Tribute to Matthew Farley- A Bajan Gem


The story goes that when five-year-old Matthew Farley came home from his first day of school, he told his mother he wanted to be Headmaster “like Mr Reifer”.


He doesn’t remember saying so, but he takes his mother’s word. “I was five years old so if she said so it must be true … and ever since then my life avenues have led me and I became a teacher.”

After leaving school in 1973, Farley completed a six-week induction course, and in September that year, took up his first teaching job at the St John’s Mixed School. He went on to teach at Vauxhall Composite, St. Lawrence Composite and Ellerton Primary where he was Senior Teacher.

“And now 44 years hence, I’m looking back on a career that I really enjoyed,” he told Barbados TODAY.

“I always wanted to be at the top of my career, so once I entered teaching it was not my desire to settle for less than the best so I sought to become a principal because I felt that a principal has tremendous influence. A teacher could influence at the classroom level but I think that the principal who has an overall vision for the institution, is strategically placed to impact in a much greater way.”

So he pursued professional, academic and administrative training before letting his superiors know that he was interested in “running things”.

Matthew Farley was an educator for more than 40 years.

Farley’s first stint as a principal was at the St Mary’s School in 1996, where he would spend the next seven years at the helm.

“St Mary’s is an inner city school with its own challenges. The high point of that was that St Mary’s was the pilot project for Edutech [an education reform programme which focuses on information and communication technology], which was funded by the IADB, some $396 million and the school was chosen to be the pilot project and I was the principal.

“We had a state of the art computer lab, we had technology in the classroom, technology became part of management, it was really a high point in my career,” Farley said.

Farley later transitioned to a secondary institution, and in 2003 became principal of the Garrison Secondary School, now the Graydon Sealy Secondary.


“I spent 11 years at the Graydon Sealy Secondary School and that was also a high point because the school … didn’t get the recognition that I thought it deserved. And it was my intention once I was there, to make sure that every time you open the newspaper, every time you listened to the radio it was the Garrison, the Garrison, the Garrison.

“And I tried to instil in the students that we were just as good, or better than anybody else. That was the spirit that I left behind, and I said that the same way we have the Combermerians and Harrisonians, we have Garrisonians!”

As an educator, Farley was a strict disciplinarian; a trait he believes is necessary in order to mould his charges into responsible citizens.

“Contrary to what people think, students admire teachers and leaders who are firm, who are guided by clear principles. We might come over as a bit strict, but it is that type of teacher, it’s that type of profile that students love most and remember longest. I had an excellent relationship with my kids. They knew what I stood for and they complied, and when they didn’t comply they knew what happened,” he said.

His relationship with the students extended beyond the classroom to the basketball and netball courts. “Wherever they were playing I was there. Any finals in basketball or netball I was there…. And I was the chief cheerleader at every final. And that was the way to say ‘I’m with you’.”

A few years ago Farley made headlines when he sent home 213 students for breaching the school’s dress code, and wearing skirts less than two inches below the knee, and in the case of boys, wearing sagging trousers. He later took similar action against 265 students for the same infraction.

“It was not so much about the two inches below the knee. It was about students and parents recognising that the school has rules and those rules have to be adhered to. When these students leave school, they graduate and they go into the world, they’re going to go into organisations that have dress codes and they have to comply.

“So it was more about creating that environment of discipline that people recognise that there’s a connection between what happens in school and what happens after,” he stated.

As an educator, he founded an advocacy group, the National Forum on Education, to promote the importance of education on the island, and also served as general secretary of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT).

He was also a talk show host and a prolific newspaper columnist, with articles focusing on issues within the education sector.

After more than four decades in the service, Farley retired in 2014. Last year he was awarded the Barbados Service Star for his contribution to education. He remains busy, with speaking engagements within the education sector, growing vegetables, and as a radio announcer on Life 97.5.

Matthew Farley was awarded the Barbados Service Star for his outstanding contribution to education.

He is also enjoying his second marriage to his wife Alphine, also a teacher. They first got married in 1984 and had “the three most beautiful daughters in the world”. However that union ended in divorce in 2004. Farley said he is grateful that his family gave him a second chance when, in 2013, the couple tied the knot for the second time.

Farley and his wife Alphine

“By virtue of that experience I was able to appreciate the importance of family and I was able, thank God, to get back on track and my second chance has been an exciting period in my life.”

Matthew and Alphine Farley and their three daughters

Although he is no longer running a school, Farley’s passion for education lives on. He believes teaching is one of the most important professions in the world.

“You may live for a whole lifetime and never go to a doctor… never see a lawyer; you have to encounter the undertaker at the end, but you can’t get away from having been impacted by a teacher at some point in time,” he said.


40 Responses to Tribute to Matthew Farley- A Bajan Gem

  1. Cynthia Blackman
    Cynthia Blackman November 27, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Rest in peace Mr Farley ,, You will certainly be remembered ,, Sincere Sympathy to the family as they relive the Happy Moments ,

  2. Lynda Bonnett
    Lynda Bonnett November 27, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Its with heavy heart,I extend condolence to Mr Farley’s love children passed through his mentorship in school and we believe in some of his philosophies

  3. Minimusclecat Howard
    Minimusclecat Howard November 27, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Rip Mr Farley you where one of the best

  4. Marilyn Weekes
    Marilyn Weekes November 27, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Sincere condolences to his family & friends

  5. Veronica Williams
    Veronica Williams November 27, 2016 at 10:04 am

    A man of my own heart! Love the strictness and your rules.My condolences to your family.

  6. Tara Dee Jarvis
    Tara Dee Jarvis November 27, 2016 at 10:16 am

    LOL LoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooL

  7. Lorraine Selman Gilkes
    Lorraine Selman Gilkes November 27, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Condolences to the Farley family may he rest in peace

  8. Maria Jones
    Maria Jones November 27, 2016 at 10:29 am

    My condolences to your family .one of the best Headmaster u will be miss .

  9. Shermaine Chase
    Shermaine Chase November 27, 2016 at 10:32 am

    My deepest condolences.

  10. Pedro Shepherd November 27, 2016 at 10:41 am

    It is with profound sadness that I learnt of the passing of one of Barbados’ most outstanding educators in the person of Matthew Farley. The Barbados Union of Teachers has had the great fortune of him sharing some of his time a both an ordinary member and as its Deputy General Secretary for a period. As President of the Barbados Union of Teachers and on my personal behalf I would want to extend sincere condolences to his wife and children as well as to his extended family at this time. Matthew and I shared the studio at Starcom only two Wednesdays ago as he hosted his programme. On leaving the studio he said to me feel free to call him any time that I have an issue to ventilate relative to education.
    This morning as I reflect on the times that we have interacted I must say that I had the deepest respect for Matthew as a leader and a person who was fearless in what he did as teacher and as a Principal. The education fraternity has lost another great champion and Barbados has lost a true son of the soil.
    Matthew is among the few if now the only Primary school Principal who transitioned from primary to secondary as Principal. As a Principal he lead by example at both St. Mary’s and the Garrison- now The Graydon Sealy Secondary School. He was a master at his craft. He was a leader exemplar.
    The BUT will miss him, the education fraternity will miss him, his students will miss him, Barbados will miss him but his contribution to education would never be missed. We would forever hear his voice, see his infectious smile and carry the portrait of that infamous hair style he wore for years. May his soul rest in external peace and rise in glory. Long live Matthew, long live.

  11. Cinderella Richards
    Cinderella Richards November 27, 2016 at 10:49 am

    So long Mr. Farley. Fly with the Angels

  12. sasha November 27, 2016 at 10:51 am

    condolences to the family

  13. Annie Davis
    Annie Davis November 27, 2016 at 10:59 am

    My condolence to the family rip

  14. Janette Reifer
    Janette Reifer November 27, 2016 at 11:43 am

    One of the best gone. Unbelievable !

  15. Cheryl Best
    Cheryl Best November 27, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Condolences to your family may you rest in peace and rise in glory.

  16. Alicia November 27, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    my deepest condolences to his family….a great and inspiring light has been turned off..will miss him on “Dear Sir” i know it will not be the same without him…verry sad.

  17. Sonya Babb
    Sonya Babb November 27, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    My sincere condolence to Mr Farley family another good man has gone to be his creator

  18. Alleyne Heath
    Alleyne Heath November 27, 2016 at 1:14 pm


  19. elmonda trotman November 27, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    May he rest in peace and rise in glory

  20. Carl Benskin November 27, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    My sincere condolences to the family of Matthew Farley may his soul Rest In Peace . We all will miss you.

  21. Aubry Speaks
    Aubry Speaks November 27, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    RIP Mathew Farley. I will always remember our conversations.

  22. Rochelle Walton November 27, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    A little while ago my mother gave me the news about Mr. Farley’s death. I must say at first i didn’t want to register it. Truth is, Mr. Farley use to beat my ass on a regular, he had my backside red and bruised up with that purple hart stick he had in his office.. As much as I hated him giving me licks and sending me home from the Garrison in the end, you then gave me a second chance at redemption. God knows I was a lot of trouble back then going to school and constantly getting into fights and getting send home for shoes or short school skirts.. Nobody wanted to see me back at the Garrison, I had no good reputation, teachers told him he was going to regret letting me return for a second chance in fifth form, because they were other children more deserving of the position I was then given. I had to report to him daily for three months on probabtion, my teachers had to sign a slip for my attendance at every class, i had to go to school early everyday and wear my school skirt two inches below my knees, and report to him every lunch time. I had to change my attitude towards school and to life. He saw something in me I didn’t see in myself, and I didn’t want to see it at that time. I was so caught up in the life I was living with no care in the world and I didn’t recognised myself. Mr. Farley’s second chance, allowed me to leave school and graduate with 5 cxc’s, he helped discipline me, and helped groomed me into the person I’ve become.. I wouldn’t be where I am today if he didn’t give me that second chance. I left the Garrison to go onto BCC hospitality institute, he was proud to see me moving forward and doing great at school. I graduated and then went on to the university of the West Indies of which I’m in my final year never even expecting to go as far as I have. Mr. Farley, I am truly thankful for all you did for me. You were definitely a good man who cared a lot about the students he came in contact with daily. I hope you will continue to be remembered for all the good you have done. R.I.P. sir, you were one of a kind!! Condolences to your family.

  23. Crisann Simon
    Crisann Simon November 27, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    My deepest condolences to the his soul RIP

  24. Robert Hazell November 27, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    My condolences to the family of MR Matthew Farley, I pray that the Lord will strengthened and comfort them at this time of bereavement, may the Lord keep them in the palm of his hand and may the bless you all.

  25. Koko Skinner
    Koko Skinner November 27, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    Barbados Has Lost an outstanding Educator Mr Mathew Will do Down In History As A No Nonsense Educator. On the behalf of my family and I we Extend our Deepest Condolences to the family, friends, Pupils Of the schools he taught at and the Teaching Fraternity. Eternal Rest, Grant unto Him O Lord And Let Perpetual light Shine Upon Him. May He Rest in Peace.

  26. Rosalind Eastmond
    Rosalind Eastmond November 27, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    A Great Gentleman has Gone to be with His Maker .

  27. Olivia Phillips November 27, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Condolences to the family.
    be assured that God is able to keep, strengthen and comfort you at this time of your lost.

  28. Rev. Charlene E. Cothran November 27, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    My soul shook when I received the news of his passing. A wonderful person, full of passion for righteousness. We will see you again my friend.

  29. Loretta Griffith November 27, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Not questioning God, but one wonders why those of us who have a tangible contribution to make is taken away and the criminals remain.
    Sincere condolences to his wife, children and extended family.
    May he have eternal rest.

  30. Huntress hunte November 27, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    RIP MR FARLEY your father has called you home to help with his heavenly business Amen

  31. Verniter Small November 27, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    May God be with u Mr.Farley
    Rest in peace

  32. Sylvana Brereton November 27, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    My deepest sympathy to the family.RIP

  33. Glendora Larrier-Jones November 27, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    Condolences to Mr. Farley’s family, former colleagues and all persons who have been impacted by his life and now his passing. May he Rest in Peace!

  34. Streeks Stephen
    Streeks Stephen November 27, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    Condolences to his Family and Kids

  35. Sandy November 28, 2016 at 12:16 am

    Rest in peace

  36. Janelle Johnson
    Janelle Johnson November 28, 2016 at 9:30 am

    May he rest in peace

  37. Rev. Dr. Grace Showan November 28, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    It is with sincere condolences that I write on behalf of the Grace Showan Educational Foundation. Mr. Farley was an integral member of this foundation and fully interested in all the accomplishments and projects over the years.

    He exhibited such profound knowledge and educational expertise that all who benefited from his wisdom always left fully engaged and inspired.

    We will remember him as a stalwart of education, a friend and a partner in advocacy whose legacy will live on.

  38. Tony Waterman November 28, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Matthew Farle!!!!! may he rest in Peace , and Rise again someday with the Angels in Glory.

    My sincerest Condolences to his Family, and all the Families Involved.

  39. Coralene Cadogan November 28, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    One must also remember Matthew Farley’s cultural talents and the love he had for the arts. May he R.I.P and my condolences to his family.

  40. robert farley January 3, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    best wishes to the farley clan re your loss , Family legands have my farleys with a connection to your part of the world, would love to explore it if interested


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *