Turning 50 isnt badnot if youre tack-sharp
on the academic side, you get plenty exercise and technology
is your friend.
The University School on Baker Street, St Augustine has
been able to bring it all together to create beautiful minds
over the years.
Theyre celebrating now and principal Marsha Joseph
is beaming with pride.
know we just had three children place in the top 100 in
the country and our students have always done well.
In her 35 years at the school, the last 13 as principal,
she has seen a growing list of distinguished alumni; an
enviable record for teaching excellence and more recently,
a deal with Microsoft that could make the school a technology
The US$40,000 grant will put new computers and projectors
in classrooms and the library and when its all done,
teaching and learning at the University School may never
be the same again.
Considering it all began when a few wives formed a play
group for their children while their husbands lectured to
droopy-eyed students at the Imperial College of Tropical
Agriculture (later UWI), its a tremendous achievement.
As the children grew, were told, their mothers
ambitions grew with them and, in 1954, out of sheer need,
the play group morphed into the University School.
Today, the school houses about 250 children in refurbished
but original buildings and Joseph has set her sights higher.
would be ideal to have a new building and that is our plan.
Of course, it would take money to do it.
Old buildings et al, the school doesnt seem like 50.
It sits with the northern range to its back in a neighbourhood
lined with beautiful, old houses with well-manicured lawns.
There is a large hall at the front where children congregate
for assembly and morning prayer.
Childlike inventions adorn the small classrooms and during
breaks, the children do what children do.
When the bell announces that school is over for the day,
the noise can be deafening.
a boy hit me in my stomach! one lad complained to
her as she took a visitor around the school.
youre gonna have to stay away from that boy then!
Joseph said the timetable was deliberately tailored to churn
out well-rounded charges.
The curriculum includes music, art, science, religious knowledge,
library, poetry, sports and field trips.
want our children to be able to relate to their environment
and their society, she said.
For her, famed local swimming coach Anil Roberts is proof
that the strategy works.
She mentioned Kemmy and Subhina George, both alumni and
national swimmers, confirming that swimming is a religion
Prof Selwyn Ryans son Kwame Ryan went to the school
and is now an orchestra conductor, she boasted.
And former Director of Public Prosecutions Mark Mohammed,
now a judge, is another reputable old boy.
Joseph was reading from an unseen but exhaustive list as
she went through the schools achievements:
won the national schools scrabble competition in the
first year, and we made it to the math olympiad and
For each victory, she paid glowing tribute to her staff,
13 in all, saying they shared a bond which made coming to
family here; just today we were all extremely concerned
for one of our teachers whose entire family lives in Grenada
(which was devastated by Hurricane Ivan). We were calling
all night last night and not getting through because she
was on the phone.
That afternoon many were still at their desks, finishing
their work. Some were young, others much older, but all
of them as warm and vibrant as Joseph herself.
Her energy is genuine and when shes not at school
she serves as an assistant priest at the Holy Saviour Anglican
Church in Curepe.
Joseph is looking forward to the 50th Anniversary launch
on September 18 at UWIs Sport and Physical Education
The event, she promised, will feature musical and cultural
performances by her students and will also highlight the
achievements of past students. UWIs principal Dr Bhoe
Tewarie is scheduled to deliver the feature address.
She said a gala dinner, fun day and concert are all in the
works for December and early next year.
The 58-year-old is excited about her schools big year
and she, better than anyone, knows how great it feels to