A true humanitarian – Carolyn Archibald

When I was invited to the retirement ceremony of Carolyn Archibald as administrator of the Dunnottar School on Wednesday 3rd June, 2015 I had no idea as to the magnitude of this lady’s contribution to the success story of, and her dedication to, the Dunnottar School and to its 85 students.

Mrs. Archibald was born in York, England and educated at Dringhouses Primary School, Knavesmire Secondary School and at St. Johns College, graduating with the National Nursery Education Board certificate.

She then worked as a private teacher in Geneva, Switzerland for one year (1970-71) and emigrated to Montreal, Canada in January 1972 to work as a kindergarten teacher in an inner city pre-school until 1976 when it closed.

Mrs. Archibald was interested in working with special needs children and was employed from 1976 until 1986 at John Birks Centre, a residential home for children with severe disabilities. During this time, she was enrolled at McGill Universuty and graduated with a B.Ed. in Early Childhood Education with a post graduate certificate in Special Education.

Mrs. Archibald first visited Saint Lucia in February 1979 during Independence and fell in love with the island.

She married Edwin Archibald in 1981 and came to live in Saint Lucia in 1986. In January of the following year she became Adminstrator of the Dunnottar School where she has been ever since. During this time the school has grown from just over 50 students and eight teachers to its present 85 students, 19 teachers and three teacher’s aides.

Mrs. Archibald formerly served on the board of directors of the National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities and currently serves as the Director of Very Special Arts and on the National Community Foundation’s committee representing persons with disabilities. She is a member of Pawasol pour ti Mamai.

Mrs. Archibald has two daughters and two grandchildren.

The outpouring of testimonies and praises from both teachers and students was inspiring and emotional and there was many a tear in the eyes of the audience.

Carolyn Archibald is a tower of strength who, under trying circumstances, limited funds and a deteriorating building has transformed the school into a stepping stone for many of the students to accomplish things that would have been deemed impossible due to the restrictions that many of the children faced. She broke barriers and through determination and fortitude, working with a dedicated team of teachers, many students have been integrated into the general school system, become musicians, learnt skills and been taught how to be self-sufficient in today’s challenging world.

This lady should be known to all St. Lucians as someone who has dedicated 27 years of her life to the betterment of our special needs children who unfortunately are often overlooked in the grand scheme of further education.

It is important to note that when the children reach the age of 18 and have to leave the school, there is no provision made for them to blend into society and they are often left with little or no options to further themselves in today’s world.

Surely, it is persons like Carolyn Archibald who should be included in the list of awards to the service of this country and I trust that her name will be first on the next list.

Well done Carolyn and I say thank you from all of St. Lucia.

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