MANDEVILLE – The Glenmuir High School community in Clarendon on Saturday March 26 celebrated the dedicated service of its retiring principal Clement Radcliffe, who headed the institution for some 28 years.
At a lively ceremony held on the school grounds, featuring performances in song and dance and a thrilling demonstration of ball-skill from the Glenmuir football team, friends, students, teachers and other colleagues gave stirring speeches and told humorous and heartwarming stories about the man many regard as among the island’s leading educators.
Mr. Radcliffe, who is known as an advocate of sports in schools, was hailed by Minister of Transport and Works, and Member of Parliament for Central Clarendon, Hon. Mike Henry, “for transitioning (Glenmuir) from one where the (sole) focus was on academics to show that students could achieve success in academics as well as sports”.
He also lauded his community work, especially as it related to assisting at-risk youth. “As a representative, you consulted with me many times as to how we could guide children, who may have been going astray. I wish you the best for the future; quality is what you give,” Mr. Henry said.
Acting Principal of the school known for winning various academic and sports awards, Monacia Williams, recounted many light and memorable moments with her former boss.
She said he was an interesting mix of strictness and good humour, and though frank, he was always caring. “Over time, I realized that he had a merciful heart. No matter how many times he had to talk to the same person about the same unacceptable behaviour, he had it in his heart to forgive. He led by example, and he empowered us to become leaders,” she stated.
Deputy Head Girl, Nicole Wallace, in her tribute, gave humorous accounts of how students would alert each other when the past principal was in the vicinity. She noted, however, that despite the fearful respect that the students had for Mr. Radcliffe, “we could still approach him on a one to one basis."
“By his own example, he has proven that we can put our best out there and be the best we can be. He also taught us to be confident and proud of our school. He was the type of person, who would encourage his students, even if it was just to lighten someone’s day,” Nicole said.
Guest speaker and President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Hon. Mike Fennel, highlighted Mr. Radcliffe’s contribution to sport, especially during the period when he served as head of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA).
He said Mr. Radcliffe, during his tenure, provided leadership, which ensured that school sport was maintained at a very high level, in keeping with the ethics of fair play and honesty.
“He kept promoting them, and that became the hallmark of school sport. We need to use the example of Mr. Radcliffe leadership, and examine ourselves and our values and attitudes,” Mr. Fennel said.
Other tributes came from past student and Parliamentarian, Dr. Omar Davies, who lauded the past principal as an icon in education and President-elect of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA,) Paul Adams, who said Mr. Radcliffe exemplified the best of the teaching profession.
Lord Bishop of Jamaica, Rev. Dr. the Hon. Alfred Reid, also hailed Mr. Radcliffe on a job well done. “You have kept the flag flying high, and you are leaving behind a tremendous legacy for those who come after to follow,” he stated.
The guest of honour, in his response, credited the success the school enjoyed during his tenure to the work of the past students, the staff, and business community.
He implored the teachers not to measure their effectiveness as educators by the love shown to them by parents, as more is being demanded from the profession.
Mr. Radcliffe said he enjoyed his years at Glenmuir and was proud of his contribution to the teaching profession. “This has been a good life,” he stated.
Mr. Radcliffe, who officially retires next month, is Deputy Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education. He spent some 50 years at Glenmuir as student, teacher and principal.
By GARFIELD L. ANGUS