Front Page
May 21, 2010
Teacher dies after going on sick leave

The void left by the passing of primary school teacher Prunella Richardson-Chandler is one that may never be filled.{{more}}

The 44-year-old teacher, who had been posted at the Questelles Government School for the last four years, passed away suddenly on Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours after being given sick leave by her doctor.

The love for her profession was echoed by students and colleagues, and the husband and sister of the woman who dedicated most of her life to the development of others.

Chandler’s husband David, who visited the offices of SEARCHLIGHT, accompanied by her sister Phyllis Richardson-Williams, recounted the final moments before his wife died in his arms.

The police sergeant said that the previous day (Monday, May 17), his wife complained of not feeling well moments before heading off from their Peter’s Hope home to work. She collapsed for the first time and was taken to the doctor, who prescribed medication and time away from work so that she could rest.

“Tuesday morning she got up and was sitting on the bed, then all of a sudden she fell back on the bed,” the teary eyed widower revealed.

Chandler said that later that morning, while kneeling in prayer, his wife passed out for the third time, and at this point, he proceeded to rub her down with Alcolado to keep her cool.

“Then I picked her up, and lay with her on the bed. She hugged me and held me tightly and then after she just let go of me and took one big heave (breath).”

“And then I shook her and called her name, then went to call my neighbor, but when we came back, there was nothing we could have done.”

Prunella’s death was the last thing that Chandler was expecting; he said that his wife appeared to be healthy until Monday’s episode.

Her sister spoke of her dedication at home and at work, and described her as a no-nonsense individual who was among the first to arrive at school and one of the last to leave at the end of the day; in the process, transforming the lives of the persons who came into her care.

This sentiment was echoed by principal of the Questelles Government School Orde Ballantyne, when Searchlight visited the institution on Wednesday.

“She was a complete teacher. She came in early; she brought the students in early. She had them prepared. She stayed after school, and sometimes she gave extra lessons to grade four and five students who were struggling.”

Ballantyne lauded Chandler as the consummate professional in the classroom who was the best practitioner of catering for the diversity and needs of the students in her classroom that he had ever met.

An impromptu visit to her class found her mourning students preparing their own mural in tribute to their fallen teacher on one of the blackboards found in the room.

The classroom itself could be described as a perfect example of what classrooms should resemble; with diagrams and notes on every available space on the walls.

The students, who had been visited by counselors of the Ministry of Education the day before, remembered their teacher for the time she spent with them going over lessons and reading with and for them.

They joined her relatives and the faculty of the school in expressing their appreciation and the fact that she will be without a doubt missed.

A teacher for 23 years, Chandler was previously posted at the Dubois Government School where she had also made an impact.

Both Ballantyne and her husband admitted that at the moment, Prunella’s death had not sunk in completely.

Both were still expecting that at any moment she would return to her classroom or her home.

The mother of one child, Nickson Mattis, who is a soldier in the United States Army, Prunella is expected to be laid to rest when her son is able to come home.

“My sister has left a space and I don’t know when that space will ever be filled,” a mournful Phyllis indicated.