Vauxhall mourns murdered teacher
C-Ndre Jackson was looking forward to getting feedback on his theatre arts school-based assessment (SBA) on Sunday, but little did he know that the gunshots he heard in sections of east Kingston on Saturday night would prevent his teacher and mentor, Carl Samuels, from fulfilling that promise to him.
The 16-year-old Vauxhall High School student was among several who openly wept as he remembered Samuels, who was murdered while in the process of leaving the school’s compound about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Jackson said he was making his way to an event at another school nearby when he heard the gunshots and was devastated when he learnt that it was his teacher who died.
“I sent him my SBA the same day and he told me that he would give me my answer on Sunday, and then I heard that he passed,” said Jackson, a grade 11 student at the institution.
He said Samuels was like a father to him and started teaching him music from grade seven. He encouraged him in his decision to become a selector and taught him everything he knew about the entertainment industry.
“I would go and be around him and learn some of the steps in becoming a great selector, and now I am going to fulfil my career and make him proud,” he said, while trying to comfort a female student who was also weeping.
Students and staffers were overcome with grief during yesterday’s devotion at the school. Overtaken by a deep sense of loss, some fell to the ground, weeping uncontrollably.
“There is no person here who doesn’t feel, in a very profound way, the loss of this man,” said chairman of the school board, Christopher Honeywell.
His pleas for the students to be settled fell on deaf ears for a while as members of the school community were barely able to contain their emotions.
“We will find a way to go beyond today and to push through to better days. We will never forget the life and contribution of Carl and we will not allow it to go in vain. We will carry on,” he assured.
Samuels had been a teacher at the institution for more than 15 years, and according to the school’s principal, Prudence Brown Powell, he was “head cook and bottle washer”.
“He is the head of the performing arts department. He is also the grade 11 supervisor, he is head of the transfer committee, he is head of the graduation committee, he is head of the prize-giving committee, he is head of everything,” Brown Powell said.
Loss to teaching
Prior to his gruesome murder, he had been preparing school reports and was also making some speaker boxes for the school’s auditorium. The 36-year-old educator, who is a licensed firearm holder, managed to kill one of his attackers, 19-year-old Romaine Panton, a canteen worker of Miller Terrace in Kingston 16.
“For me, personally, I think education has suffered a significant loss. Carl cannot be replaced by anybody,” said Brown Powell, as tears streamed down her face.
She said the immediate plan is to find a teacher to take over his classes and to provide as much support to his widow, who is a vice-principal at the institution.
Classes were suspended yesterday as counsellors, religious leaders, residents, officials from the Ministry of Education, and police officers stayed throughout the day to offer support.
Kingston East and Port Royal Member of Parliament Phillip Paulwell said the praises for Samuels from communities surrounding the school have been loud and strong.
“The gunmen, we are told, are from our community, but we don’t support the gunmen, we support the school, we support decency, and we support the institution of learning,” he said as he appealed for persons with information to share it with the police.