A mediocre teacher explains.. A great teacher inspires

Prof. W. R. Breckenbridge

Prof. W. R. Breckenbridge (1999 – 2003)

Trinity has been blessed by a galaxy of illustrious principals and to that company Prof. Breckenridge was invited by the Board of Governors to be the sixteenth principal of the school in its 127th year.

“Breck” as he is affectionately termed by his contemporaries and associates was no stranger to Trinity. The Breckenridge family’s association with school stretches almost a 100 years and Breck himself had his entire education at Trinity. Breck joined Trinity as Principal retiring prematurely from the University of Peradeniya as Professor of Zoology having served the University as Teacher, Researcher and Administrator for over a period of four decades.

The approach of Breck to education and the direction that he gave the school could be gauged by the observations he made in his first Prize Day Speech in 1999. When he said “our students must not merely centre their lives around books and examinations, games and other school activities. They must also remain alive to the world around them, to the problems that our people face, to the advance and successes of the country as well as its weaknesses and failings. Then only can they say that they are educated in the truest sense of the word.” It is in this light that Breck’s period in office has to be judged and in that light he surely succeeded in that he left a sure foundation and gave the school a clear mission and direction as to its future development.

If one evaluates his period one could discern that Breck concentrated three primary areas. Firstly, he strove to improve the academic standards and achievements. As he said in his first Prize Day Speech the academic programme must necessarily take pride of place. Accordingly he strengthened the Advance level programmes improving the laboratories and class rooms a fact which is clearly evident today. Breck was always of the view that the advance level students from the key component of the school as in his view they were the students who set the standard for the rest of the school. It was Breck who was instrumental in boldly introducing the English medium for the 6th grade students and today this has proved to be a success. He also commenced the Advanced level programme in English in addition to the existing Sinhala and Tamil.

Secondly, Breck concentrated on upgrading the physical environment of the school namely, the buildings and surrounding campus. Towards this end he set up a school Advisory Committee made up of eminent old boys with wide experience body who met regularly were responsible for the development of the school, the raising funds, expansion of the activities of the school, etc. Results of these activities are so evident in the impeccably beautiful campus of the school today.

Thirdly, he strengthened the existing institutions of the school. Towards this end he encouraged wider participation in the numerous societies of the school and encouraged wider use of the English language. He energized the TCLA, the Drama Society, the Historical and Geographical Society and all the other school societies and made them an integral part of the students growth in school.

He restructured the upper school with the establishment of a middle school with its own Headmaster. This has resulted in the development of this section of the school giving far greater flexibility in its programmes and eventually having and identity of its own: a part of the school yet independent of the senior and the junior schools. He also restructured the boarding house.

His influence could also be seen in the attention he paid to the development of the teaching skills of the staff with the organization of workshops ensuring that this staff attended regular refresher courses.

Breck also realized the central role that the Chapel played in the life of the school. He printed a new hymn book for the use of the school and encouraged the active participation in Chapel worship both by the staff and the students. Further he encouraged the choir in all its activities. Amidst all these he did not forget the school farm, the farm which was in a derelict state at the time he became principal was in flourishing state of activity at the time he retired from the post.
All in all the five years has been an era when Breck stamped his own personality and vision on the future development of the school. He left the school financially sound, administratively strengthened and academically much improved- He was not a flamboyant person but brought a quiet dignity to the post of principal.

There is no doubt at the end of his stewardship he ensured that the students who graduated from the school were educated in the truest sense of the word. We could well say with his Master “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.


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