Living things, the disabled and special needs children were all passions of teacher Ashantio Sealy in life. In death, his school, the Ellerton Special Unit, today celebrated his memory by renaming the school’s greenhouse in his honour.
Principal Donna Allman recalled that it was Sealy’s idea to construct the greenhouse, as he had been not just a teacher of special education, but founder of the Junior Achievers and the 4H Club at the school.
“It was Ashantio who conceptualised the idea to construct a greenhouse to protect the plot of land from the inquisitive green monkey population with whom we share this space. He, along with Mrs. Heather Wiggins, formed a formidable force when it came to sourcing funds and materials.
“Within months of constructing the shed, we were reaping okras, sweet peppers, beans, lettuce, cassava, and a variety of herbs,” she said, recalling that he had presented her with a gift of some of the produce.
Noting that the project has since been upgraded from a shed to a greenhouse, she said the school had been blessed by the presence of the green space and it was their vision to transform the space to include more shaded and fruit trees, benches and tables for students and staff.
Principal and former District Officer, Cheryl Sargeant-Speede, recalled Sealy’s “devotion to duty, his pastoral care and genuine love for his pupils” in her tribute.
Sealy’s father, Samuel Sealy, in a heartfelt address thanked the school for the consideration in renaming the greenhouse after his son.
“It is not an easy thing to do to sit and listen to all these words of praise, but you have profoundly touched me this morning… I listened to everyone here, who has spoken earlier, it was like Ashantio has been resurrected.
“It has been a form of resurrection to me and I dear say to my family because everything that you expressed has been so clear to me, has demonstrated what kind of guy Ashantio was,” he stated.
In thanking the school for allowing his son’s memory to live on, Samuel admonished those present to teach their children to be good and to be respectful of those with special challenges.
He said special needs children were often those who were targeted and it was up to the adults to show the kind of love that they wanted children to express, just as his son had done.
Sealy’s mother, Judith cut the ribbon to declare the greenhouse officially opened, while his sister Shari Grant accompanied principal Allman in revealing the plaque bearing his name. His father and brother, Akoma, then planted one of the first fruit trees, the soursop, in his honour. (LB)