Remembering Bubba’ Joynes
Charles “Bubba” Joynes and I had a myriad of things in common: our profession, our love of sport and our fraternity. Despite these commonalties, we weren’t particularly close. I am sure our distance was based in the reality that during Charles’s tenure as principal of Northlands Primary, I was either a director, an acting commissioner or the commissioner of the Department of Education.
Additionally, Charles inherited the existing deputy principal, my wife, Gina Evans. Admittedly, that is a tough space for a veteran educator on his first administrative assignment in Bermuda.
Although there was distance, Charles was always collegial, warmly personable and professional. For me this space gave me the opportunity to observe Charles, and these are some of the things I learnt through my observations of him.
One of my most personal observation is of his relationship with his deputy. My wife is intelligent, fastidious, determined, dedicated and loyal to a fault. Her professional lens begins and ends with “what’s best for children”.
For a new principal, these traits can be intimidating. However, far from being intimidated, Charles invested in and believed in Gina’s leadership. Together they were a powerhouse administrative team who lifted the standards of Northlands Primary and ensured students of all abilities enjoyed the opportunity to excel.
Charles loved the children of Northlands Primary. Over the course of his tenure, I had frequent opportunities to witness his interactions with students. Whether dealing with a struggling reader, or mischievous and misbehaving student, Charles was always patient and poised. Even in extreme situations, he maintained his cool demeanour.
Charles made it a habit to greet every student, every morning, at the end of the parking lot. Charles was out front of the school rain, blow or shine to greet students. I clearly recall Charles, umbrella in hand, marching to transport little ones from their parents’ car to their classrooms in the pouring rain. He did this even as his battle with cancer began.
Charles believed in the Bermuda public school system. Far too often here, educational leaders, politicians and members of the public denigrate the efforts of the teachers in the public school system. Regrettably, those criticisms are the easy default retorts of those who lack the knowledge or ability to understand the dimension of issues facing educators in Bermuda’s public schools.
Charles never fell into that trap. He celebrated and promoted the efforts of his teachers and, in doing so, empowered and inspired his teachers to consistently go above and beyond for their students. Charles wanted to ensure his children were enrolled in Bermuda’s public schools and his daughter, Kree, was a P1 student at Northlands.
Charles was the epitome of a family man. He literally beamed with pride when he shared the successes of his older sons or the accomplishments of Kree and Kruz. As he shared things, there was never an air of bragging, but the joy of the love he felt was tangible.
Charles loved his wife, Lauren! Charles was proud of his wife and her teaching ability and accomplishments. Charles loved his nuclear family and his extended family. His brothers, cousins and in-laws all loved Bubba, too.
At the end of my service to the Bermuda educational system, I found myself appreciatively indebted to Charles because of his integrity and fortitude.
Charles was a member of the Board of Education at the time of my dismissal. As you can imagine, it was an incredibly difficult time for me. Despite constant whispers, support from a wide range of present and retired educators, no one offered any public support. The silence was depressing.
Amid the legal procedure, I was shocked and amazed to learn that Charles, of his own volition, swore an affidavit to the court that was contrary to what was being described about my tenure. It was truly an amazingly act of courage against his employer and the board.
Maybe he did not know how unforgiving this environment could be, or maybe he didn’t care; I just know he had the intestinal fortitude and integrity to speak out when no one else did. For that act of courageous support, I am eternally grateful.
Charles loved our fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi. Whatever endeavour the fraternity undertook, he could be counted on to give 100 per cent. Charles was an organising member of the local chapter of the fraternity along with the late Nelson Bascome, Charles Daniels and Greg Everhart. He was insistent, if not driven, to develop the Kappa “Guide Right” programme, which introduces young men to leadership, community service and fellowship.
I never participated in Guide Right; not that I was opposed, but I felt through teaching, coaching and my community service, my cup was full. But Charles continuously encouraged Guide Right participation because he believed the young men in our community needed that outlet.
Charles Joynes, a community leader, an educator, husband, father and a consummate gentleman — an example of achievement. Like a celestial comet, Charles swooshed in, brightened our lives and disappeared too soon.
Charles, may you rest in peace with the satisfaction of a life well lived.
• Freddie Evans, PhD, is the former Commissioner of Education
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