The St Jago High school community is mourning the sudden death of Deidre Campbell, a 40 year-old history and sociology teacher known for her bubbly personality, dedication to her students, her unfaltering kindness and big-hearted acts of charity.
The mother of two sons, aged 14 and 4, was described as being bright and bubbly, one who would “always ah skin her teeth” without even the slightest encouragement. She died suddenly on Sunday, casting a dark pall over the St Jago High School community.
"Even though she was sick, it was hard to assess because she was always so bubbly. She had visited the doctor on Wednesday and Sunday. She said that the doctors said she had gastroenteritis. She died sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, she fell off the bed and her son found her in the morning," Cherene Anderson, her best friend and fellow teacher at St Jago High, told OBSERVER ONLINE.
Deidre-Ann Rashida Campbell grew up in Sherwood Forest in Portland before migrating to live in the Kingston Metropolitan Area. Campbell, when asked why she left her beautiful home parish, would always joke: “Portland nuh have no nightlife”.
"She was an awesome person, a brave person. She is always energised, she loves to laugh, and she was a passionate person. She was a mastermind at getting what she wanted, if she decide she wants something, she ah go work hard to get it," Anderson said.
Anderson said even though there was never a dull moment with her late friend, Campbell was a competent, highly motivated educator who loved children.
"She was a go-getter, in terms of the job, she would go out of her way to make sure the children got what they needed in terms of exams, she went all out for her students beyond the gates of St Jago; she even supported their businesses. Another thing is that she loved her (biological) children beyond life, the same unconditional love God has for us, she had that for her children, they got the best of everything," Anderson said.
"She sacrificed her summers – you know how teacher's salary go – but she made sure they got the best of everything. She spent time with her sons, she was a co-parenting mother, she had a good relationship with the fathers of her sons," she added.
Campbell was also indispensable in offering support at school functions, organising fund-raising for staff retreats, and events such as graduations. She was particularly helpful to the vice principal, Careen James-Barnett, who was simply devastated by the educator's sudden death.
Anderson said that the late educator was a bonafide live wire, explaining that "she was drama when it comes to Sports Day".
"She was the leader for Nuttall, she know every athlete, she know dem ability, and if you're not in Nuttall, you and her anno friend! She no waan talk to nobody else, almost single-handedly, she organise Nuttall house fi mek sure they were the best. She was drama when it come to Sports Day," Anderson said.
Campbell is survived by a brother, a sister, and her two sons.
She was among three teachers who passed suddenly in as many days.
Also on Sunday, Petersfield High School in Westmoreland was plunged into mourning following the death of its modern languages teacher, Charmaine James.
On Friday, Desrene Steer, 48, a third grade teacher at Braeton Primary died suddenly after reporting to family that she wasn’t feeling well.