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Maths man moulding minds for near 40 years

LEANNE TASHER, [email protected]

Maths man moulding minds for near 40 years

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WHETHER HE IS in the classroom or out, Adrian Clarke is a man with solutions. 

That’s because the mathematics teacher of almost 40 years knows he has the power to steer students away from a wayward path and he therefore takes his role as educator and disciplinarian seriously.

While the names and faces of students change over the years, Clarke’s commitment to his job does not.

The SUNDAY SUN met the cheerful 61-year-old at Springer Memorial Secondary School recently.

It was on October 4, 1977, that Clarke became the first male teacher at the all-girl institution, despite some scepticism from the Ministry of Education.

Although teaching was not his first career choice, Clarke said he fell in love with the profession and has never looked back.

 “I actually wanted to be a lawyer. I was telling myself that I would teach for two years before I go to study law . . . Those two years turned into a lot of years,” he said with a chuckle.

With a bachelor’s degree in math and psychology from England’s University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in hand, Clarke pursued the career with confidence. 

He said then principal Pamela Tudor was impressed with his credentials and gave him a chance.

“When she informed the ministry, they were not too keen. They thought, ‘How can you send a man to teach at a girls’ school?’ But she said she would vouch for me and I started.

“The staff saw it as something unique and they were very helpful. We speak of the motto here, Members One Of Another, and we talk about the Springer family. They made me feel welcome from the beginning,” he said.

It was not long before he began to reap the benefits of higher education. Once he had his foot in the door, several promotions and exciting opportunities followed.

“I was the only person with a degree in mathematics so automatically I became the head of the mathematics department and a member of the management team.

“. . . I also acted as deputy principal on two occasions. The last time was in 2014-2015. Again, I think that is something people thought they would never see, a male as deputy principal. So I felt good about that,” he said. 

When his parents migrated to England in the 1960s, Clarke was left in the care of his grandmother, Millicent Clarke, who lived in The City.

The twice-married father of seven said that his thirst for knowledge came from within, so his grandmother never had to force him to read.

“Every subject was my favourite subject. I just liked learning and reading. I even used to try writing my own stories and writing some poetry and things like that.

“I went to school at Wesley Hall. In those days there were two exams. There was a test in February called the screening test, where they would check out which children were ready for the Common Entrance Examination.

“I did the screening test at nine years old. I did the Common Entrance at ten in Class Three. I didn’t go to Class Four. From Wesley Hall I went to Harrison College,” he noted.

Clarke said he realised he had the ability to make maths easy while he was a student at Harrison College. Oftentimes, he said, his peers would approach him for help, even on occasions when he may have been absent for the particular lesson.

Now the devoted educator spends most of his time in front of the chalkboard. In addition to Springer Memorial, he also teaches for the Ministry of Education’s continuing education programme, and offers lessons on Saturdays. Though the hard work seems never-ending, Clarke said he believed it was worth it.

“The influence that I’ve had on people’s lives makes me proud. I’m always feeling good that I’ve been able to contribute to these persons’ lives and that they still remember me and appreciate me for it,” he said.