all-time high, and we have very inappropriate ways of resolving conflict and dealing with situations that require discipline, so it is concerning,” she said.
Gordon-Harrison was speaking with The Gleaner after her address as guest speaker at the launch of the Kiwanis Club of North St Andrew’s Sensational Solar Raffle at the Mustard Seed Communities’ Matthew 25:40 Home in downtown Kingston.
The proceeds from the annual raffle will go to the Matthew 25:40 Home – an extension of the Dare to Care HIV Programme of the Mustard Seed Communities catering to boys and young men – through the construction of a transition hostel.
The existing transition accommodation at the facility does not have sufficient space or amenities that are conducive to the needs of the young men.
The raffle is aiming to raise approximately $10 million to carry out the project.