Professor Roberts recounts the inspiring story of the founding of the school in 1938. The 1930s witnessed the Great Depression following the crash of the stock market in the United States in 1929. Labor unrest swept the Commonwealth Caribbean beginning in Belize and then spread to Trinidad and Guyana in 1933 and 1934. Labour unrest arrived in Jamaica in May 1938. World War 11 was on the horizon. These were the uncertain times and inauspicious circumstances in which Mrs. Iris Blanche Simpson founded Ferncourt, supported by her Inspector of School husband, Joseph Josiah Simpson.
Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal
Vivienne Roberts (nee Green) was born in Alderton, St Ann in 1949. She lived in Claremont from 1955 to 1966, with a two year break in Harmony Vale from 1958, attending both the Claremont and Bensonton Primary Schools. She attended Ferncourt High School from 1960 to 1966.
Ferncourt High School 1938 – 2018: A Story of Enterprise, Access and Opportunity harks back to my early life in rural Jamaica in a country that had been emancipated from slavery for just over a century. Through the agency of the schools and other institutions, it was in the process of reshaping an inherited colonial educational system to meet its own aspirations and needs. The perspective is from that of a child who experienced in the 1960s a small Jamaica High School in the final days of its enterprising founder, Iris B Simpson; a teenager who learned a lot about life and school and opportunities under the watchful eyes of Principal O. S Fisher, and an adult who watched and felt the conservation and changes of the school through the eyes of younger siblings, the words in correspondence, and the cameras of newspapers. There is much more that can be discovered about educational institutions and education in a changing society, from that book.
In Volume 1 includes playful pieces about water in ponds, rivers and streams. In the valley there are experiences with rejection, disappointment and a strange dream. The Christmas season, the exercise routine and a vacation celebrate life on the mountain. The collection ends with thanks and appreciation for life – in the valley, on the plain or the mountain.
In Volume 2 addresses wide ranging themes including a lighthearted play with words, The journey takes us to the valley through encounters with negative emotions and frustrations. However, there is much to celebrate on the mountain with a New Year, a new grandchild, the end of the rainy season and new memories. The Flower Vendor and Caribbean Cruise are stories reflecting the diversity of life in the Caribbean. They offer glimpses of geography, biodiversity and culture. Not surprisingly, the collection ends with a prayer of thanksgiving for all the experiences – on the plain, in the valley or on the mountaintop.
In Volume 3 , playing with words gives as much joy as flying a kite. Events like a burglary cause doubt and fear. However, there are prospects of love and optimism about the future. Flight delays and misadventure is a feature of Caribbean life as illustrated in the story of Flight 408. The volume concludes with a whimsical prayer for foods, farmers, cooks and friends.
In Volume 4 , there is joyful play about sounds, colours and mindless wanderings about yesterday , today and tomorrow. Depression and death interfere but perseverance, smiles and sunsets work their magic. The conniving beggar and a playful astrological interpretation of life inject their own humour. The volume ends with a prayer of thanksgiving.
Professor Vivienne Roberts of the University of the West Indies Open Campus is a scholar of great repute. She is known for being meticulous and of holding to high standards. As a colleague, I am honored and privileged to have the opportunity to write the Foreword for her latest book celebrating the eightieth anniversary of her alma mater, Ferncourt High School in St Ann, Jamaica. Professor Roberts is specially positioned to write about her alma mater. She is from a large family in a neighboring community in St Ann and many of her siblings attended Ferncourt High School. It is accurate to say that she has known the school for almost all her life, and has the benefit of experiences, views and opinions of her younger siblings who also attended the school. These, coupled with her academic competencies, special knowledge, intimacy, and vantage points, make Professor Roberts the best candidate to memorialize and celebrate Ferncourt High School at the young age of eighty years. Read More
Professor Emeritus, the Honorable
May 7, 2020