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‘Momma Robb’ eulogised as a well-rounded educator

Published:Thursday | March 17, 2022 | 12:06 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer
The Garvey Maceo High School choir performs in tribute to Ann-Marie Robb on Sunday.
The Garvey Maceo High School choir performs in tribute to Ann-Marie Robb on Sunday.
The Garvey Maceo High School culture club doing a skit titled ‘Teacher Stress’ in tribute to their late teacher, Ann-Marie Robb, as the school celebrated her life in music, drama and dance on Sunday.
The Garvey Maceo High School culture club doing a skit titled ‘Teacher Stress’ in tribute to their late teacher, Ann-Marie Robb, as the school celebrated her life in music, drama and dance on Sunday.
Ann-Marie Robb, late teacher of Garvey Maceo High School.
Ann-Marie Robb, late teacher of Garvey Maceo High School.
Miguel Ford and Isheba Daniels, members of the culture club at Garvey Maceo High, celebrate the life of late teacher Ann-Marie Robb in dance on Sunday.
Miguel Ford and Isheba Daniels, members of the culture club at Garvey Maceo High, celebrate the life of late teacher Ann-Marie Robb in dance on Sunday.
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Soothing music, melodious singing and vivacious drama performances catapulted into an evening of arts and entertainment in memory of arts enthusiast and Garvey Maeco High School teacher, Ann-Marie Robb. Robb, who worked at the institution in Vernamfield, Clarendon, for 14 years, died on February 6 after a brief illness.

Robb honed her skills as the school’s choir director, and was at the helm of its culture club. She was also remembered for leading the school to several Jamaica Cultural Development Commission wins, and its grand transition on to Television Jamaica’s All Together Sing – a competition featuring secondary school choirs.

Stakeholders said Robb had a close bond with her students, some of whom referred to her as “Momma Robb”. Tributes spoke of her warm smile, comical demeanour and her ability to dance her way through anything.

The sweet sounds of music and skilful playing by the school’s culture club band did little to lift the sombre mood that engulfed the school as students, teachers and other members of staff eulogised Robb, whom they say was the life of any party.

An emotional principal, Erica Ewbanks, told The Gleaner that she shared a special relationship with Robb, whom she categorised as an excellent teacher, who epitomised the notion of a well-rounded educator.

“We can never, ever replace her. We can fill the vacancy, but we can never replace Ann Robb. There was only one Robb. Without her, it’s going to be difficult. Every night I go to my bed I play back a voice note, and it’s so good that she had shared all of those voice notes.”

One of such voice notes was played during the service, in which an enthusiastic Robb laughed and shared how she had won a dance competition in May Pen, the parish capital.

CARRYING ON LEGACY

Ewbanks said the team is now tasked with carrying on Robb’s legacy, and will be embarking on several activities in her memory. Pointing to a trophy placed next to an enlarged photo of Robb, the principal said, “We gave her a trophy because this is the end of the show for her, but her legacy will live on.”

Dian Fenton-Thompson, the school’s acting vice-principal, remembered Robb as one who was always there to offer support. Similar sentiments were shared by Andreina Mason, also acting vice-principal, who added: “Her vibe was just so infectious. The staffroom was a nest – always buzzing with excitement when Ann Robb came in there. We had no choice but to feel delighted.”

Francine Rochester, principal of Gravel Hill Primary School in the parish, said Robb’s true persona was on display during the search for missing colleague, primary school teacher Natalie Dawkins, last year. Robb spearheaded the search for Dawkins who was abducted from her home on March 30. Her decomposed remains were later discovered in bushes on April 8.

Last August, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association publicly honoured Robb for her role in the search for Dawkins. She was awarded in absentia with a special Heroic Deed Award.

“She never wavered [during the search for Dawkins], she kept us in stitches when our bodies were stretched beyond limits. She always had a word for our weary, parched souls as we trekked through fields and bushes, from Clarendon through to St Catherine. Her indomitable spirit never waned,” said Rochester.

Robb, predeceased by her husband, police corporal Dave Robb, is survived by her two children, Dave and Davia.

olivia.brown@gleanerjm.com