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Oswald Nanton
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By Nkarlo Alexander (Class of 1999)

Oswald Nanton, the longest serving (1991 to about 2001) principal of Union Island Secondary School (UISS) is being remembered as an educational giant. Under his leadership, UISS surpassed the 200-student enrollment milestone of being a bonafide secondary establishment, had an expansion of classroom space availability and subject offerings, moved more into the technological era, increased its deployment of specialised teachers, and made strides towards being a safer and more secure campus.

Academically, Nanton was a driving force for increased learning outcomes. It was under Nanton’s leadership that the science track of subject was added; it was under him that CXC exit results reached and surpassed eight subject passes in one sitting; under him that students were allowed to mix subject focuses (students doing technical, business, and science subjects all together); and under him that an intentional effort was made to zero in on academic outliers and give them maximum exposure.

He was personally involved in students’ participation in opportunities of growth, including the Caribbean-wide regional science camp and the Jaycees public speaking debate.

Nanton also made an impact on the sports and cultural front. Students continued to be scouted to play basketball in the United States; the steel-pan programme increased in skill and style with “Mandela Pan” eventually winning the Vincymas junior panorama during his tenure; the track and field team held up against the best schools in the inter-secondary school meets and brought home multiple golds — especially the respected and dominant senior men’s relay team and senior female sprinter, Joleen Alexander.

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Nanton. however, perhaps will be most remembered for his personal touch. He took the time to visit classrooms, speak to students, and counsel through stories. We all remember the sports illustrations, the life object lessons, and wisdom that he tried to pour into us. We will long remember the meticulous care of the school’s lawn, the gentle redirection with his “wooden co-principal”, and the love that he had for students. He will often step from behind the principal’s desk and step into the classroom to teach mathematics.

In 1998, Mr. Nanton (although he did not normally drive a car while on Union Island) rented a car during the annual road-relay. While many wondered why, it soon became clear that this was not for his own enjoyment. It was his way of providing ambulance services (which the island did not have at the time) in the case of an emergency. Well, when I fell at the “crossroads” and an emergency ensued, it was Nanton and his rental car that transported me to get medical care. This was the wisdom of Oswald Nanton. This was the love for students that he possessed. He was constantly thinking about the students. And today, we can’t help but to think about him — his life, his legacy and his impact.

6 replies on “Tribute to Union Island’s longest serving secondary school principal”

  1. Calliaquaman says:

    RIP
    Calliaqua has lost about five people in last few months.

    Notably: Aswold and Sterling Nanton (brothers) and Paddy Morgan. You has make us proud in your humble ways. RIP. as you journey on.

    My condolences to all familes in my blessed locale who has lost love ones.

    Calliaquaman.

  2. Elliott Glasgow says:

    Sorry to hear of the passing the men above, especially Aswold, he was a very special guy, humble, kind, friendly, and involved in hos community. I blessed to have known him as my captain, and fellow cricketer.

  3. Steve Huggins says:

    He was a great. I came to know him through UWI, sports coaching, and our teaching profession. My sincerest CONDOLENCES to the family, other relatives and friends, and the Union Island Secondary School community, on the passing of my dear friend and colleague, Mr. Oswald Nanton, who was also a Premiere SVG National Cricketer of note. May he Rest In Peace. Most sincerely, Steve Lougheed Huggins.

  4. I personally think that Nkarlo has captured it well, with his tribute to Mr Nanton. Being a very strong student at mathematics, of which he was also, I was able to successfully complete the Mathematics program at the Advance level, because of his encouragement and support. Mr. Nanton, also allowed me to use one of the classrooms to give maths lessons on evening to form one students who were interested, with the permission of their parent that he would’ve spoken to. It was his idea that I do extra-lessons. Those are the two most memorable moments that will be forever etched in my mind of Mr. Nanton. Lovely soul, beautiful human being, disciplinarian in a unique way and one who was willing to share his life stories with us.
    Condolences to his family and friends, may you find peace and comfort in the fact that Mr Nanton would have positively impacted the lives of so many of us, young and old, on Union Island.
    May the blessings of the Lord be upon you. Peace

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