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Give people their flowers while they can still smell them

Berkeley icons: Rhonda Smith (née Woods), left, Joan Blades and Levyette Robinson

More often than not, we do not fully appreciate, at the time, those who devote their lives to guiding, protecting and teaching others. Whether they be parents, coaches, or schoolteachers. Yes, teachers, those persons who took no nonsense, gave tough love, life lessons, and, yes, academic rigour.

Today, I would like to speak on a few of these pillars of society. At a recent gathering, I had the opportunity to capture the image of a few of the former teachers of The Berkeley Institute.

Children of the future

Rhonda Smith (née Woods) was the mathematics teacher, Joan Blades the chemistry teacher and Levyette Robinson our French teacher. Like most other teachers, each of them doubled as homeroom teachers.

I can’t speak to the thousands of other students that fell under their guidance. What I can say is that for myself, these ladies, along with all other teachers, poured themselves into their students — not simply as pupils, but more so as if they were their own children.

Very few students could master all 16 subjects that we had to contend with. So, eventually, some would falter here and there. The seasoned teachers could sense early on the students that had challenges. They then offered them the opportunity to “volunteer” to have “mandatory” extra lessons after school and on weekends.

More often than not, this proved to be the bitter medicine needed to move students from the “C” columns to the “A” columns. There are many students who may have been third-year students twice over. Then there were those who made it to the fifth year, yet did not make it to the graduation list. At least not the first time around.

The teachers at Berkeley gave their all to help students, their children, understand the rudiments, not just about academics but about our real history, life standards, community responsibilities and moving our island forward. As the school song goes “We are the children of the future.”

There will be probably no single time that all of our teachers are in one spot. So, we, their students, will not have the opportunity to go around the room and tell them how much they have moulded us into the leaders that we are today.

So, as best as we can say collectively: “Thank you, we love you and respice finem.”

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at carib_pro@yahoo.com

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Published January 20, 2023 at 7:57 am (Updated January 19, 2023 at 3:40 pm)

Give people their flowers while they can still smell them

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