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Hatfield Primary teachers comfort each other following colleague's death

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND Observer staff reporter sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, August 09, 2012    

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HATFIELD, Manchester — Members of staff at the Hatfield Primary and Junior High School in Manchester yesterday sought solace among each other at a prayer meeting at the school as they mourned the death of one of their teachers, Novia Reid.

The 44-year-old Reid, who was a science teacher in the school's junior department, died when her Toyota Corolla motorcar collided with a Toyota Altezza along the Melrose Hill main road in the parish. She had been teaching at the school since 1993.

The prayer group, joined by Reid's husband Tidal Reid and members of the Guidance Counselling Unit of the Ministry of Education (MOE) Region 5 office in Mandeville, used the occasion to reflect, encourage and comfort each other.

Joan McFarlane, principal at the school, told the Jamaica Observer that it was the first time that the school had lost a "family member" in that fashion.

"I am still in denial. I am holding unto the hope that she is still alive," she said.

"It's a family here. Every family has its ups and downs, but in the end we are always there for each other," McFarlane added.

She said since the students are on summer break, there was a high possibility that the counsellors might have to conduct more counselling sessions when the new school year begins in September.

Reid's husband, in the meantime, said that being among his wife's former colleagues at the gathering gave him an insight into the "level of connection" that his wife had with other staff members.

"People who happen to know her admire her for being the pleasant person she was," he told the Observer.

The couple's over 20-year relationship has produced two daughters — both of whom are presently vacationing in the United States.

He said his daughters, both of whom are in high school, have taken the news hard and surmised that it would be "a long road ahead".

Meanwhile, the late teacher — a graduate of Church Teachers' College, the University of the West Indies and Northern Caribbean University — was also actively involved with the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), which described her as a "dedicated" member.

Adolph Cameron, secretary general of the association, said that she served as the JTA's contact teacher for the school for a number of years. She was a representative to the JTA's National General Council, the second highest decision-making body.

She was also a member of the JTA's Central Executive, a delegate to the JTA's Annual Conference, and chairman of the Study Circle Committee, which is responsible for the membership education programme in the association.

Chesley Smith, one of Reid's colleagues, lauded the late teacher for her role in lobbying for them at the JTA.

"She was a person who was alert and kept us abreast of everything," he said.

"The school feels it very much. All in all she was a fine lady. I was completely shocked. I was watching the Grand Gala when I heard and nothing else interests me at that point. We work together here as a team," he said.

Kennecy Haynes-Davidson, one of the education ministry's counsellors, said that the grieving teachers can get past the tragedy if appropriate steps are taken.

"Schools bounce back very well as long as the process of grief is managed properly," she said.

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