KINGSTON, Jamaica— The island’s education sector is still reeling from the passing of five educators over the six-day period from May 11 to 16, at least two of them suddenly.
Minister of Education and Youth, Fayval Willams, has expressed “deep sadness” and extended condolences to the immediate families and school communities of the five educators.
Williams, in a statement Tuesday afternoon, noted the passing of mathematics lecturer at the Portmore Community College, Gregory Williams, who died on May 11; principal of the Vere Technical High School, Antoinette Banton-Ellis, who died May 12; Ann Marie Johnson Lindo, vice principal of the Duncans All-Age School in Trelawny, who also died on May 12; Carlos Gordon, a grade 6 teacher of One Way Preparatory School in Kingston, who passed on May 14; and Donnalee Wright, of the Tarrant High School in St Andrew, who died Monday, May 16.
The minister described their deaths as “tragic blows to their families”.
“The sudden death of our teachers whose dedicated service covered the primary to the tertiary level has also been a big shock to the education system,” Williams stated.
She noted that Banton-Ellis gave 32 years of service to education, starting at Cross Primary and Junior High as a pre-trained teacher and had worked at a number of other schools before joining Vere Technical High as principal on October 1, 2017 where she served until her untimely death.
Gordon taught at the One Way Prep School for 16 years covering Grades 4, 5 and 6, while Johnson Lindo was vice principal at Duncans Primary and All-age since 2016, having first joined the staff in 1998. She taught general subjects to grades 4, 5 and 6 with a special passion for mathematics and science Williams said.
She shared that Gregory Williams joined the staff of the Portmore Community College in September 2008 as an assistant lecturer. In 2016 he was appointed permanently as a lecturer. He taught mathematics in the associate degree programmes at the college.
Wright has taught English language across several grades since 2019.
“Their inspirational guidance and dedicated service were well appreciated, especially in the discipline they brought to their subject areas and how they interacted with students, parents and fellow educators,” Williams said.
Representatives from the Ministry’s Guidance and Counselling Unit have been meeting with the schools’ administrations, offering counselling and other support.