A boisterous "Zak a come!" with the attendant 2nd, 3rd and 4th form boys along with their male counterparts from the Trade stream fleeing in concert away from a tall, ebony figure was the standard introduction first form boys got to the most celebrated (and dreaded) figure to traverse the landscape of
St. Andrew Technical High School (STATHS). Who exactly was "Zak" who also went by other cognomens such as "Zacky" and "Black Pearl".
Stafford Wycliffe Isaac-Henry, educator extraordinaire and administrator 'par excellence', graced this earth on May 29, 1924. Born in the village of Banbury, St. Catherine, Isaac-Henry with diligence and honour, served STATHS from 1969 - 1990 as its principal, punctuated by an interregnum when Madge Facey administered.
That Mr. Isaac-Henry would march his way to a career in education was a given, as despite his love for and expertise in the field of sports and despite the call to farming packaged with a promised three acres, Isaac-Henry, under the mentorship of his beloved uncle, who was his surrogate father and an educator, successfully completed his first, second and third year Pupil-Teacher Examination. He then moved on to Mico Teachers' College, (now Mico University), and finally completed formal studies with his degree in Education from the University of London.
His remarkable forty year teaching career began at Elletson Primary then he had stints at the Mico Teachers College and the Stony Hill Industrial School. He entered the high school system at Kingston College, where he spent twenty years serving as a teacher whose leadership traits and penchant for discipline were legendary . His work as chief cadet officer at the North Street institution left a lasting impact on those within his watch as well as those without.
The year 1969 heralded his ascendancy into the principal's chair at STATHS and with boundless energy he worked to transform the Spanish Town Road based institution into what we proudly referred to as "the Oasis in the Desert". He fused the Trade Training Centre with the High School, he also oversaw the growth of the various departments in the Trade stream and was the driving force behind the start of an Advance Level (A' Level) programme at the school, at a time when it was unthinkable for Technical High Schools to implement such a programme. Yes, Isaac-Henry was a visionary, he also had the innate ability to tap the right sources to get things done. He taught the male population, by example, to be fearless and respectful to the opposite sex, and he taught us collectively to be ambitious, ready to serve and industrious. (He was also an enforcer in reminding us not to walk on the well-manicured lawns that contrasted the surroundings beyond the school walls).
It is not coincidental that some of the schools most distinguished graduates were under his care. STATHS graduates, especially those in the technical field, were greeted with alacrity by the work world and our sportsmen and women held their own and beyond even fulfilling his stated ambition of capturing the Manning Cup, they added the Oliver Shield to boot! During Isaac-Henry's tenure as principal, the track and cricket teams would not win Champs or Sunlight Cup (though they bagged the Tappin Cup), however, our Class 1 sprint teams were a nightmare for those contending for championship honours and our cricket teams habitually placed members on the national teams. He dutifully served the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) and wore different hats at different times with equal ease serving as Chairman of the Finance Committee, Chairman of the Football Committee, Chairman of Sunlight Cricket Committee and Director of Ceremonies.
Stafford Wycliffe Isaac-Henry twenty-one years of service was truncated by his passing on July 16, 1990. His was a remarkable journey which will see history indelibly chronicling him among the top echelon in the annals of Jamaican high school principals and administrators. The S.W. Isaac-Henry Track & Field Invitation serves as a means to perpetuate his memory and promote his legacy.
Honour, Diligence, Service