He was at the centre of several controversies over the years, but last evening former principal of the Graydon Sealy Secondary School, Matthew Farley was praised and even credited for some of the hardline stances that he took as an educator.
Among those who lauded Farley’s leadership was Jeff Broomes, the outspoken principal of the Parkinson Memorial Secondary – himself a controversial figure and a good friend.
Speaking at a retirement celebration and dinner themed Igniting, Transforming, Soaring held at
the Hilton Barbados Resort for the ex-principal, Broomes recalled that Farley was severely criticized by Barbadians when he sought to enforce a rule relating to the mandatory length of school skirts.
“I thought he was slaughtered unfairly and Matthew, just in case you got the impression that you did not get the support of your colleagues, . . .I want to say to you your colleagues supported you. Most of them don’t have the fearless nature that you have. Sometimes people feel a way, but are afraid to express it publicly,” said Broomes.
“I think you have set the standard,” he said to Farley. “Unfortunately, in our country we are too easy to give in to slackness and we tend to want to be everybody’s friend. We don’t have to be everybody’s friend because at the end of the day . . . you’re going to meet your master alone so, therefore, you have to live with your conscience and your values even if you have to live it singularly.”
Though he did not specifically mention the challenges at Parkinson Memorial where teachers recently staged four days of industrial action over conditions, Broomes did say that Farley had been in regular contact with him.
“There is no colleague of mine, none, that I’ve worked with over these past 40 years that has interacted with me to guide, to advise so that he could get an understanding of what’s going on over the last few weeks and months of my life than you. I thank you for it again. Your care and concern for me has been very important.”
Meantime, Education Minister Ronald Jones admitted that he and the retired principal did not always agree, but emphasized that there was never any disrespect.
“Matthew knew the laws . . . he knew how far he [could] go without toppling over. And all young principals who move into the system . . . [need] to know the law, you won’t run yourself into trouble. You can defend yourself based upon the law. It’s always open to interpretation but the law stands as the law. When there were issues, we always were able to discuss them and resolve them amicably,” Jones said.
He saluted Farley for his 40-year contribution to the country’s education system.