Barbados’ newest centenarian, Avisene Caesaretta Carrington, dedicated most of her life to educating others.
But despite stepping away from the classroom at 90 when she retired and closed Merrivale Preparatory School, she still has a wealth of knowledge and she is not afraid to share it.
Yesterday at her Pine Road, St Michael home, Carrington, who some affectionately call “Aunty Avis”, was toasted by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, Member of Parliament for the area Marsha Caddle, her family, friends and former students.
Carrington is the widow of former permanent secretary Vere Carrington, and the sister of fellow centenarian Constance L. Inniss, whose face is on a Barbados stamp.
She is the mother of three children, including well known videographer Ronnie Carrington. He said though she was stern, he could not have asked for a better mother.
The centenarian left the St Michael School in July 1937 and by September she was in the teaching service.
However, after seeing what she felt were deficiencies in the public school system, she decided to start her own.
“I wanted to create a different atmosphere for children. So we did a lot of hands-on experience. In the Government service, children had to be very rigidly taught. You could not question a teacher’s opinion . . . but with Merrivale School, children were a part of the teaching experience.”
Over the years she said found out the importance of teachers being “in touch” with their pupils.
She also said that if other students understood that their colleagues had their own unique challenges, that could lessen strife amongst them.
“You’ll be surprised to know that children respond to that sort of explanation, rather than bullying and laughing at a child with disabilities. They want to help and that is something I feel needs to be more widespread.
“So you have to put strategies in place to assist children with disabilities. Rather than laughing at the child, you realise there is something keeping them back.”
Carrington told Dame Sandra about her love for gardening and they even ventured into her garden.
She admitted she was not a “big eater”, but her love for the outdoors coupled with relationships she shared with her family kept her feeling young.
She often visits plant nurseries with daughter-in-law Hazel Lindo-Carrington, whom she described as her partner in crime.
“I don’t feel like 100 years old because I mix with people who are so much younger than I, so age does not play a part in our relationship. My own children, we may have our own squabbles, but they don’t treat me as if I’m an old lady and therefore age is just a number for me,” she added. (TG)