Temple Academy Principal remembered as ‘dedicated disciplinarian’

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Staff and students at Temple Academy were devastated to learn that much-loved Principal Dinson Parker had been discovered dead in his classroom early Tuesday morning (Photos by Observer’s Gemma Handy)
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By Makeida Antonio

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Hundreds of tributes poured out from residents in the community and on social media, following the tragic discovery of a primary school principal found dead in his classroom early yesterday morning.

Dinson Parker, who was reportedly in his late 60s to early 70s, is being remembered by many including the country’s top education officials as a great mathematician and disciplinarian.

Director of Education Clare Browne lauded Parker as an exemplary educator while expressing condolences on behalf of the Ministry of Education which he had served for many years as teacher and principal of several other schools too, including Potters Primary, Villa Primary and Clare Hall Secondary.

“The Ministry of Education and Sports is greatly saddened to learn about the passing of veteran educator Mr Dinson Parker. Mr Parker dedicated his entire life to education. We believe that his example as an educator should inspire teachers for generations to come.

“We certainly offer condolences to his family, relatives, friends, school and all who were touched by the gift of his life,” Browne said yesterday.

Education Officer Rolston Nickeo also offered his condolences and remained firm that Parker’s beloved Temple Academy of the Gray Hill area could survive this blow to their normal operations.

“We know Mr Parker as a solid teacher over the years … he was a man we could always call upon. I know that this is going to be a hard blow to Temple Academy but as usual I know the students will be resilient and see that the school is still moving forward.

“We express our condolences to his family and to the teachers and the students here,” Nickeo added.

Principal of Greenbay Primary School Temika Christian recalled Parker’s stern demeanour which she believes positively affected all students who came into contact with the long-standing headmaster.

“Even if he had to teach all of the classes in the school, he would do just that without complaining. He would not have a situation where the children are rowdy when he’s not with them. He would engage all of his children; even if he’s not there in the moment with them they know what they should be doing,” Christian commented.

Principal of Jennings Primary School Denise Solomon, who was also at Temple Academy in the wake of the sad event, remembered Parker as an educator who was willing to go above and beyond to ensure that his students were successful.

“He was a stickler for discipline. He was a man who wanted all of these students to achieve and he went all out to make sure that was done,” she said.

Temple Academy teacher Judith Jarvis told Observer that both pupils and parents were deeply affected by the loss as Parker was a natural teacher who cared deeply about his work.

“I spoke with some of them; they were crying and their parents called me on the phone. He was extremely popular. His ability to convey whatever it was that he was teaching, I believe he has the aptitude for that, making sure that they understood exactly what was being taught,” she said.

The discovery of Parker’s body which immediately plunged the school into mourning was made at around 6.45am yesterday by teacher and administrative staff member Carlene Stewart, who told Observer that Parker indicated he was not feeling well on Monday.

However, he returned to school and resumed his regular duties following a doctor’s visit in the afternoon.

A dedicated individual, Parker normally stayed at Temple Academy in the evenings preparing lesson plans for the following day and sometimes came back to the school at night to ensure that the compound was secured.

Stewart shared that Parker held a very close relationship with his staff and the 43 students of the school alike and demanded nothing short of personal and academic excellence.

Students were reportedly shaken by the news and parents who were dropping them off for the usual morning classes were told to take them home again.

All classes ranging from kindergarten to grade six have been cancelled until further notice.

Police arrived at Temple Academy at around 7.45am yesterday and, while foul play is not suspected, investigations remain ongoing.

Parker was involved in several activities outside of education to include cricket, softball and calypso. He went by the stage name ‘Lord Excelsior’ and judged several Carnival calypso competitions over the years.

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