Principal of the Tarrant High School, Paul Hall, yesterday said that the passing of English language teacher Donnalee Wright has dealt a devastating blow to both students and educators at the rapidly improving institution.
Wright is the fifth educator to pass away in a seven-day period. She reportedly suffered a stroke on Sunday, two weeks after telling her colleagues she wasn’t feeling well on Teacher’s Day. Hall told THE STAR that he was shaken up by the news as Wright had endeared herself to the Tarrant family with her “big heart” and “total commitment”.
“It is really devastating, being the type of person she was, who was very jovial and always giving jokes. Quite a number of persons were attached to her,” Hall said. “She was a very dedicated teacher. The day after she took ill, she went to the doctor and got some time off from work, but she wanted to come back in because she wanted to interface with our grade 11 students getting ready for CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate). She was a very outspoken person, very honest and outspoken and that is what I liked about her the most.”
He also said that Wright helped to transform Tarrant High academically and that her legacy will live on for years to come.
“If she wasn’t getting good grades, she would complain openly and always came up with strategies to improve the students’ grades,” he said. “We got very good passes from her. She was somebody who was very concerned about her children. This year some of the students have been a little bit tardy in terms of their SBAs (school based assessments), and I can tell you, she went all out to ensure that they completed their SBAs. We are looking for some good results from her students this year,” he said.
Hall also recalled that Wright advocated for the staff room to receive AC units. He told her that they did not have the money for that.
“She said to me don’t worry and that she was going to talk to somebody. I got a call about two days after and the person invited me to a meeting and we were able to get majority funding to install the AC units. So she was always looking out for the welfare of her colleagues and students,” he said. Hall said he was moved by the outpouring of emotions at the school on Tuesday when news broke about Wright’ passing.
“I was like ‘Wow, this lady really impacted the school. Her legacy and what she did for the school in such a short period of time will never be forgotten,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Education and Youth, Fayval Williams, expressed condolences to the immediate families and school communities of the educators who have died recently.
Williams, in a media release, shared that she was deeply saddened by the news and expressed an appreciation for their work done in educating and nurturing Jamaican children.
“Their inspirational guidance and dedicated service were well appreciated, especially in the discipline they brought to their subject areas and how they interacted with students, parents and colleague educators,” Williams said. In addition to Wright, the other educators who have passed are: Gregory Williams, a mathematics teacher at Portmore Community College; Vere Technical High School’s Principal Antoinette Banton-Ellis; Ann-Marie Johnson-Lindo, vice-principal of Duncan’s All-Age in Trelawny; and Carlos Gordon of One Way Prep School in Kingston.