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Welcomed with open arms

Teachers at the Alexandra School welcomed the appointment of Principal Jeff Broomes with open arms 10 years ago, despite hearing “stories” about his history at three other secondary schools.

That’s what the head of the school’s Science Department, Amaida Greaves, told the Commission of Enquiry now investigating the schools’ operations. She did not divulge the nature of these stories.

The long-standing teacher was giving her second day of evidence at the tribunal, which held hearings at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.

“We had a reception occasion for him… We were all there. There were a few of us who planned it in the first place, but we were there,” she said.

“We had heard stories about St. Lucy, St. James, St. Michael’s, but we said to each other … ‘we do not know him, we are going to give him a chance, we always accept all principals, we are going to do the same with him. Whatever we heard we are going to welcome him as a principal’ – and that we did.”

The witness said there was no effort to divide the school along the lines of which school staff attended, and that Broomes being a male at a historically female school was also not viewed as a hindrance.

She added, however, that relations were not as good with the current principal as they were with his predecessors.

“We were a family as a staff, whether you were from Alexandra or you were from elsewhere. This is now my sixth principal I am working with, but with the other principals … we had Christmas parties, everybody was there, it was not like you were Alexandra and I was not, we were a family, and we worked in unity,” she said.

“We never had cliques, we sit together and even now at the lunch table we sit with what we call junior members of staff… This divide and rule thing came in recently, maybe in the last five years or more, when I recognised it.” (SC)

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