Barbadians who admire the “Uncle Jeff” persona would not recognise the “Master Jeff” who is in charge of the Alexandra School.
They would come face to face with an administrator who believed “leadership is war” and one who was prepared to “get down and dirty” with his perceived detractors, including teachers.
That’s how senior teacher Leslie Lett characterised Principal Jeff Broomes when he testified at the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra today.
He said the school was doing well “in spite of” Broomes, not “because of” him. Lett, who has taught at the St. Peter school since 1992, and became Head of the English Department on September 1, 2009, said there was “a shadow” between the two personas and that very often the principal’s staff experienced the unpleasant one.
“There is a shadow, so to speak, between the image of Uncle Jeff and the reality of Master Jeff. I think what confuses that is hubris, arrogance. Some people have said insecurity,” he said.
“It might be insecurity, I don’t know, probably he sees himself under threat and has to guard it, I do not know. I do not think that he is under any threat. I would think that it could be insecurity, it could be arrogance, my own thinking is that it is hubris.” Lett expressed surprised that Broomes could see his leadership of Alexandra as war.
“I think a leader should be able to foster consensus, should be able to nurture harmony, should be open to accepting views that are different that might hone your own idea, acceptance of divergent views,” he said.
“It is not to say that ultimately you do not have to take responsibility but surely an idea can be improved.”
The teacher said Broomes crushed the talents and ideas of “many people” at the school and that he wouldn’t wish the principal “on my worst enemy”.
“Teachers work hard and I think people have to understand when they say the school is doing this well that there is a profound difference between because of and in spite of, a very profound and vast difference. The school is doing well in spite of the leadership of Mr. Broomes,” he testified.
Lett also said the principal had questioned his concept of leadership”. “He said to me ‘I don’t need any … book on leadership, Jeff Broomes writes his own book’, and he said when he published it he was going to change the world.” (SC)