Rest, not retirement

Jeff Broomes accepts his gift from student Khalise Collymore.

by Latoya Burnham

Even though Principal Jeff Broomes says he is adhering to doctor’s advice to let his body rest, the Alexandra School head maintained this did not mean he would be retiring any time soon.

Celebrating 37 years in the teaching service, an anniversary he said he recognised yesterday with a lunch with his wife, Broomes was this morning surprised by his students who made a presentation to him at general assembly.

In a short address, he then told the study body that if they missed him from the Queen Street, Speightstown, St. Peter institution in coming weeks they should not to be alarmed.

An emotional Broomes, who admitted being very touched by the students’ gesture, said: “I have been in the profession as of yesterday for 37 years… I want to thank [you students] who are responsible. It is very much appreciated…

“But I have an announcement to make and I am not sure if this is the appropriate time to make it. As I said to you last week, I don’t think I have been in my best form, I haven’t been 100 per cent and that was confirmed to me over the weekend by my doctor who has informed me that my body is showing significant signs of fatigue and I need to do something about getting myself some rest. So you may realise from time to time I may be away from school for a day or two, who knows maybe a week or so.”

Moments later he clarified for Barbados TODAY though, that he was not sick, simply tired.

“I’m not ill, just tired. I had no vacation… It’s just a matter of getting some rest. I don’t want the children to see that I might be here at school today and not tomorrow and wonder if something’s wrong with me. It’s just that I’m tired and it is stopping me from getting sleep, that’s all. I’m not ill, and my body shows great signs of it. I am falling asleep and sometimes I drift because I am tired.”

Asked the retirement question, he was quick to reject any such suggestion: “It has nothing to do with that. I am having too much fun here at school… I’m 58 years old. I could have retired at 55 you know. What is early retirement, a man like me in good health and enjoying what I am doing. I am in good health.

“I went through a whole summer without any vacation. When your body is accustomed to doing something for 30-something years, that is all this is.”

The principal, who was the reason behind the strike by a majority of staff over what they said was his ill-treatment of them, and a subsequent commission of enquiry into the situations that led to the strike action, added that teaching was what he wanted to do from a young lad and still is.

“In my entire life I’ve never wanted to be anything but a teacher and the fact that I made it to 37 years, I thank the Lord for that and I am very happy.

“I was five years old when I made that decision, you know — five years old, standing up under a tree at the Speightstown Boys’ School. I just love teaching, interacting with young people. There is nothing else I would rather do.”

Broomes spent 1975 to 1997 at the St. Lucy Secondary School; 1997 to 1999 at St. James Secondary; then was at The St. Michael School until 2002 before he was appointed to the Alexandra School.

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