Once in a great while an opportunity arises for us to make a momentous contribution to humanity. That time has come for all KCOBs. We are offered an incredible opportunity to reshape the present Kingston College, to reclaim what is now a dying relic and restore it to the beautiful flower it was before the fire. We must now breathe new life into our wilted decaying purple rose. The Father has said to us, I have heard your prayers and you of purple blood have suffered enough. So he prevailed upon the saintly shepherd to reach out to a distinguished Fortis Brave to help champion the fight to save our institution.
Bishop Reid has offered the Chairmanship of the board to the venerable lawyer and Statesman, Professor Stephen Vasciannie. This is tantamount to saying, if this man can’t save us, nobody can. I must confess though that I am extremely optimistic, but cautious. Having seen how political envy and unchecked egomania have destroyed some of the most promising initiatives in Jamaica, we can only pray now that we don’t fall victim to that scourge.
For years we clamored for a leader who is a visionary and is not afraid to take strident positions to lead the KC redevelopment process, I do believe we have found one. If the board can be salvaged, I believe Vasciannie can do it. He has been a loyal contributor to the school over the years, coaching and funding the Quiz Challenge team and providing inspiration for the young boys by being a mentor and a surrogate big brother. Those of us who are involved in the daily machinations at the school don’t feel we have to tell Stephen what needs to be done for KC, by virtue of him spending so much time on the campus, he knows.
What we will do is encourage all old boys to stand behind him and offer whatever support is needed to make this institution right again. The strategic plan of which we hear so much about must be revisited with the understanding that creating the critically needed classroom space is a top priority. Restoring the plant to habitable standards is urgent, but probably of utmost importance is hiring a Principal with the right experience, credentials and sense of ownership. Widening the hiring process will ensure we get the best available, and if he is Baptist or Gentile we will make him into an Anglican.
It’s always difficult to tackle so many formidable challenges immediately, giving each the attention it deserves, but in history there are lessons that have served us well, and if we learn from some of these we can save ourselves much frustration and agony. In 1993 New York was having a particularly chilling crime problem as the city was embroiled in almost a decade and a half of serious crimes that many people blamed on the drug culture and high unemployment. In came an abrasive little lawyer as the newly elected Mayor. Many of us immediately labeled him a Napoleon Bonaparte for his cantankerous ways. The little fellow proceeded to reduce crime by over 40% in the three years (93-96). He reduced murder by over 50% in the same time and even had them proclaim New York as one of the safest cities in the world. The commissioner of police provided the numbers and the FBI correlated them, so most citizens accepted them as true. As for me, I never trusted that city after dark, so I didn’t stick around to enjoy the dubious new title. An analysis of how this transformation took place revealed that three of Mayor Giuliani’s policies had the greatest effect: 1) He aggressively prosecuted misdemeanor crimes like littering, trespassing, etc; 2) He held local commanders responsible for crimes in their precincts, effectively forcing them to take ownership; 3) He implemented corporate management techniques in the police force, i.e. setting goals, promoting results oriented reward systems.
Now if someone can turn New York around in three years, I believe Kingston College should provide an easier challenge. So as unappealing as Mayor Giuliani was he taught us a few things. First and foremost is that the human inclination to be rambunctious and disorderly can be significantly curtailed if you nip the small infractions in the bud. The new Headmaster must show zero tolerance for the small infractions that occurs at KC on a daily basis, the littering, vandalizing, and indiscipline. Then each teacher must take responsibility for his or her classroom. Our athletic director must take ownership of his equipment and his field. If we don’t have an Athletic director get one, someone must be accountable. The Headmaster must take ownership of both campuses, delegating to Melbourne as appropriate. Each department head must be held accountable for the performance of the entire student body as it pertains to their subject area. Most importantly we should have a Headmaster that all teachers respect and will work closely with to achieve the goals. The board must from time to time affirm their commitment to that Headmaster so rogue teachers are not emboldened to defy his policies.
This renewal is going to take a team effort and with this opportunity to bring new blood on board we should be re-energized. In the past we’ve allowed protocol, bureaucracy and inertia to immobilize us. We must unload these yoke to progress and put our weight behind a new Chairman who we are confident knows the direction to a reincarnated Kingston College. We wish him a speedy confirmation by the Government and commend him for having the gumption to assume this responsibility when so many of our brothers shied away from it.