Teacher ticks 40 years at Warwick Academy
A teacher at a private school has become the second-longest serving educator in its 357-year history.
However, Shelly Grace, a health and wellbeing teacher at Warwick Academy, admitted that when she started the job 40 years ago, she expected to be there for no more than three years.
Ms Grace, 62, said: “I never dreamt it, but it doesn’t feel like I’ve been here 40 years — it feels like ten to 12 when I look back on it.”
The veteran teacher, originally from the United States, did not plan to become a teacher when she was a student at Springfield College in Massachusetts.
She said: “I started in medical technology, but then did a bone marrow test one day during my rounds and decided that was not for me.
“Thankfully, there were several Bermudians at Springfield with me at the time, and one of my good friends was Shane Marshall, whose father was the headmaster at Warwick Academy.
“He said ‘you could be a health teacher’ because I had a science background and I was a water-safety instructor at the time, so I had always taught students.”
Ms Grace was speaking after she and 18 colleagues were given long-service awards at a ceremony at the school last Friday.
She had doubts about teaching when she started in 1979, but the profession was put into perspective for her when she was involved in a road crash a month after she joined Warwick Academy.
Ms Grace, who lives in Warwick, said: “I was just going over to visit a friend by Harrington Hundreds and a car came on the wrong side of the road and hit me then took off. I hurt my leg quite badly; I had to have grafts.”
“I can remember students who, when I was in the hospital for six weeks, came and visited me every week.”
She said one visited her when he came to the hospital for his own appointments and another brought her food “because the food was so bad there”.
She added that Mark Pettingill, who went on to become an attorney-general and a prominent barrister, also visited every week after he took his dog to training class.
Ms Grace said: “They were so kind and helpful to me that it made me feel like this was home.”
Ms Grace added that, as the only health and wellbeing teacher at the school, she taught all age groups about child-rearing, family relationships and dealing with loss.
She said she had been to the weddings and funerals of former pupils and now taught the children of former Warwick pupils.
Ms Grace added: “I would say 30 per cent of the students I teach, I taught one or both of their parents.
And she admitted: “I’m dreading the day the grandchildren get in.”
The long-service record at Warwick Academy was achieved by Gabriel Rodriguez, who retired in 2002 as deputy principal after 41 years at the school.
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