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First day jitters

Some students seemed anxious on the first day.

by Latoya Burnham

There was an atmosphere akin to the first term at the Alexandra School this morning as classes began there, one day later than at other schools.

Much of the hype in the air might have been in anticipation of a new principal, Orson Alleyne and deputy, June Browne, who reported for duty well before 8 a.m., while other newly transferred teachers filtered through the gates, reporting to the security guard before proceeding onto the premises.

The gates were kept half-closed all morning with security relenting only to allow vehicular access and only those deemed having business on the premises.

Deputy Chief Education Officer, David Clement, drove onto the compound shortly after 8 a.m., with the chief, Laurie King and second deputy, Karen Best, arriving shortly before general assembly at about 8:35 a.m. President of the Parent Teachers Association, Carl Benskin was also on hand this morning to see the transition for himself, driving onto the premises at about 8:18.

The students though, for the most part seemed upbeat, a large mixed group even walking in laughing and chatting with each other before greeting the guard and other ancillary staff there with chatter and more laughter.

One parent, who is also an alumni and father of a junior school student, noted that he was anxious to see how the day would go. The man in his 30s said: “It was allowed to go too far. This issue should have been dealt with ever since. De transfers should not be right now because de children got CXCs doing and teachers does teach different. So you might transfer a teacher from here and bring another teacher to start all over again. It should have been in September.”

Chief Laurie King and Deputy Karen Best (right) shortly before addressing the media.

The timing of the transfers was his main concern, he said, adding that despite the previous turmoil his daughter’s grades were still up and he was hoping school would settle down quickly and things would return to normal.

Another parent of a second former, who is also a teacher herself, voiced her pleasure at the attempts to return the school to normal as well.

Stacey Briggs-Saunders lamented that each day she went to work, at a primary school in the parish, to teach children, yet her daughter was at Alexandra not receiving proper instruction.

Very eager this morning, she said: “I anticipate that things will go well. It is in everybody’s interest that things go well. I, as a teacher, am going to boldly state that all of us want the best for the children and if we take to heart the task we took on to become a teacher, knowing everything it entails, we are to be their confidantes, their educators, their friends, to help them to become good citizens. I don’t see why we are not on the job doing such…

“I am hoping for the best because I think it is grossly unfair that I go and teach other people’s children every day and willingly do so, and then mine is not being taught. I cannot understand why not.”

Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn, showed up close to 9 a.m. noting that he was just a concerned party, appealing for all sides involved to put the interest of the children first.

“I am making an appeal, first of all to the kids to settle down when they get into the classroom. I want to make an appeal to the parents to talk to the kids… I want to make an appeal to the unions to let common sense prevail. I want to make an appeal to CTUSAB to take some leadership in this whole process. So I really want to make an appeal to all concerned that we should let this matter be resolved in the safest haste,” he said.

Some of the newest members of the teaching staff, though pleasant, had little to say, preferring to let the day take its course, although the most vocal of the new transfers, Ronald Jordan, arrived looking perturbed and stating emphatically that he was at the school, “because my employer sent me here”.

The former industrial arts head at the Princess Margaret School has expressed displeasure with his reallocation stating that the courses he taught at his former school were not offered at the Queen’s Street, Speightstown institution.

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