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AWRIGHT DEN – Principled heads

Corey Worrell

AWRIGHT DEN – Principled heads

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ON TUESDAY NIGHT, I was busy restringing my acoustic guitar while at the same time watching BBC World News on my laptop when my wife shouted: “Corey, come quick, you will want to see this.”
I rushed out of the dining room and into the living room to see what it was she wanted me to see. Honestly, I thought she was calling me to show me another achievement in our daughter’s developmental stage, but that wasn’t the case.
I looked up at the television and saw such a beautiful sight. As a parent, a youth leader, a concerned citizen and a teacher, the sight was something you wished you could see more often. What I saw pleased my heart; I was so happy; I felt so proud; I felt encouraged.
On my television set were six senior students from the Coleridge & Parry School being disciplined and taking responsibility for the actions: defacing a Transport Board bus with graffiti.
I want to publicly thank Mr Vincent Fergusson, the principal of the school, for being bold, firm and strong enough to do what he did.
It has been proven that the success of a school and the progress and development of its students is heavily dependent on the leadership that is shown by the principal and supported by the staff. This has been proven with St Leonard’s Boys’ School, Springer Memorial and Garrison Secondary, to name a few.
Some of the nation’s schools just received new principals and there is one school that I will be watching over the next five to ten years to see if this theory will be proven again. That school is Ellerslie and I believe that Mr Brathwaite, who trained me as a Star 4 Cadet, will be one of those principals who will continue the development of that school through strong leadership.
Schools often hide many of the heinous things practised and done within their establishments. As embarrassing as the schools’ leadership may feel, I believe if they allow the public to know what it is they face daily, they may receive greater support and encouragement from the public.
I believe I had a great principal in Major Barker when I was at Foundation. During my first few weeks of first form, our class had to remain after school to clean the walls, repaint the classroom and clean the desks of all the graffiti that we placed on them. 
Late attendance was also a problem back then. One morning, I was standing at the bus stop on the Silver Hill van route when I saw Major Barker’s car approaching.
He stopped the car next to me, asked me my name, wrote it in a book and said: “Make sure you get to school before the bell rings.”
That morning I learned that he drove the entire bus route, recording the names of other students who were awaiting transportation to take them to school. He saw a problem and he took the lead in finding a solution.
I want to offer two suggestions to the principals to consider. Our students are very creative and talented. The problem isn’t the creativity or talent; it is how, when and where it is used. I believe this needs to be channelled in the correct direction if we are to correct the problems.
There are students who love to fight and beat up others. Fighting isn’t the problem; it is when and where they are fighting. Instead of sending the children home, I would send them to join a boxing or martial arts club where they can legally fight and get back some licks.
Students who deface property with graffiti are generally artistic. The issue isn’t the art; it is where it is placed. I would enrol these kids in weekend internships with graphic artists. Another solution could be to identify a wall at the school where positive graffiti can be placed, similar to what can be seen on entering the Barbados Community College.
Bad leaders don’t make bad decisions; bad leaders make no decisions. I encourage our principals to be strong, don’t give up and try new techniques.
Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth youth ambassador. Email [email protected]