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Former principal and student tackling community chaos

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Striking a chord: retired prison officer Dorian Tucker, left, and former Francis Patton Primary School principal Dean Furbert, are collaborating to help Bermuda’s men (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

When Dean Furbert was a boy, his mother would not allow him to leave the house unless he was dressed immaculately. She had standards.

“Your tie had to be straight and your shoes had to be shined,” the 88-year-old remembered. “If you met someone on the road, you spoke to them.”

These habits stayed with him through his long career as a principal at Francis Patton Primary, and now pastor at Crawl Hill Gospel Hall.

His dapper style was one of the things that impressed Dorian Tucker when he started at the school as a student in the early 1970s.

“He always carried himself well,” said Mr Tucker, 59. “I was not afraid of him, but I really did not want to disappoint him. He was not only a disciplinarian, but very talented. He taught music, and also had a way of making you feel good about yourself.”

At home, Mr Tucker had a strong mother who demanded the best of him, but his father, was not emotionally engaged.

As a principal, Mr Furbert always made sure that everyone was valued in his school.

“We did not have people who could be thrown away,” he said. “The teachers knew I would not tolerate that.”

Mr Furbert became Mr Tucker’s hero.

They lost touch when Mr Tucker left the school. He worked as a prison officer for 36 years, often counselling the men in his care.

The pair came to each other’s attention again after The Royal Gazette printed an article about male leadership workshops Mr Tucker was running.

“When I saw that, I said wow, this shy little boy has done well for himself,” Mr Furbert said. “He was never any trouble, and was always out of sight.”

He was particularly intrigued by Mr Tucker’s community activism.

“It immediately struck a chord with me, because as a pastor I work with people all the time,” Mr Furbert said.

He and Mr Tucker are now collaborating to raise the consciousness of men.

On Saturday, they will be holding a pre-father’s day breakfast and men’s only leadership session.

The work seems particularly urgent in light of recent community violence – a 37-year-old mother of five shot dead four days ago, a teenager arrested for stabbing another man to death on the beach during Bermuda Day.

Mr Furbert believes the community chaos is triggered by a lack of positive male leadership in the family.

“It is very sad,” the pastor said. “Today, so many boys do not have fathers in the home. At school, often all their teachers are ladies. The boy’s vision of what they are supposed to be is blurred.”

He said without positive father figures, they look elsewhere for someone to emulate.

Leadership session: Crawl Hill Gospel Hall pastor Dean Furbert speaking a men’s workshop organised by retired prison officer Dorian Tucker (Photograph supplied)

“They ask themselves, who is it that I can be like,” he said. “They are finding it on the streets. They join gangs and end up killing each other. It is very troubling.”

Mr Furbert said that as “an old man”, it was hard to understand the origins of the violence Bermuda is seeing in the community.

“Bermuda is such a small place,” he said. “Where did this come from? It is very sad.”

The pastor believes that men have lost their unique role in society and the family.

“Men have become unaware of the significant role they have,” he said.

Mr Tucker said some people think parenting ends when children reach a certain age.

“I have two grown children, and I am still coaching them, and also their spouses,” he said. “Parenting never stops.”

He is part of Generation X, and Mr Furbert is part of the Silent Generation, also known as The Traditionalists.

“There is an entire generation – baby-boomers, between us,” Mr Tucker said. “I put on my flyer that when generations of men connect, opportunities for growth can happen.”

They have already done several workshops together, including one held at Mr Furbert’s church last week.

“It was a great success,” Mr Tucker said. “I was expecting mostly mothers to come, but it was mostly males. That was really pleasing.”

Fifteen to 20 people attended, a greater turnout than he anticipated. There was also a good mixture of generations in the room.

“One of the millennials even wanted to hook-up with me to do something with his generation,” Mr Tucker said. “It was really good to see people coming out and trying to find solutions for raising boys.”

He loves it when someone calls him after a workshop to say they tried some of the techniques with their son or grandson, and it had a positive impact. “That is how I measure success,” he said.

Mr Furbert praised the work that his former student was doing, calling it powerful.

“I am just so happy to be associated with it, and I hope that it has long-term consequences,” he said. “In spite of what is going on in the community, I am an optimist. I believe there is hope.”

Saturday’s event breakfast and leadership session will be held at 9am at Crawl Hill Gospel Hall. Tickets are $10 available on www.gpass.bm. For more information call 737-2207.

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Published June 12, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated June 13, 2024 at 8:08 am)

Former principal and student tackling community chaos

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