Howard Cooke Primary struggles to cope with vice-principal’s death on first day
IT WAS not a happy first day for the staff and students at the Howard Cooke Primary School in Montego Bay, St James, yesterday, as they struggled to come to grips with the death of vice-principal Veronica Headley Jennings, who was supposed to have taken over as acting principal for the start of the new school year.
Dave Scott, the school’s principal, who should have gone off on vacation leave, was asked by the Ministry of Education to remain at the helm until alternative arrangements are made.
Yesterday, Scott told his teachers and students that the death of Headley Jennings has left a huge void in the life of the institution, noting that her life and work has given credence to the high regards in which the school is held.
“Mrs Jennings has been the backbone of this institution from its inception, and at times I think that she would do anything, even given her life, for the institution,” Scott said, while addressing students, teachers and parents at the school’s general devotion yesterday.
“And so we must honour her life and her work here and make sure that we keep her family in our hearts and in our minds,” he added.
Headley Jennings died at hospital on August 29, following a period of illness.
“One thing is certain, our dear Mrs Jennings will be greatly missed,” he said of the last foundation member of staff for the school, which officially opened its doors in 1989.
“All of us will be sharing the experience in different ways. Some may choose to smile, some may choose to just be in a sombre mode, some may choose to cry ... . No matter what you choose to do, it is all good,” Scott said.
Despite expressing sadness at the loss, Scott admitted that the untimely death of Headley Jennings had robbed him of his much-earned and needed vacation break.
“I agreed to do so, even though I was really tired and wanted the rest. I am feeling a bit rejuvenated, based on the fact that we have to do what we have to do, and where the Father leads, one has to follow. So I am back here, still mourning along with the school community,” Scott explained.
Grief counsellors from the Ministry of Education were at the school yesterday offering comfort and support to the students.