Graydon Sealy principal defends tough approach; warns there’ll be no letting up in retirement
When the new school year resumes in September, “famous” principal Matthew Farley, who enters retirement next week, will not be sitting in his office of 11 years at Graydon Sealy Secondary School.
But he will still be a principal at heart and has vowed that as he traverses the island, if he does not see students of that institution living up to the known standards that he has set during his tenure, he will not hesitate to ask them to conform.
“I will be looking for those uniforms, I will be checking for those hems. I may even get out the car and say, ‘look, pull up that sock’. But remember I only do it because I love you,” Farley told his students today as he gave a response speech to a special and well executed retirement function.
David Christie, the deputy principal who will also be leaving his post after spending 41 years in the service — 34 of which he dedicated to The Garrison Secondary School, recently renamed Graydon Sealy — was also honoured.
Following the memorable tributes of song, dance and poetry which spoke of his outstanding career, Farley recalled that when he made his first address to the school’s population 11 years ago, he had told the students that it was not their altitude that determined how far they reached in life, but rather their attitude that will carry them where they wanted to go.
And this was the message he wanted to leave with present students as he prepared to make his exit from the institution and from the teaching profession after 41 years.
He also assured them that “it does not matter who the principal is; what mattered was how they responded to the principal and what the school stood for.
During the function, glowing tribute was paid to Farley as a hard worker and a strong and dynamic voice of agitation for the rights of teachers, who took part in many historic marches and demonstrations of the Barbados Union of Teachers.
Principal Farley was also hailed as a strong disciplinarian who was not afraid to deal with issues head on with Chief Education Officer Laurie King, who spoke to the media following the function, describing Farley as one who would have had a panoramic view of education and would go down in history for being very aggressive and assertive in his attack on discipline.
“He had ideas, he brought many of his ideas to the fore in terms of impacting positively on education and I enjoyed working with him as Chief Education Officer while he has been principal at Graydon Sealy Secondary school,” King said.
The principal, who made local and international headlines back in 2007 after he sent home 213 girls for dress code breaches, had also threatened in the past to take students, whose parents often did not collect them until after hours, to the police station.
He was insistent that girls’ overalls and skirt hems must adhere to the stipulated two and a half inches below the knees; that socks must be two inches above the ankles and that boys’ pants must be worn at the waist and could not be tapered at the ankles.
However, in his usual assertive tone, Farley said today he had no apologies to make for the way he conducted himself.
“While there were those who would say ‘I hate Farley’, Farley has always loved you. There were those who would say ‘I hate this school’. This school has done nothing but those things that are aimed at making you better and the best that you can be.
“And so I don’t make any apologies, I never apologize for insisting on the long skirts, I never apologized for insisting where the socks should be worn. . . ,” said Farley, adding that “I have seen students from this school who have gone on and whenever I meet them they have that distinct Garrison personality that recognizes that deportment is part of character that you can’t buy in Bridgetown.
Meanwhile, Christie was described as a dedicated and devoted teacher and administrator who kept only the best interest of the school and students at heart as he exhibited Christian principles and values.