Today, Charles Ifill, a master of the art of teaching, said goodbye to a career he loved and lived.
For instilling knowledge, developing skills and inculcating positive attitudes in the hundreds of students he has taught over the last 41 years, Ifill was showered with tributes and gifts at a retirement function held in his honour at the Hillaby Turner’s Hall Primary School, where he ended his teaching career on March 1.
Students and teachers, through speech, dance, song, and the playing of musical instruments, expressed their appreciation for Ifill’s invaluable contribution.
He was described as a teacher who often came across as serious, but had the ability to laugh heartily. Many called him the warm, caring, corporative individual who paid attention to duty, always willing to substitute when required.
They said he was always willing to offer good advice and encouragement.
Ifill commanded the respect and attention of students in the delivery of the curriculum with ease, yet was firm in his discipline, and frequently took time out to counsel students and point out the inappropriateness of their behaviour when he saw the need to.
His long-standing friend Coral Richards, who interacted with him in his capacity as teacher, pastor, analyst and musician, said she respected him as a man who nurtured lives in and outside the classroom.
“He is a man of integrity and I can stand here and say this without any fear of contradiction. He is known for bringing balance and new perspectives to challenging situations and also for making decisions, based on principle and not personalities, and that is something which I respect very highly . . . . I believe he has done an excellent job. He is not a person who gives a lot of liberty to his mouth –– and that is something that is lacking today,” Richards told the gathering.
Ifill began his teaching career at the Good Shepherd Mixed School in 1973 where he spent 11 years before furthering his career in Grenada at the St Andrews’s Anglican Primary School.
On his return to Barbados, he gave 11 years of service to Deacons Primary School before he was reassigned to Good Shepherd from September 2006 to August 2010. In September 2010, he continued his service in the profession at Hillaby.
District Education Officer Olwin Walker commended Ifill’s genuine thirst for knowledge. She said she believed his degrees in theology and sociology helped him cope with the changes in cultures, values and norms and in understanding human interactions.
“I am sure these two areas have assisted you in answering many perplexing questions during your years as a teacher. You would have witnessed changes in the family, school systems, religion and crime, all would have impacted on the students you taught.
“Mr Ifill, many thanks to you for your contribution to nation building, for every child whom you encouraged, for the one whom you wiped a tear. For the parent you advised appropriately, for the child whom you assisted when they needed extra help, we thank you. For those students you led to greater understanding . . . and those who aspired to pursue further learning, thank you on behalf of the Ministry of Education,” Walker said.
In response, Ifill expressed his appreciation to the school, his wife and five children, and former colleagues.
The 65-year-old said while he was sure to miss teaching, all those with whom he came into contact would have a very special place in his memories as he joined the retirement club.
“I thank you for the thoughts that you have shared. I want you to know that this is a day that I will always remember for the rest of my life,” he said.
Ifill encouraged teachers and students to shine individually, and collectively.
“I wish you the very best. I pray that God will continue to touch your lives and touch every plan and every executed plan that you might have lived,” he said.