Barbados’ newest centenarian, Avisene Carrington, who founded the Merrivale Preparatory School was a devout teacher for the past 74 years having entered the teaching profession in 1937.
Carrington who was born on September 15, 1918, said she did not feel her age.
“I do not feel like 100 years old because I mix with people who are so much younger than I am. I often wonder why my daughter-in-law wants to go around with me. She and I have a lot in common. Age does not play a part in our relationship,” Carrington said, adding that her family also does not treat her as though she is an elderly woman.
“My own children, yes, we have our own squabbles and things like that but they do not treat me like I am an old lady and therefore age is just a number for me,” she said.
Carrington credited her long life to being a teacher for so long.
“Teaching is my life. I left St Michael’s School in July and started teaching in September of that same year. That was 1937, and I continued teaching with my own school until I was 90,” she said.
The former school principal would have laid the foundation for many notable persons in Barbadian society such as renowned musician Nicholas Branker and the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley. Carrington said she always knew that Mottley would be a force to be reckoned with.
“That is something I expected and not only had I prayed for it but all along I knew she was going to be a power to contend with. I was just so pleased and happy when the people of Barbados said this is who we want to lead our country,” she said smiling.
She had some stellar advice for young teachers urging them to relate to their students.
“I found over the years that we need to be in touch with students from every point of view and get them on their side. Often somebody breaks a rule and I say, ‘Everybody put your pencils down and anyone who thinks that is the correct behaviour just stand up and say that.’ And the children were on my side; they would say ‘No teacher, he was on the playground and he was behaving very badly.’ So I think teachers need to let children know what is expected of them and the majority of them respond to that kind of guidance. It makes a great difference… you would be surprised to know that children respond to that sort of explanation rather than bullying or laughing at a child with a disability – they may want to help. That is something that needs to be more widespread,” Carrington said.
Outside of teaching, Carrington is also an avid gardener and showed Governor General Dame Sandra Mason her beautiful backyard garden.
Carrington was also treated to a bottle of non-alcoholic wine, flowers, a birthday card from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as well as a birthday card from Mason. (LG)