Tribute to Past Guyanese Teachers (cont’d) – By Lear Matthews

Back to School: Continuing the Tribute to Past Guyanese Teachers

By: Lear Matthews

History is not was, but reflected in what is (Anonymous)

My introduction to formal education at Susamachar’s, a kindergarten church school at  the corner of South Road and Light Street, Georgetown included writing with a slate pencil, repeatedly “rubbing out”  mistakes, sometimes with spit on my finger tips, mostly due to lack of confidence.  My brother attended Teacher Georgie School on Princess Street. I then went on to Primary School, where I was introduced to the lead pencil and eraser, exercise book, big cursive (“join-up”) writing and the “wild cane.”  Discipline re-enforced.  By Third Standard I was using a fountain pen with a fine-tip “nib”, and doing plenty sums, although my penmanship left much to be desired.   

The well-worn, but sturdy wooden benches and matching desks appeared to have been built a century earlier.  Wearing khaki short pants, brown Bata “yatin” boots and lugging a home-made cloth book-bag, I sat next to my buddy Michael (whom I overheard promising his “gyrl” friend a bottle of “Cush Cush perfume”).  Confidence regained.

Here we are – from slate and pencil to mouse and keyboard.  As we continue to honor the memory of teachers across Guyana, instrumental in giving meaning to the above-mentioned school environment, let us be reminded of how we got from there to here- through them.

T. Eric M: At Smith Church Primary in the late 40s and early 50s Mr. Harold Jackson (H.M.) and Mrs. Pollard in Scholarship class were the two teachers I remember most vividly.  At the new Queens College building (opened 1951), I remember Carl Browne, who taught Geography; E.R. Burrowes, our Art Master; H.R. Persaud (Bats), who taught English in the Fourths; Joshua Ramsammy, Archie Lee, Josgua Ng Chung, Jerry Niles, Richard Alsopp, Pryor Jonas, and M.T. Lowe. 

These were men of substance who made learning enjoyable and who exerted great positives on the boys who came under their influence and tutelage.  Later, as classroom teacher, I was greatly influenced by George N. Cave (“never turn your back on a class”), Basil Hines (“a school must have a tone”), Edgar M. Wilson (“we are only playing around the fringes of knowledge”), and Ms. Celeste Jaundoo (“we have to keep trying”). These were great mentors, leaders and educators who loved children and also loved learning.  Their efforts, contributions, and sacrifices remain immeasurable and are indelibly imprinted in the memories of many.

Carlos R: Mr. James K. Marks, former Head Master, Queenstown R.C. School (Lonkey), at age 90, resides in Canada with his wife Mary. There is a saying “those who dared to teach will never cease learning”. This is so true of Mr. Marks, a very patient man, who allowed his students to learn from their mistakes.  He touched many lives and all that he asked in return was that students develop academically and contribute to society. Everyone who fell under his wings became a better person.  He did not want us to be perfect, but accepted us for what we were. A model of honesty and integrity, his acts of kindness created a ripple with us in our own lives. 

He was a disciplinarian, but fair. He took a ferry from LaGrange daily and was always punctual.  Very resourceful, he created an exam environment by typing exam questions and printing them on a manual printer with liquid ink solution.  The papers were all blotched, but very professionally done in those days. He challenged his students, teaching us that it is what we do with our life that counts and it will be based on how well we use what we learn.  Queenstown RC being a Catholic School was under pressure to focus on religious teaching, but Mr. Marks was adamant to have a greater balance, insisting that all subjects be allotted equal time.  Looking back with gratitude, I think that we loved Mr. Marks because he treated us equally well, although he was a staunch disciplinarian. 

The genius, dedication, commitment, work ethic and products of this often under-appreciated and unheralded legion of teachers of urban and rural Guyana, must be retold. Their story is our history. 

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Comments

  • ndtewarie  On December 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm

        I am a poet today, because my teachers instilled poetry into me. My first teacher was a Mr Lochan, then Tr. Riley, Tr. Joseph, and later Mr.Ben Chinapen. I owe my up bringing to my teachers and headmasters, all men of caliber and decorm like the late J W Chinapen, J Butchey, and John Ramlall.     When I became a teacher I was fortunate to work for the great CV Nunes, Cumberbatch, Mr Fields and Mr James Sukhu. I loved school, kids and my teachers. I read recently in Lear Matthews’s  article where he mentioned Mrs Celeste Jaundoo. Mrs Jaundoo taught at Bush Lot Lachmansingh Canadian Mission which later became Lachmansingh Govt.,most of her years and everyone passed through hand. She was a beloved teacher and a pillar of the Bush Lot Society.

    thanks.  Naraine Datt

    ________________________________

  • Cyril balkaran  On December 29, 2012 at 9:34 am

    We must at all times pay our humble respect to all our teachers past and present. They have moulded us into who we are today and they have taught us in an era when so little was available to teach us and all that was required of us was our Dedication to learning, our Honesty, our Love for learning, our Discipline and our respect to those who taught us. What a contrast for this age of new learners and for the teacher and the taught. Mr. and Mrs Miller of the Campbellville Government School are my mentors and my tutors and they have been responsible for the person of who I am. May their souls rest in peace wherever they may have been laid to rest. god Bless all our Teachers. The UN must soon declare a World’s Teachers day in recognition of all Teachers and GURUS!.

  • Clyde Duncan  On January 2, 2013 at 6:28 am

    We need to expand this article and number them: Part 1, Part 2, and so on. I was talking to retired Senior Education Officer – Community High Schools, Clarence Bertie London [Mister CB] and he is one that could assist with expanding the list of teachers in Guyana. One of my most memorable teachers is Peter Homer [PMA Homer], retired Headmaster at Bedford Methodist, who subsequently opened his own private school, Wedgewood Junior, on Cummings Street, near First Street. I hope your readers keep adding to the list – teachers are a major influence on us, and society as a whole, especially in our formative years.

  • Bridgit A Sam-Bailey  On January 2, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Guyana’s teachers, in my childhood, were disciplinarians. They nurtured the discipline that was started at home. They taught us to value ourselves, and what we had around us. They were not materialistic. Education then was teacher-centred, and parents supported the teachers. The one teacher who made an impact on my life was the late Mrs Ruth Chalmers-Reid – “Miss Chalmers” – who taught me at St Patrick’s Anglican School, Reliance, Canje. I was, by all accounts, not the best student, but she must have seen some potential! She took time to teach me so much, and with my parents’ approval, would call for me after church on some Sundays and take me to her home where she lived with her parents. We remained in contact until she passed some years ago. In later life when I became a teacher I was able to transport the same level of care, positivity and ethos to my charges. Today, 17 years after retirement, many of my students are still in contact with me. Thanks to “Miss Chalmers”. I have no doubt that there are others who would share these sentiments.

    • Herman  On November 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      Dear Mrs Sam-Bailey,
      This is to record my appreciation for the kind sentiments expressed concerning ‘Miss Chalmers’, my late mom.
      I am indeed glad that she has had such a positive impact on your life !
      I must have inherited some of her ‘teaching genes’ also, as that is what I have spent much of my time doing over the years 🙂

      Best wishes.

      Herman Reid
      Professor, Saba University
      Caribbean Netherlands

  • N TEWARIE  On January 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    When I was at the Golden Grove Primary ( EC Demerara) School Under Mr Trotman,my teacher was a Mrs Joseph, i was in 3rd Standard and my friends were Marvin, Vibert ( from Nabaclis) and Seepaul Singh, I wonder if anyone remembers them? Then they called me Raj.
    Thanks
    ndatt@rogers.com

    • compton de castro  On January 14, 2013 at 10:24 pm

      raj
      sadly I cannot remember you….my name is compton de castro
      and my father had a grocery and hardware store even a parlour next to ansa cinema…where dem bugs used to bite in “pit” … saw many american movies
      Ana s cinema was burned down during the riots as the politicians divided the country…CHEDI and BURNHAM and DAGUIAR legacy….
      Instigated by UK influenced by USA
      The then president John F Kennedy did not wish to have another “communist”
      country in latin america. He made Mc Millian (british prime minister) send in the troops after suspending the constitution even after CHEDDI was elected with an overall majority. New elections were held under a PR (proportional representation) system which guaranteed Burnham and Daguiar forming a coalition government majority ….. Chedi was then in opposition.
      Another major political blunder by the BRITISH EMPIRE which was replaced with the AMERICAN empire…..

      The ROMANS “divide” to conquer and “unite” to rule.
      The BRITISH “unite” to conquer and “divide” to rule.

      Most of the BRITISH empire has been ceded to AMERICA with HRH QE2
      still head of the commonwealth nations….her ancestors were evicted from USA
      for refusing to pay royalty TAXES.

      If the truth of the history of GUYANA is to be written what I write above is as close
      to it as is possible. It is highly politically charged information but at 69 I feel I
      should bring “truth to power”…

      raj all I ask is for you to respond if you disagree with my perception of what really happened as am sure many have other opinions on the subject.
      I remain open minded on the subject.

      hope you can remember me and respond
      Thomas my twin brother exited the planet last year with “asbestosis” after 35 years as a trucker CANADA_AMERICA…you will more likely remember us as twins enteretaining the golden grove villages with our circus performances.

      kamptan my college name

  • Gerald Emmanuel Singh  On January 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    Teachers contribution to our lives will always be deemed significant at any level. I never had the privilege of attending high school, but the teachers I had at Novar Primary School[Mahaicony, ECD.]were some of the best in Guyana. The following are some of the teachers that planted seeds of success in my head prior to my departure from Novar Primary at age fifteen: Trs. Maylene DaSilva[RIP], Narine Rampersaud[Baker-RIP], Neil Singh, Frank Hope, Omadath Persaud, Clyde H. Sellers[Peace Corp, USA], Cecil Singh, Bramnarine Persaud[Brammie], BR Singh[BR] etc. When I “dropped out” of Novar School because I could’nt afford the fees[$25] for the College of Preceptors[CP] exam in 1972, teacher Baker reprimanded me in the public market square as only a caring and concerned teacher would do. He told me to return to school immediately or I would be sorry later in life. I promised him that I would return but I never did,[or did I?] and just keep hiding from him. Eventually I returned to school ten years later in 1982 at the City University of New York[CUNY] after passing my GED 1st try in 1981. Today, I am a Certified Public Accountant[CPA] in multiple state, and I teach Accounting at CUNY and St John’s University in NY. My eventual academic success is directly linked to the caring and professional teachers I had at Novar Primary, and I shall forever be grateful. A special thank you to teacher Baker, and Brammie for their math indoctrination at an early age. Thanks to all the teachers from Novar Primary School. Moreover, thank you to all teachers from Guyana, and the World over, for your committment and dedication to the teaching profession.
    Gerald E. Singh, gsingh@citytech.cuny.edu

  • compton de castro  On January 14, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    having read all those praises to the teaching profession I join in saluting their
    dedication and contribution to GUYANESE society over the decades.
    Am sure most of them did not do it for the “monetary reward” but more for the
    sharing of knowledge….with their students. Today all the information we need
    can be obtained “electronically” over the internet….just “GOOGLE” it is the answer my grandchildren receive….they have no excuse for “iliteracy”…
    sometimes I feel there is too much information available but schools all now have “internet” availability and in UK most homes have a computer with internet facilities….it is the future.
    Our world is shrinking as people become more aware of what is happening arround the world because of technological advances in the social media networks….guyanese on line a very good example of this in practice.

    I remain forever optimistic for the future not only of GUYANA but also ROW (rest of world)…technology is changing our planet hopefully for a better one..

    sincerely
    kamptan

  • Barbie Gibson  On January 25, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Br Raj… I, too, have to add my comments on Ms. Celeste Jaundoo…she was the best teacher ever, for she has left a mark on my soul. I will always remember her in great thoughts. Then there was teacher, Amna Mohamed, and Winston Seebaran…these are great teachers too. St. Joseph High School was a great school too. In those days I was knows as Babsie Persaud. Any of my friends around…please get in touch!!

  • David Hazell  On June 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    I`ll always remember my former Teachers at ST. Mary`s RC School in Georgetown. At a younger age and inexperienced we took a lot things for granted. But thats life hope they are all doing well. Any former students from the 50`s you can contact me.
    David Hazell.

  • Julian Evans  On June 27, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I would also like to pay special tribute to all of our dear teachers (past and present) who were all inspirational, parental and saw the potential in each one of us. While at Queenstown RC in Georgetown, Mrs. Bahadur, Mrs. Glasgow, Miss Fredericks and Teacher Assistant Mr. Duke did set the foundation in my life (left in 1977). I went on to South Georgetown Secondary and met the most supportive and remarkable teachers which I do have to mention – Mrs. Thompson (English Language and Literature), Mrs. VanRossum (Agricultural Science), Mrs. Perry (Food & Nutrition) and not forgetting Miss. Mickle (History) and Miss Punch (Geography). I got 8 subjects GCE & CXC with 2 distinctions and went on to do my B.Sc in Agricutural Science at the University of Guyana, followed by M.Sc in Forest Management at University of Aberdeen in the UK, Diploma in Management at University of East London, Level 4 Certificate Prepare to Teach in the LifeLong Sector at Newham College for Further Education, London. I was employed at the Guyana Forestry Commission as Deputy Commissioner of Forests for a number of years and was privileged to work with many international scientists in Guyana, Latin America, Caribbean, Africa and the United Kingdom, where I am currently living and working in Parks and Nature Conservation Management. All of my academic achievements were as a result of my dedicated teachers both at primary and secondary levels who saw the potential in me and ensure that I worked asidously to achieve such.
    My Quenstown RC (1968-1977) and South Georgetown friends (1977-1981) I would like to get in contact with you at julian.evans@islington.gov.uk or julianevans220@yahoo.co.uk

  • Norman Datt  On July 17, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    I was born at Nabaclis went to the Public School at Golden Grove (near the Esso Gas Station) My Neighbours were the Scotlands and on the other side was Harry Duxoo. Everyone in the area would remember the golden apple trees of Mr Mr Melbourne. Who-ever got there first in the early mornings, got the best ripe fallen fruits. I left Nabaclis and we moved to Bush Lot on the West Coast of Berbice.
    Guyana is still Guyana. From all my years of teaching in Guyana and Canada, I find our discipline was out standing and because of that our students excelled. We of the old school want kids to listen when we teach, the laze-faire attitude of the North American schools is a breeding ground for non-discipline, and its failing the kids. I say : SPARE THE ROD AND FAIL THE CHILD. I know a lot of people would disagree but that’s ok with me.

    I am not sure whether they used the whip at BHS or Queen’s College, but I’m sure they had detention and others deterrents for that elite group.
     
    Read more…. from Norman Datt comments on blog entry

  • Winston Lewis  On September 24, 2015 at 12:01 am

    I went to Campbellville Govt School. My headmaster Mr Miller and his wife Mrs Miller my 4th standard teacher. Mr Lewis my 5th standerd teacher and Mr Yacoob. They made me a very young adult.

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