PUBLISHED IN THE JAMAICAN GLEANER
SEPTEMBER 21, 2014
"I was born where jerk pork originated - eight-penny jerk and hard-dough bread, to be specific," chuckles Dr Barbara Buckley-Jones. Born in the beautiful north east coastal parish of Portland, Dr Buckley-Jones is the last of 11 children born to Agatha and Jeremiah Buckley. Dr Buckley-Jones began her studies at Boston Primary School and later advanced to Titchfield High School where she thrived in netball as her five-feet-11-inches frame gave her a competitive advantage. After completing high school, she pursued her undergrad degree in the arts at the University of the West Indies.
Her teaching career led her to Knox College in Clarendon, where she would eventually retire after serving for 35 years, 15 of which were as the school's principal. While teaching at Knox, Dr Buckley-Jones was a key member of Jamaica's netball team to the West Indies. She served as captain to the Jamaican team when they played in other Caribbean islands such as Barbados, St Vincent, St Lucia, Trinidad, and Montserrat. She tells Outlook, "Though my teammates and I were isolated from our brothers and sisters, travelling overseas made us realise that we were more similar than different. Being captain, I learnt to deal with many different personalities and, during our travels, we formed a lifelong bond. Even now, so many years later, we meet to reminisce about fellowship and past games." She led the team to the World Tournament in Eastbourne, South Wimbledon, England, and in 1960, she was named Sportswoman of the Year.
In 1962, Dr Buckley-Jones married Leo Jones (now deceased) and together they were blessed with five children. Being a mother was a natural progression from being a teacher and captain.
She tells Outlook, "When I got married and had my own children, it was easy for me, because I treat my students like my own." She says that her profession as teacher at the college was joyful as she had ample care from all the nannies and other teachers who would look out for her children. She says unequivocally that, because her children were raised in an academic environment, it helped to shape them. "Also, the international teachers on the campus helped to broaden their horizons, mine and the other students."
One wonders how many lives Dr Buckley-Jones has touched over her expansive career, but one doesn't have to go too far. Lifestyle's editor was a student of hers and remembers her being "a remarkable woman, full of grace and a genuine love for all the students". After this interview, the summer was blessed with a heavy downpour and I was invited to join her for an impromptu lunch - complete with fine china and table settings fit for dignitaries. While we ate and talked about her garden and how grateful she was for the rain, she spoke at length of a tree she planted for a young
student who had drowned many years ago.
She also answered some questions I threw her way.
Where Is Your Dream International Vacation Spot And Why?
I would love to visit Oxford University in England where I can walk around the campus and soak in the grandeur of the old buildings and enjoy looking at the beautiful flowers and lawns.
How Do You Spend Your Weekends?
I love tending to my garden, cooking meals, and having family and friends over. She also enjoys spending time babysitting her
Who Is Your Favourite Author?
Agatha Christie. I love mysteries, once you start with a Christie, you can't put it down, she takes you along these devious pathways and you want nothing but to read to
figure them out.
Where Is Your Favourite Vacation Spot In Jamaica?
Jewel Resort in Ocho Rios, it's very relaxing and the lawns are so very well kept and manicured. While I'm there, it feels as if I'm away from Jamaica, and it offers a true getaway.
Best Advice You Have Ever Received?
My mother taught me that when I am friends with someone, to always lift them up, and to not take them for granted. That advice has since stayed with me.
What Is Your Favourite Charity?
Most of her charity work is done without fanfare; "I help out wherever I can. However, I am a supporter of the Red Cross, the Member of United Nations Association, and the Friends of Percy Junor Hospital." As I spent the day with her, I realised that her thoughts run deep and her words are carefully thought out, gentle but firm. I reflected on what my editor said and thought, indeed, what a remarkable woman this is, it is no wonder she epitomises the definition of 'Beyond Beauty'.