The Jeff Broomes Barbadians have been introduced to over the past month is not an accurate portrayal of the Alexandra School principal.
That’s the view of Vernell Woods, an English teacher at the school for the past six years, who said her friendship with Broomes had not muddied her evidence before the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra.
Woods, while being examined by lawyer Hal Gollop, counsel for the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union, said the tribunal’s evidence thus far was only showing one side of Broomes and that she had decided to come and give another side.
Gollop: “Did you seek to come to the commission or did somebody ask you to come? Did you come of your own free will and accord?”
Woods: “Yes I did.” Gollop: “And what did you see as the reason for coming.”
Woods : “I want to say that Mr. brooms’ contribution to the school is valuable … The picture out there is that they are only showing one side of him.”
Gollop: “You said the picture out there is only showing one side of Mr. Broomes…, when did this picture emerge?
Woods: “Through this process.”
Gollop: “Which process?”
Woods: “This, well this commission of enquiry.”
Woods, who said she took a salary cut when she gave up her position as a senior teacher at St. Lucy Secondary when she got the job at Alexandra, said Broomes made her no promises and suggested her testimony was not part of her way of paying him back.
She said she saw a vacancy for an English Literature teacher at the St. Peter school and after applying and being interviewed twice for the post she was happy when she landed the job.
“It gave me a chance to broaden my teaching experience. Since I left university I had never taught English Literature and I wanted to do that… There was only one (fifth form) class and there was a teacher already,” she said.
“I taught Literature in the junior school at St. Lucy, I didn’t teach it to the exam level because there were not enough students at the time. So when I saw an ad for a teacher of literature somewhere else I took it.”
Gollop: “You went where your friend Mr. Broomes was.”
Woods: “Mr. Broomes is my friend yes.”
Gollop: “So you were prepared to give up salary and position to go with your friend Mr. Broomes at the Alexandra School.”
Woods: “I gave up position and salary to go to the Alexandra School where I would have a chance to explore my teaching of literature.”
Gollop: “Do you not consider that those facts would cause any reasonable person to question why the decision was taken.”
Woods: “No I don’t think it’s unusual.”
The teacher said there were times when she thought about leaving Alexandra, but that the reception she received from her students made her rethink such a move.
She added, however, that over the last years she found the environment at Alexandra “uncomfortable” and that the camaraderie among teaches at St. Lucy was better. (SC)