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Lucille Harris (1925-2024): a passion for learning

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Teacher, wife and nurturer: Lucille Harris with her husband, Charles (Photograph supplied)

One of Bermuda’s veteran teachers, schooled by some of the island’s best, counted influential figures among her students — including Larry Mussenden, the Chief Justice, and Sir John Swan, a former premier.

Lucille Harris, a teacher for 44 years, was recognised with a string of awards for her service to the island’s school system.

She was among a prominent generation of teachers who trained at the Toronto Normal School, the predecessor to the present-day Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Attending from 1947 to 1948, Mrs Harris was keen to put the school’s ideas into practice back home.

She was also an early advocate for the use of information technology in teaching.

Teacher, wife and nurturer: Lucille Harris (File photograph)

Mrs Harris taught at Central School, now Victor Scott Primary School in Pembroke, as well as Ewing Street School, May Francis School and Prospect Primary School.

Prospect’s parent-teacher association awarded her for her support in 1983, adding: “It is your enthusiasm that is the force that pulls the dreams of the future into the radiant, tangible present.”

In the following year, the Bermuda Howard University Alumni Association bestowed a certificate of appreciation for her outstanding contribution to teaching.

She was given a service award by the Ministry of Education in 1987, followed by a certificate of service in 1988 for 44 years of teaching.

Mrs Harris grew up in the neighbourhood of Woodlands Road in Pembroke during racial segregation.

She recalled in a 2016 interview having to sneak into the field of the Bermuda Athletic Association as a child to watch events barred to Black spectators.

Mrs Harris attended Central School and won a scholarship to The Berkeley Institute, where teachers included Frederick Shirley Furbert, who became the school’s first Bermudian principal, and Roderick A.N. James, another influential former principal.

She moved ahead so rapidly at Berkeley that she graduated before her scholarship was finished.

Mrs Harris got her first teaching experience at Central School, where she was taken on by the principal, Victor Scott.

Her training in Toronto left her with a lasting fondness for Canada. Two daughters went there for tertiary education.

In 1956, she married a bus driver, Charles Arthur Harris, who hailed from St Kitts.

“In those days, teachers would take on other jobs in the summer,” she recalled. “I worked for a dry cleaner and met him there.”

The couple moved to the Hillview Estate in Warwick. Mr Harris founded the business Harris & Hassell Trucking, and Mrs Harris started working at Prospect Primary.

The couple had five children: the late Michael, Judith, Andrea, and twins Robert and Roberta.

Mrs Harris saw her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as her greatest accomplishments.

She ran her own summer school for her children and young relatives, and also taught Sunday school.

In 1985, Mrs Harris received a grant to study information technology at the University of West Virginia’s College of Graduate Studies, which later became the Marshall University College of Graduate Studies.

She retired in 1988, saying that “I do not consider life as a series of endings, but of beginnings”.

Every moment was a teaching moment: Lucille Harris (Photograph supplied)

A keen piano player, she received a certificate of excellence for music in 1993 from the Bermuda College. Mrs Harris was also an avid traveller.

Her husband died in 2001 after 45 years of marriage, and Mrs Harris spent increasing time in Canada, moving there in 2011.

Devoutly religious, she joined the Seventh-Day Adventist Church that year.

Her eyesight failed later in life. Mrs Harris moved to a nursing home, where the isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic took a toll.

Her family said: “Our mother never gave up on her children, or her family, or her students, and she instilled those same values in us.

“Every moment was a teaching moment because she believed that anyone could do anything if they really wanted to.”

• Lucille Helena Harris, one of the island’s long-serving teachers, was born on November 14, 1925. She died on March 13, 2024, aged 98

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Published May 07, 2024 at 7:57 am (Updated May 07, 2024 at 7:52 am)

Lucille Harris (1925-2024): a passion for learning

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