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by Antonio Makeida
Hundreds of expressions of greetings poured in from residents in the community and on social media, following the tragic discovery of an elementary school principal who was found dead in his class early yesterday morning.
Denison Parker, who was reported to be in his late 60s and early 70s, is remembered by many including the nation’s top education officials as a great mathematician and disciplinarian.
Director of Education Claire Brown praised Parker as an exemplary teacher while expressing condolences on behalf of the Department of Education who for many years served as a teacher and principal for several other schools as well, including Potters Elementary, Villa Elementary and Claire Hall High School.
“The Department of Education and Sport is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of veteran teacher, Mr. Denson Parker. Mr. Parker dedicated his entire life to education. We believe his example as an educator should inspire teachers for generations to come.
“We certainly offer our condolences to his family, relatives, friends, school and everyone affected by the gift of his life,” Brown said yesterday.
Education Officer Rolston Nikiu also offered his condolences and remained firm that the beloved Temple Parker Academy in the Gray Hill area could survive this blow in its normal operations.
“We know Mr. Parker as a good teacher over the years…he was a man we could always relate to. I know this will be a hard blow to Temple Academy but as always I know the students will be resilient and see that the school is still moving forward.
“We express our condolences to his family and to the teachers and students here,” Niko added.
Principal of Greenbay Elementary, Timika Christian, recalled Parker’s stern demeanor which she believes has positively affected all students who have been in contact with the principal for a long time.
“Even if he had to teach all the classes in the school, he would do it completely without complaint. He wouldn’t have a situation where the children would be rambunctious when he wasn’t with them. He would involve all his children; even if he’s not around with them at the moment, they know.” What they must do.”
Jennings Elementary School principal Dennis Solomon, who was also at Temple Academy in the aftermath of the sad event, remembers Parker as a teacher who was willing to go above and beyond to ensure the success of his students.
“He was a stickler for discipline. He was a guy who wanted all these students to get it done and did everything he could to make sure that was done,” she said.
Judith Jarvis, a Temple Academy teacher, told the Observer that both pupils and parents were deeply affected by the loss because Parker was a natural teacher who cared deeply about his work.
“I talked to some of them. They were crying and their parents called me on the phone. He was very popular. And his ability to convey everything he was taught, I think he had the ability to, and make sure they understood exactly what was being taught,” she said.
Parker’s body, which immediately plunged the school into mourning, was discovered at around 6.45am yesterday by teacher and administrative staff Carlene Stewart, who told the Observer that Parker had indicated he was not feeling well on Monday.
However, he returned to school and resumed his usual duties after visiting the doctor in the afternoon.
Parker, a dedicated individual, usually stayed at Temple Academy in the evening to prepare lesson plans for the next day and sometimes returned to the school at night to make sure the complex was secured.
Stewart shared that Parker established a very close relationship with his staff and the school’s 43 students alike and demanded nothing less than personal and academic excellence.
The students were reportedly shaken up by the news and parents who had been dropping them off for regular morning classes were asked to take them home again.
All classes ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 6 have been canceled until further notice.
Police arrived at Temple Academy around 7.45am yesterday and although nothing was suspected of being wrong, investigations are still ongoing.
Parker has been involved in many activities outside of education to include cricket, softball and calypso. He went by the stage name “Lord Excelsior” and judged many Carnival calypso competitions over the years.
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