Ministry provides support after teacher found dead at St Mary’s College

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly –

Staff and students of Mary’s College, Port of Spain, received support from the Ministry of Education’s employee assistance programme (EAP) and the Student Support Services Division (SSSD) after the school’s physical education (PE) teacher was found dead at the school, on Frederick Street, on Monday.

Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly made the revelation in a WhatsApp message to Newsday on Tuesday. She said the ministry was saddened by the teacher’s passing and offered its deepest condolences to his family.

According to reports, PE teacher Joel Garcia, 55, was found unresponsive in the PE room on Monday evening after previously complaining of chest pains. He was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

TT Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) first vice-president Adesh Dwarika commended the ministry for its response in sending support personnel to the school as early as Tuesday morning.

“We are pleased that, at least, the members of EAP came in and had discussions with the staff, because what happens is that, usually, they don’t come in.

“Usually the student support would have sessions with members of staff in terms of grief counselling, but I’m quite happy that the EAP was involved in this particular instance.”

He said the EAP counsellors advised staff on ways to cope with the loss while SSSD personnel did the same for the students who Garcia taught.

Dwarika told Newsday the entire school was saddened by Garcia’s passing.

He said Garcia had been a staff member since 2006 and was well-loved by all, especially because of his calm-but-strict personality.

“The members of staff, they are experiencing approximately the first stages of grief in terms of the shock and the surprise.”

He said the school was expected to host a special prayer and mass on Wednesday morning in remembrance of Garcia.