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Friends shocked over sudden death of Tobago educator Mary Hall

Corey Connelly In this 1987 photo, Mary and Tony Hall are seen after they moved to Tobago. She later started the MK Hall Community School in 1994. -
In this 1987 photo, Mary and Tony Hall are seen after they moved to Tobago. She later started the MK Hall Community School in 1994. -

MARY DENA HALL, former principal of the Michael K Hall Community School in Carnbee, Tobago, has died.

Hall, wife of late theatre luminary Tony Hall, passed away on March 30 at her home in Carnbee, her friend Pat Ganase told Sunday Newsday. She would have celebrated her 74th birthday in September. Her husband died of a heart attack at the age of 71 in April 26, 2020.

Ganase, a writer, columnist and communications consultant, said Hall had been feeling unwell for a couple of weeks.

“But it was nothing that she thought that the visit to the doctor and some meds couldn’t fix,” she said via WhatsApp.

Ganase said Hall’s death was a shock to many people, including her two children Mauri and Lindsay, both of whom are attending university in Canada.

A trained educator, Hall grew up in a big family in Alberta, Canada. She moved to Tobago with her husband in 1987 and started the Michael K Hall Community School in 1994. It was named after her husband’s father.

The school, which catered to a small number of pupils, focused heavily on critical thinking and was regarded as an “innovative” learning institution on the island.

Ganase said Hall, who closed the school in 2019, had devoted her life to education.

“Her legacy are the people who went through her one-room school in Tobago from four years to 12-plus citizens of the world.”

She added the school was a family.

“She was open and straightforward with her teachers as she was with the children.”

Ganase said one of Hall’s Tobago students said to her on Friday, “Aunty Mary changed our mindset of what school was, of how we learned.”

She said she had known Hall since the early 1980s.

“We were neigbours for a number of years. We were close as families. We spent time together whenever I was on vacation in Tobago.”

THA Secretary of Education, Research and Technology Zorisha Hackett said she was shocked to learn of Hall’s passing.

She said her daughter had attended the school.

“She followed the Montessori model of education where she encouraged students to learn through play and I found it to be a very out-of-the-box, not globally, but out-of-the-box in terms of the Caribbean and the TT model of education and I was very, very impressed by what my daughter was able to learn there,” Hackett told Sunday Newsday in a WhatsApp voicenote.

Hall, she said, was a stickler for creativity and exposing students to as many possibilities and opportunities as possible.

“My daughter had the opportunity to learn three languages, get into the arts. So she learnt the piano, ballet, horseback riding, chess, everything that would enhance her critical thinking skills, creativity and individualism. And I really appreciated that.”

But Hackett said her daughter yearned for more engagement and other types of activities.

“My daughter wanted some more socialisation and because it was a very small school, we were not getting that there. So I eventually moved her to Scarborough RC.

“It was a really small school, less that 50 in total, and my daughter was yearning for a larger student population and for more competition and to be able to participate in other activities such as brownies and actually interact and interface with other schools which that school did not really do. So that is why I moved her.”

Hackett said she was very sorry to learn of her passing.

“I wish the family condolences and I wish that her soul transitions peacefully.”

Hall leaves to mourn, her two children, Mauri and Lindsay as well as daughter-in-law, Lisa and grandchildren Maya, Mason and Ayla.