Tension first day on job
By Ricky Jordan | Fri, August 10, 2012 - 12:05 AM
Immediate hostility greeted drama teacher Carl "Alff" Padmore when he entered the Alexandra School eight years ago, and that was followed by ongoing tension between him and his department head, Gail Street-Jules.
Testifying to the commission of inquiry into the school’s industrial dispute at the Gymnasium of the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex yesterday, Padmore said on his first day while meeting fellow teachers at a staff meeting, he extended his hand to greet English head of department Margo Clarke, and was stunned when she did not take it and told him: “This is not how we do it, and Mr Broomes knows this.”
“I was shocked, and just stood there staring,” said Padmore, who got the job after seeing principal Jeff Broomes at a cricket match and inquiring about a vacancy.
Saying he had applied and had been interviewed by Broomes and a former board chairman of the school, Padmore added that throughout his seven-year tenure he was under pressure to “pick a side” between those who supported and did not support Broomes, and was told “Broomes was doing foolishness, which was never explained”.
He said his own view of the principal was that the school had won ten NIFCA Awards in drama under his watch; Broomes had helped students, including West Indies strike bowler Kemar Roach, who had been written off by some teachers as failures, and his programmes were designed for the betterment of the school.
Adding that Broomes had reinforced in him the importance of giving back to the community and helping the less fortunate, Padmore said there were clear attempts to boycott programmes designed by the principal, including a fund-raising pageant which was successful but got minimal support from the teachers.
“If I was seeking help for something Mr Broomes had a hand in, you’d hear ‘I’m not supporting that’, but if it was being done by another teacher, they were all for it,” he told the commission, adding that most of the older staff were against Broomes while mostly younger teachers were on his side.
Stating bluntly that he and Jules did not have a good rapport, Padmore said it stemmed particularly from Jules’ comment during his second interview for the post of temporary drama teacher.
“She said I am not her choice and she is not supporting me,” said Padmore, adding that even before this he could feel “a vibration that said you were branded as one who had come to Alexandra through the principal”.
Though stating that if there ever was a picture that could be painted of Hell, he felt it at the Alexandra School, Padmore said he had personally achieved good results although his style of teaching was considered unorthodox by some teachers.
He also clarified the belief that he got preferential treatment in terms of leave from the school. He explained that the three-month leave granted to him in January 2010 was because he was asked to be part of Government’s mobilization drive for earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
He said he wrote a letter to deputy principal Beverley Neblett-Lashley on January 15 seeking leave until March, and this was followed by another letter to Lashley from Parliamentary Secretary Irene Sandiford-Garner.
Padmore said he would recommend that Broomes continue at the school, since he was a good leader who was open to others’ opinions although he had a stubborn streak.
“I don’t like upheaval but I like good leadership . . . . Mr Broomes made his own interests secondary and helped others. I have seen this,” he said.
- Editor's Choice