St Mary’s College old boy Miguel Browne retired as a teacher at the end of the school year. Following is an edited version of a valedictory bio submitted.
Miguel Browne’s association with St Mary’s College has been a long and fulfilling one, spanning more than two thirds of his life. He was a student at the College from 1973 to 1980 during which time he successfully completed both his ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels.
After graduating, he joined the college staff as an undergraduate teacher of both History and Geography. This teaching experience strengthened his resolve to pursue teaching as a career. As such, he turned down his acceptance to the Faculty of Law in 1982 and opted instead to read for a degree in History and Economics at UWI, St Augustine.
On completing his first degree, his scholarship was extended, allowing him to pursue post-graduate studies in International Relations. Browne then returned to St Mary’s College as a graduate teacher in 1986. This marked the second phase of his teaching career which continued uninterruptedly until his retirement in the 2020/21 academic year.
First ‘A’ in History
Over his thirty-seven-year career at St Mary’s, he distinguished himself as an outstanding teacher. His passion for his chosen discipline was evident in the classroom. Drawing on his skills as a storyteller and dramatist, Browne made the subject come alive.
His powerful voice and animated delivery commanded the attention of even the most uninterested students. Despite his ever-smiling persona, Browne was a stickler for discipline and had a particularly low tolerance level for disrespect.
Students of successive eras will long remember him: his lively classroom discussions; his copious notes without the assistance of any written script; his use of many creole proverbs and humorous anecdotes; his unwavering pride in his old primary school of Rosary Boys’; and the Audio-Visual room sessions where he would continually pause a historical movie to reinforce the significance of a particular scene.
Given his serious approach, it was no surprise that Browne’s first Form 6 History class brought home the first ‘A’ in the subject at St Mary’s after many lean years. It marked the beginning of a trend which continued in subsequent years until the advent of the overly ambitious CAPE History syllabus in 2008. His Form 5 students did equally well at CSEC.
In the 1980s and 1990s, his Form 3 History class became a virtual ‘feeder’ for his Form 4 History class since many of his students chose to pursue the subject.
In 1995, when he was first assigned to teach the accelerated Form 2 class, his presence resulted in a number of those students opting to do History alongside their Science subjects in the Upper School.
He was eventually appointed as Head of Department (HOD) of the Modern Studies Department in January 2010.
Sports Day and college publications
Despite his busy teaching schedule, he still found the time to contribute to college life in other ways. For him, the line between curricular and extra-curricular was a blurred one.
And so, having been the editor of the school newspaper The Saint when he was a student, he assisted the students as the teacher in charge when he joined the staff.
He and a dedicated team of students kept the newspaper alive until 1994. In his early days, he also shared his creative talents to produce entertaining dramatic skits for his Form classes which carried them to winners’ row at the Prefects’ Concert on several occasions.
His voice then became a virtual fixture at the College’s Annual Sports Day, providing the commentary of events until 2015. Whether it was manning a station along the route of the College’s annual walkathon, performing, or serving as Master of Ceremonies at a college fundraiser or accompanying the students on a field trip, Browne was always on spot giving of his best.
Over his many years, Browne worked closely with successive school librarians to ensure that the college library was adequately stocked with the most current History resources.
He singlehandedly photocopied material from important sources to create a stock of internal files which allowed his Form 5 and 6 History students easy access to research material which otherwise could not leave the confines of the library.
No discussion of Browne’s contribution would be complete without mention of the College Annual. He first edited and produced the College Annual in 1981 when he was still an undergraduate teacher.
On his return in 1986, he continued to edit and produce the College Annual until its 100th anniversary edition in 2013/14.
From 1990, he harnessed the skills of computer students so that the actual layout of the publication could be done on site under his supervision.
The sight of the fast-paced Browne traversing the College’s corridors to organise classes and sporting teams for photographs became all too familiar over the years.
The fact that he produced 30 such College Annuals is testimony to his boundless energy and his tremendous organisational skills.
It is thanks to him that the College’s history and achievements during his tenure have been meticulously chronicled for posterity not only through photos but through well-researched articles which he often had to pen himself.
Browne’s retirement marks the end of an era at St Mary’s College. His dedication and commitment to teaching and to the College stand as a shining example to all students be they past or present.
The void left by his departure will certainly be difficult to fill. May his retirement be just as rewarding as his tenure at St Mary’s College.