Barrouallie: Tales of different eras
January 25, 2013
Educational tales

We shall now turn our attention to the field of education, as we take a look at what transpired in this town many moons ago. Nowadays, I often lament how many of our youngsters seem not to want the opportunities which are available to them. Many of the folks from my era and before wished that they were exposed to the levels and opportunities which now exist.{{more}} However, the brilliant minds in my time and before went on to stamp their authority on this society.

My mom remembers one of those persons as the young Parnel (QC), who lived in the house near to her parents’. She recalls how the youngster, under the watchful eyes of his mom and his grandmother Ma Eve, had that inclination to do well at school. Back then, she always felt that he would excel and, so he did. My own father, who became a Barrouallie man by marriage, was also a brilliant mind, moving on to “Glen School” and beyond. In addition, there were the Branch brothers and many others whom we shall encounter as time goes by. Many of the elders here belonged to the old school with Teacher Sandy in command!!! We shall come back to their stories later.

Children long ago had to go to school and they did so with the name brand plastic bags (bookbags), half ah book and half ah pencil. Did they complain? They couldn’t! Parents back then did not “skylark” with their children and discipline was high on the agenda. Today, many parents are trying, but there are too many who have “thrown in the towel” even before the match has started and we often hear, in reference to their children, that “me can’t go wid um”…. HELLO, some of these children are five, six and seven and you “can’t go wid them?”

Of course there were hurdles and challenges in my era, but academic excellence and good discipline ranked high at all levels; there was simply no room for insolence and indolence and many adults who are of the old school will tell you how they got double portions of the rod of correction, first at school and later at home when their parents learnt of any unruly acts which they committed. As a youngster and due to my father’s profession, I was privileged to have been exposed to what teaching/ learning was like in the primary system here in Barrouallie, the Mesopotamia Valley, and finally at the Kingstown Government School (Stoney Ground).

In my time at primary school and prior to that era, children had to learn their tables; our teachers didn’t “joke” when tables time came and a great emphasis was paid to penmanship. Just take a look at the adults who were of Teacher Sandy’s fame, their handwriting will “blow you away”. The hard work of our teachers “paid dividends”, as many of the children, now adults, from my era and before, currently occupy prominent positions in society.

Looking back at my time, I ask myself, how could we skylark when the watchful eyes of the late Mrs O’Garro (the late police commissioner’s wife) seemed to have been everywhere at Stoney Ground School? Additionally, you couldn’t escape the commanding presence of Mrs Norma Keizer (Girls’ High School) or her watchful eyes either. She meant well for all of the girls who were put in her charge. Her management style was excellent. I was told that you could not escape from Teacher Sandy who, in addition to school, was ever present in the community and if ever there was just one disciplinarian in his time, he was that person.

As I reminisce, I remember the contributions made by Mr F.I. Jack and “Sammy” at the tertiary level. They ensured that we learnt at 6th form. In later years, I was privileged to have worked with Mr Ormond Williams here at the Barrouallie Secondary School. He was a principal with a low tolerance for “rude” children; a disciplinarian who managed well. Children were forewarned that even if they were the “Pele” at their sport, they will not represent the school once they were indisciplined. They would not bring the name of the school into disrepute, no way! Additionally, I remember Hermia Scott, another principal who occupied the helm of that same institution and did so quite creditably.

I also think of that young teacher who was asked by my mom to “keep on eye” on us. She, I remember, was my ABC teacher and later deservedly occupied the helm of the Barrouallie Anglican School. We shall “visit” her and those recently retired teachers who would have given “yeoman’s service” in the field of education.

Before their era though, I was told that there were teachers such as Olga Quow, Miss Effie Findlay, Cleo Blugh, Neville Findlay, Lardie Adams, Jimmy Branch, Foster Anthony and Ms Shoy, among others. As time goes by I shall mention those who are still toiling, but for next week we shall revisit the “old school”, Teacher Sandy and the teachers of his time, so until, by God’s will, continue to read.

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