Principal distraught at sudden passing of veteran teacher
Petersfield High School where educator Charmaine James taught for more than 30 years. (Photo: Kimberley Peddie)

WESTMORELAND, Jamaica – Principal of the Petersfield High School in Westmoreland, Roan Green, said he froze when he got news of the sudden passing of one of his teachers, Charmaine James.

James, who was the head of the Spanish Department and taught English at the institution, died on Sunday afternoon after reportedly falling ill at Church.

Green told OBSERVER ONLINE that the news of her passing is "shocking" as the educator was present at school last week, and showed no sign of illness.

"I would have received a call from my VP [Vice Principal] that Miss James had passed. I was shocked, because I spoke to her. I interacted with Miss James, Friday afternoon," a distraught Green said.

When OBSERVER ONLINE visited the institution on Monday, staff members were locked in a session with grief counsellors from the Ministry of Education, who sought to comfort them.

Green said the situation is rather difficult for the afternoon shift teachers, because they did not get a chance to say their goodbyes to the educator many deemed as humble and pleasant.

"They are shocked, they are crying, they are actually mourning her loss," the Principal said, noting that he had informed the parents last night via WhatsApp to keep the children home, on Monday. This, he said, would allow the teachers to mourn as many worked with her and were taught by her.

James served the institution for 30 years. She died a day after celebrating her 50th birthday.

READ: Petersfield High teacher dies day after 50th birthday

Meanwhile, Principal Green said the students will be back at school on Tuesday, and plans are underway to provide grief counselling as well.

"We are trying to get speakers right now to come in on both shifts just to speak with them, and ensure they are also catered to as well," Green disclosed.

One of James' past students, Caydonia Young, is deeply saddened by her passing.

"She taught me Spanish in first and second forms. She was very humble, quiet, but a no-nonsense person," she told OBSERVER ONLINE. "She would go the extra mile to ensure that her students understood what was being taught."

In the meantime, Principal Green has expressed condolences to James' immediate family.

"We at Petersfield High School understand what she means to us. I know what she means to her immediate family. She is a treasure to them. On behalf of the school I must say sincerest condolences to her family, the school family and all her loved ones. I know it's a very hard process we're indulging in and I know it will take years for some to come to terms, with her passing," Green said.

Kimberley Peddie

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