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Late former BCC Principal remembered for his contribution

By Anesta Henry

The mood was sombre at the Barbados Community College (BCC) on Tuesday when the body of former principal Dr Gladstone Best was reposed for viewing in the Liberal Arts Auditorium.

During an intimate memorial, BCC students and staff joined relatives and friends to reflect on the life of the late educator who served the institution with distinction for more than 40 years.

Dr Best was described as an administrator and educator who made an outstanding contribution to enhancing and moving BCC to another level.

His widow Marslyn and their children Damian, Dionne and Daryl, and his grandchildren attended the memorial where principal Annette Alleyne spoke about how Dr Best provided the platform that continues to shape the BCC’s identity.

She said the staff will forever be grateful for the support he provided.

“A major part of his life was invested at the Barbados Community College, and, as a result, the people of Barbados and the region have been made richer by his invaluable contribution,” Alleyne said.

Serving in many different capacities during his association with the BCC, Dr Best began in the Division of Science, teaching Chemistry and Mathematics, first as a part-time tutor in 1979 and then full-time as an assistant tutor in 1980. 

He studied Computer Studies at St Clair College of Applied Arts and Technology in Canada in 1986, returned to Barbados the following year and took up the post of tutor in the Department of Computer Studies.

Dr Best also acted in the post of assistant registrar, where he focused on a project to computerise the BCC’s systems in collaboration with St Clair College. In 1993, he became the senior tutor of Computer Studies when the department became a full division, and in 1998, he assumed the role of deputy principal.

From 2004 up until he retired in 2015, Dr Best held the post of principal.

Retired head of the Division of Computer Studies Samuel Rouse said when he met Dr Best in 1997 in his capacity as senior tutor, he observed and appreciated the stalwart he was.

Rouse said he was a visionary who was results-oriented and an individual who possessed the strength of character and acumen to realise those goals.

Pallbearers carrying Dr Gladstone Best’s casket into the Liberal Arts Auditorium of the Barbados Community College for viewing.

“Despite his impressive list of achievements and being a very private person, he remained humble. He saw his achievements as opportunities to serve, advance the cause of BCC, education and training, and impact lives in a positive way,” he said.

Rouse also indicated that Dr Best, who reached out to the disadvantaged, underprivileged and marginalised, introduced the Basic Computer Operations Certificate which was offered in 1998, and took BCC to the blocks by offering an information technology (IT) programme to the college’s immediate communities.

“In this respect, he was quite ahead of his time. The programme sought to provide candidates with IT and life skills so participants would be more marketable. Dr Best was somewhat of a philosopher who saw himself as an imparter of wisdom. 

“I succeeded Dr Best as senior teacher of the Department of Computer Studies when he was promoted to deputy principal. At the handover, he gave me these words of wisdom, which left a timeless and indelible imprint on my mind. He said, ‘operate as though you are going to die tomorrow, so you have a sense of urgency. Also, operate as though you are going to live forever; that means you plan’,” Rouse recalled.

During her tribute, Jacqueline Arthur-Gill recalled that she first met Dr Best in the 1970s when he taught her Mathematics at the Alexandra School, and then again in 1980 when she became a student of the BCC.

“Dr Best had a unique way of making complex topics seem approachable. He was not just a teacher; he was a mentor who went above and beyond to ensure his students grasped the concepts he taught. His dedication was unwavering, and he invested his time and energy in our success. He had a gift for explaining intricate ideas with clarity and patience, a quality that set him apart,” she said.

“But it wasn’t just his teaching prowess that endeared Dr Best to us. He had a jovial spirit that lit up our classrooms and left an indelible mark on our hearts. I can vividly recall the day he joyfully shared the news of his son Damian’s birth with our class. The happiness radiated from him and it was clear that family was at the core of his life. As we remember Dr Best, we remember a man who was more than an educator. He was a friend who cared deeply about the well-being of his students. He was a mentor who believed in our potential even when we doubted ourselves. He was a father whose love for family was evident in every smile he shared,” Arthur-Gill added.

A funeral service for Dr Best, who died on August 28, one day after his 69th birthday, will be held at the Silver Sands Church of God, Silver Sands, Christ Church, on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. 

He will then be buried at the Serenity Lawns of Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens.

BCC’s communication specialist Lisa Brome indicated that classes at BCC will be suspended at noon on the day of the funeral to allow staff and students to attend. However, she said orientation webinars for incoming students will continue as planned. 

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