The generosity of the immediate community and past students were two of the reasons given by founder of the Leacock’s Private School, Sybil Leacock, for her remaining open the last 67 years.
Though confessing that times were getting harder and that a few of her students had withdrawn because their parents could no longer afford the private care, Leacock said nevertheless that her roll, now at 82, had remained mostly constant.
“My numbers … yes [have dropped] a little bit because there were persons who were unable to pay, because of certain circumstances. When they were employed as maids and this and that and then were laid off, hotel workers and so on, but it hasn’t gone too far below because the Ministry of Education gave me space for 100 children and I have the 80-whatever,” she commented.
The 84-year-old woman who noted that she started the school with one student, a stone’s throw from the current site, called the institution a “family school”.
“I should not hesitate to say that it is a family school from the point of view that you would have heard me say that grandparents, aunts, uncles, whatever, because they want to know that their children get the same kind of attention that was given to them,” she said.
While she has continued to educate students at the Farm Road, St. Peter-based school, Leacock told Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Senator Harry Husbands that it has not been easy.
“At that time the school fee was just, that one student paid $1.50 per month. That’s what I worked for, $1.50 a month… but parents paid the $1.50 and you know back then parents could get things a lot cheaper.
“Since I was brought up an economist, because I was fatherless, my father died before I was born and my mother a domestic servant, you would understand I was taught to cut and contrive and I’ve been doing that until now. But I must say that parents and past students have been very helpful.”
This generosity, Leacock said, meant that a number of past student, now adults and some even elderly persons, return to help teach students, including in areas like Integrated Science.
Additionally, she noted that she has never received financial aid from any government, but rather relies on loans and other assistance from the banks in the immediate Speightstown area.
She said though that for the upcoming term she had a number of pupils already registered to come in, although she said that the rise of day nurseries had also cut the numbers that would usually enroll from age three.
Just like most of the other private schools he visited, Husbands noted that he was impressed with what he had seen and heard, especially with the children themselves. (LB)