– ads –
by Makeida Antonio
Hundreds of tributes poured in from residents in the community and on social media, following the tragic discovery of an elementary school principal found dead in his classroom early yesterday morning.
Denson Parker, reported to be in his late 60s and early 70s, is remembered by many including the nation’s top education officials as a great mathematician and discipline.
Director of Education Claire Brown praised Parker as an exemplary teacher while expressing his condolences on behalf of the Department of Education who for many years served as a teacher and principal for many other schools as well, including Potters Elementary School, Villa Elementary, and Claire Hall High School.
“The Department of Education and Sports is deeply saddened to learn of the death of veteran teacher Mr. Denson Parker. Mr. Parker has devoted his entire life to education. We believe that his example as a teacher should inspire teachers for generations to come.
“We certainly extend our condolences to his family, relatives, friends, school and everyone who has been affected by the gift of his life,” Brown said yesterday.
Education Officer Rolston Nikkyu also offered his condolences and remained adamant that the beloved Gray Hill-area Temple Parker Academy could survive such a blow in its normal operations.
“We know Mr. Parker as a good teacher over the years…He was a man we can always relate to. I know this will be a hard blow to Temple Academy but as usual I know the students will be resilient and see that the school is still going forward.
“We express our condolences to his family, teachers and students here,” Niko added.
Green Bay Elementary School Principal Timica Christian recalled Parker’s tough behavior that she believes has positively affected all students who have been in contact with the principal for a long time.
“Even if he had to teach all the classes in the school, he would do so completely without complaint. He wouldn’t have a situation where the kids would be naughty when he wasn’t with them. He would involve all his kids; Christian commented, even if he’s not with them at the moment, they know What they should do.”
Jennings Elementary School Principal Dennis Solomon, who was also at Temple Academy in the aftermath of the sad event, remembers Parker as a teacher who was willing to go above and beyond to ensure the success of his students.
“He was a stickler for discipline. He was a guy who wanted all these students to achieve and he did his best to make sure that was done,” she said.
Judith Jarvis, a teacher at Temple Academy, told the Observer that both pupils and parents were deeply affected by the loss because Parker was a natural-born teacher who cared deeply about his work.
“I spoke to some of them. They were crying and their parents called me on the phone. He was very popular. And his ability to impart everything he was taught, I think he had the ability to, making sure they understood exactly what was being taught,” she said.
Parker’s body, which promptly plunged the school into mourning at about 6.45 a.m. yesterday, was discovered by teacher and administrator Carlin Stewart, who told the Observer that Parker indicated he was unwell on Monday.
However, he returned to school and resumed his usual duties after visiting the doctor in the afternoon.
Parker, a dedicated individual, would usually stay at Temple Academy in the evenings to prepare lesson plans for the next day and occasionally would return to school at night to make sure the pool was secured.
Stewart shared that Parker forged a very close relationship with both his staff and the school’s 43 students and demanded nothing less than personal and academic excellence.
The news from the students was reportedly shaken and parents who were dropping them off for the usual morning classes were asked to take them home again.
All classes from Kindergarten to Grade 6 have been canceled until further notice.
Police arrived at Temple Academy at about 7.45am yesterday, and while nothing was suspected of being wrong, investigations are still ongoing.
Parker has been involved in many activities outside of education to include cricket, softball and calypso. He went by the stage name “Lord Excelsior” and has refereed numerous Carnival calypso competitions over the years.
– ads –