All indications are that South Florida is the place to be for what is reportedly one of the biggest and most prolific fund raising events held to benefit a Jamaican high school. So, when I heard that the newly appointed Kingston College headmaster was going to be in town for the 2012 Purple Session, I made it my point of duty to head to South Florida.
I caught up with Headmaster Dave Myrie at Genesis in Tamarac, Florida, where a Friday reception was being held in his honor. It was also in honor of the many Kingston College Old Boys supporters who journeyed from far and wide to attend the fund raiser, held annually the first Saturday in October.
I had not met the headmaster before, but it would not have been difficult to find him amongst the valued supporters. He is an imposing figure, and was dressed in a purple shirt, quite appropriately so for the occasion. For our friends who do not know, purple and white are the colors of the Anglican Church, and speak to our religious connections.
I started my interview almost immediately. I wanted to know, basically, what was the headmaster’s key priority for the college. “Discipline, is the # 1 priority; I want the boys to be even more disciplined than they are now. With proper discipline, we can achieve much,” he explained quite emphatically.
The headmaster also went on to highlight a number of high priority objectives. Those include:
- Elevating, quite significantly, the standard of teaching and learning
- Working even more closely with the base of students in the lower grades (“building the base,” as the headmaster termed it)
- Renewing the college’s physical infrastructure (modernizing the science and IT labs even further, and making other key improvements to the physical infrastructure )
- Expanding the number of available classrooms overall
- Fostering even more unity and fellowship amongst the boys
- Establishing a block of classrooms exclusively for 6th-formers
- Acquiring 15 or more PC computing systems for immediate deployment within the college
- Restarting the Smart School Initiative project that was proposed for the college a couple years ago, and
- Maintaining performance excellence in the sport programs.
During the interview I was reminded of a comment Michael Manley made many, many years ago at a KCOB banquet held in Hempstead, Long Island, New York. Manley was speaking then at what turned out to be one of his last major speeches. He said, basically, that if he were not a Jamaica College graduate, he certainly would have wanted to be a KC graduate. He explained that there was just something about our drive and influence.
On that note, I asked Headmaster Myrie what it is that he would want, specifically, from the KCOB organizations. “More coordination,” he responded without hesitation, and without further explanation. Is this, then, a call for us to work more closely together, for a greater degree of synergy?
At the end of our talk I joined a long line by a table where a most beautiful attendant was dishing out what turned out to be some great-tasting soup. As I sipped my soup and reflected on my conversation with the headmaster, I tried to surmise, for myself, what it was that we now have in the new headmaster.
In this new headmaster, we have a bright, charismatic, well-respected, no-nonsense visionary with a solid background in business, and one who is also a highly accomplished educator, at the same time. And, oh…did I mention that he was also a track star?
In a speech after the interview Mr. Myrie reminded the honorees that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” In addition, he virtually painted his vision of a KC where the level of education would be “as good as, or better, than what I would want for my own child.”
At a mini summit held Sunday morning at the Grand Palm Resort in Pembroke Pines, the presidents of the various KCOB organizations pledged wholeheartedly to support the headmaster’s initiatives. They certainly look forward to working with Mr. Myrie quite harmoniously, and most productively, for many years to come.