Ms Martha Pierre served as Registrar of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College from January 1987 – December 1998. Her tenure at the College has been described as invaluable in terms of the foundation laid and the development of the institution.
Ms Pierre began her distinguished career in education as a Pupil Teacher under the training of luminaries such as Sir Leton Thomas. According to Sir Leton, she was “identified by the team of Teacher trainers as a bright, intelligent, disciplined and dedicated young teacher.” The expectation was that she had a bright future ahead in the field.
Ms Pierre’s formative years were spent at the Roman Catholic Girls’ School in Castries until 1950. She then became a Pupil Teacher and attained the St. Lucia Teachers’ Certificate of Competency in 1956. Ms Pierre later went on to Erdiston College in Barbados and received the Certificate in Education for Teaching in 1962. She continued to pursue training in education at various institutions and in 1976 she completed the Bachelor of Education at Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada.
After eight years of teaching at the primary level, Ms. Pierre became a Supervising Teacher with the Department of Education from 1959 and in 1963 she was appointed as the Principal of the Grande Riviere Combined School. She remained at the helm of this school for 10 years, and was then assigned to the post of District Education Officer III serving in the districts of Micoud and Vieux Fort. In 1980, she rose to the rank of Education Officer, Primary, and by 1983 she was the Deputy Chief Education Officer.
It was while in that role that she was called upon to transition the then Morne Educational Complex to the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College which had been established by an Act of 1985.
Ms Pierre’s role as Registrar included serving as Secretary to the Board of Governors, the Academic Board and the Management and Finance Committee. She ably transitioned the management of finances and of personnel from the Ministry of Education to the College. She also assisted the Principal with administrative duties that contributed to the efficient running of the College. When the College was without a Vice Principal, Ms Pierre ably managed the College in the absence of the Principal.
Sir Leton in his tribute to her on the occasion of her retirement notes that she overcame the struggles and frustrations associated with the innovations, reform and advancement of the College. He notes in particular her role in the following:
• The introduction of First Year UWI Degree Programmes
• The introduction of Associate Degree Programmes
• The streamlining of examination and examination processes
The grandeur, pomp and ceremony that has come to be associated with the College’s annual graduation is also the work of Ms. Pierre. She planned and organized the Graduation with ‘meticulous care and quiet efficiency. Sir Leton notes “She contributed in no small measure to the College Graduation becoming an event which symbolizes excellence in so many ways.”
Apart from her work in education, Ms Pierre was a devoted Catholic and gave unparalleled service to the Church. She was awarded a Papal Honour, Bene Merenti Medal in 1993.
Her commitment to the development of young people was also manifested in her work with the Girl Guides stemming from 1953-1990. She began as Brownie Guider and served as District and Island Commissioner for many years.
In her own words, Ms Pierre admits that she was proud to have been given the opportunity to be part of the development of an institution that she left “well established, unique and recognized regionally and internationally”
Ms. Martha Pierre slipped away quietly on Christmas Day December 25, 2021 at the Owen King European Union Hospital. She was buried on Tuesday January 18, 2022.
Her legacy will live on through the successes of the College and students who go through its doors.
The Sir Arthur Lewis Community College mourns her loss and extends condolences to her family and friends.