Teacher’s death shocks Charlemont High School

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Jamaica – STUDENTS and staff at Charlemont High School in St Catherine have been left searching for answers after the body of a male teacher was discovered Saturday morning in bushes in Barrett Hall, St Ann.
He is 35-year-old Tanijah Howell of Linstead, St Catherine.
Howell, who taught mathematics at the Linstead-based institution for over 10 years, was last seen on Friday when he turned up for work.
The school’s Principal Garth Gayle could not be reached for a comment yesterday as he was off the island, but Vice-Principal Jennifer Gidden told the Jamaica Observer that staff members are in a state of disbelief.
“The student body has not been officially informed yet because the next working day would have been tomorrow (today). Staff members are still in shock. We have a WhatsApp group and most of the teachers are in that group and we have been communicating,” Gidden said during a telephone interview.
The vice-principal said that staff learnt Howell was missing shortly after seven Saturday morning when she informed them after receiving a phone call from a friend. She said that the group immediately began to pray for his safe return. However, she said those prayers never came to fruition because she received a call at approximately 10:30 am informing her that Howell’s body was discovered by the police in the neighbouring parish.
The police did not give details about Howell’s death but the Observer has learnt that the teacher was killed while on a chartered transportation job in the parish, something he did in his spare time.
“We are all in shock; he is a Christian, he does not interfere with people. He’s a nice person, he’s a wonderful maths teacher. It is hard for us; it won’t be easy for us tomorrow (today) to talk to the children about it,” Gidden shared.
She said the school has been in dialogue with a team from the Education Ministry which will be assisting with grief counselling for students.
“We plan to have a general devotion and then we will move from there as the need arises with the different grief counselors that we have, with regards to his form class and his students,” she said.
Past student of Howell, David Harris, described him as a passionate teacher who went above and beyond what was professionally required of him to ensure that his students grasped what was being taught.
“Irrespective of who the student was and how they behaved, he always had this genuine attitude toward them. While other teachers would leave when their session was over, Mr Howell would linger around with students going over difficult formulas. He was genuine about what he did.
“Instead of operating with an iron fist he was always caring. We used to call him the math master because a lot of times when other teachers wouldn’t sign students to do CXC [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate] maths, they would go to Mr Howell and he would keep extra classes to get [them] ready. So he was loved by all who he came across,” Harris said.
Yesterday, posts on his Facebook page reflected sorrow and anger.
“Jah know Mr Howell….God not sleeping…you never deserve this sir…,” one person said.
Another post read: “Blasted wicked people on this earth. RIP [Rest in peace].”
— Kimone Francis

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