RIP Roland Branch, the CCSS “superstar teacher”

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RIP Roland Branch, the CCSS “superstar teacher”
Ronald Branch, left, with a past student.
Roland Branch, left, with a past student.

Roland Gaspard Branch, a beloved retired teacher of the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School (CCSS), has passed away.

Reports are that Branch, who was ailing from a stroke, passed away at a local hospital at about 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 11.

Tributes have begun pouring out on social media from past students of Branch, who was well known as a disciplinarian and an avid sports lover, being a member of Oriole house at the school.

Stephan Regis, a CCSS past student, told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) that Branch, also called ‘Starry’, was “loved by a lot” of people.

“He would always visit the school. He was passionate about his inter-house sports. He taught social studies and geography and was well known for going around to ensure uniforms are in check, especially the girls’ skirts are long enough,” Regis said.

Writing on St. Lucians Aiming for Progress (SLAPS) Facebook group page, another past student, John Alvin Sealy said: “Now I really did not expect that. Just this afternoon our group (CCSS class of 79) were at the school and the good times we had with you were part of the discussion. You were certainly one of my teacher role models. I tried to master the content of whatever I taught in the same manner you did with Geography.

“I tried to draw the world map and the circle without a compass the same way you did. I tried to familiarize myseIf thoroughly with whatever text books my students were using in the same way you did. I tried to get in involved in my school house in whatever school I taught at in the same manner you were part of Oriole, your House. I have told you so personally and i have written it elsewhere however I will say it again. You Roland “Starry’ Branch was an inspiration to me. RIP my teacher. Sometimes, life can be so cruel. Just over one year ago I lost one of my best friends, Cyprien Jose Gouloo Simon, the best Common Entrance teacher I knew. Now I have lost the best secondary school teacher I ever had.”

In an online interview with SNO, Sealy said Branch was one of the first local teachers at the school in 1974.

“He retired three years ago. He was both football and cricket coach at one time. Mind you, he could not play football and his cricket was limited to bowling softball (wind ball).  As a geography teacher, he was a tough marker and it was always said that if you can pass his exam then you can pass CXC or GCE,” Sealy added.

The past student further stated: “His house at the school was Oriole with yellow as its colour.  He turned his homeroom yellow. His rag in his pocket was yellow, his blackboard duster was yellow.  All classroom objects that could be yellow was yellow. He probably had the largest private local collection of the National Geographic magazine. He had the ability to quote the text book by page and paragraph from the top of his head. He was more than just a teacher, he was a friend and counsellor.”

Sealy, who went on pre-retirement leave four days ago, was a communications officer at the Ministry of Education. Prior to that, he was a teacher at the RC Boys Primary and Vide Bouteille Secondary schools.

Meanwhile, Carlton Roberts, also a CCSS past student, told SNO that Branch was a “superstar teacher” who was “bigger than teaching itself”.

Roberts, chief executive officer of Rush Transport and Business Services and CEO of RiddimNation Ent., who works and resides in Toronto, Canada, said Branch’s passion drove him to a lot of boundaries.

Roberts added: “He was as down to earth as igneous rock itself. He would walk around in his slippers and his yellow Oriole colours. That was his pride and joy. Oriole solid gold, as he used to say. A very no-nonsense, humble, direct and fair man. In his retirement, his re-enforcement was evident in that he would always let his past students know how proud he was of them. I’m one of the lucky few who got the chance to actually thank him for his service.

Roberts posted a poem in tribute of the late teacher on Facebook.
As Tiny Tim embarks on his latest journey
he leaves those of us he taught with a story
be it the battles of Oriole solid Gold
or plate tectonics, he gave his heart and soul
a true man amongst men.. unafraid of institution
every ready to help mould a generation
i remember our last conversation..
in which i thanked you for your contribution
you told me that you were proud of me..
but it was you who armed me with the tools to break free
i feel proud to be one of your soldiers
and this poem is dedicated to you.. so that everyone remembers..
The man,The legend.. Our teacher.. Our friend
…. Dr. Roland Branch..
lol as u would say “aye boy what u doing dere”
Have a safe journey.. Tiny Tim Rides again –

– Carlton Roberts

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31 COMMENTS

  1. I am very sorry to hear about your loss. Some comforting scriptures that help me to cope is acts 24:15 and psalm 34:18 i look forward to the time when death will be no more isaiah 25:8

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  2. Sir ,
    The pleasure was all mine for you sent us all packing on a world journey of Geography! The places we spoke of during and after class. . Have all become a reality . Rest in Peace . May your family find strength to deal with your passing .

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  3. Awwww 🙁 RIP Mr. Branch...Can still see you wiping your sweaty forehead from frustration with some of us Form 5 's (1980).... Until, Sir !

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  4. Mr.Branch I pray your family find comfort and peace during this difficult time. You encouraged me to participate in sporting activities, and was very passionate about be an oriolite. You will be missed.

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  5. RIP MR BRANCH. You were a true soldier. A very caring and concerned teacher. You have no idea how many lives you touched, how many you impacted and how many you molded. Your legend will live on.

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  6. Stroke Busters Association, SLU, express condolences to Ruth, Ruland and Ruan on the death of our beloved Roland Branch.

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  7. Roland, we will meet again at that great meeting in the air, at the last trumpet sound!!
    What a privilege to have looked after your two children, Ruland and Ruan, from birth till five years, at my nursery. You and Ruth were supportive and exemplary parents. Our friendship continued throughout the years, and now this big shock. Christians never say "goodbye", because of our blessed hope of a resurrection in Christ. Sleep well until the call, my friend. My prayers are for Ruth and the children to be courageous and do not sorrow as those who have no hope. We know better.

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  8. He was one of those whose desir was not about money, but about students, discipline and oriole.I don't know many people of his quality but it was really a deep example.However, I really do think that he was rich...the kind of wealth no one can steal but all will see and admire. Am happy to have had the opportunity to sit in your class and see bangladesh and your exhaustive stone collections.

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  9. Just as 'Robbi' said: " is a dead hero society, after we dead that's when they honor we......"
    You were a great Role model Mr. Branch, I will never forget every time I passed by your classroom I would see these words: ORIOLE IS SOLID GOLD, ORIOLE JUST HAVE TOO MUCH SOUL. May your soul rest in peace.

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  10. Roland Branch in my mind was s teacher legend. His dedication and contributions went beyond the salary he earned and the normal school hours. A simple, resourceful and humble man. Arguably the best geography teacher ever. He had the ability to simplify and make geography come alive. I remember him developing an illustration for Stalactites and Stalagmites. In his typical style he explained: "to know which ones are Stalactites just relate to the notion of being high and for Stalagmites remember termites. Now tell me which teacher could deliver such a classic illustration? RB a humble Giant

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  11. Another great SMC inspirational old scholar passes the baton to a younger generation. Didn't know he was sick. RIP "Starry"!

    A shameless bias, indeed. But Saint Lucia and the world were better places with you around.

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  12. He was one of my favourite teachers, he was able to get CCSS football Team to play in the St.Lucia football league Competition Second Division in 1976 He was both my
    coach & mentor.

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  13. Mr. Branch was by far the most memorable teacher when I look back at my CCSS days. He must have taught every student who grace those hallowed walls. He was truly a caring and learned teacher. He will forever be missed.

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  14. WHAT A GREAT MAN AND GREAT CONTRIBUTION YOU MADE TO MANY OF OUR LIVES! YOU WERE TRULY ONE OF THE VERY FEW DEDICATED ONES….YOU HAVE GONE TO A BETTER PLACE AND WITHOUT A DOUBT YOU LIVED YOUR LIFE!! GOD TAKE MR.BRANCH WITH OPEN ARMS!!! GOD BLESS YOU MY FRIEND!!!

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  15. Remember our class trip to Bangladesh, lol, great teacher #teamoriole , you will be missed. Rip Mr. Branch

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  16. Till we meet again my Sir , thanks for the lessons they've taken me far. Thanks for your encouragement I pray that your family is strengthened to handle the necessary. We love you Branch !

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  17. Very humble....very unassuming. He was an acquaintance for many years, but unfortunately it's only now that I'm seeing these posts, I realize what an immense contribution he made to our St.Lucian society. Thank you Mr.Branch. R.I.P

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  18. all i remember about him was his subpar attempts at tormenting me and passing in the bins to collect food for his dogs after lunch time but some students loved him wat can i say......RIP

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  19. Yes he lived in cedas, father to a great friend, ruland branch, rest in peace may ur hard work and mentorship live to serve ur family

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  20. He was a rock in my life which didn't end when my student life ended. He was supportive even at a distance 23 years later was still in touch and was able to provide me assistance when I sought his help for a character reference years later.

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  21. Codolences to the family. Did not know he was sick until yesterday and got news of his passing later that night.last time I saw him alive, we spoke for a long time, He said to me I admire you because you're 'always smiling even when things are bad. Always encouraging me and lecturing my son telling him to do his best in school. . Roland you were a good friend. Rest in Peace. No more stress, No more worries No more Suffering. Hope we meet again someday. Goodbye my friend, goodbye

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  22. I had the opportunity to be taught by Roland Branch as past student of CCSS. Earlier this year he and I had a lengthy telephone discussion about himself, his situation, his retirement and naturally our days at CCSS. I recall the days in his class, his impeccable memory, his impressive class library which was second to none at the school. These books were always neatly kept and he knew to find every topic in each book for buttress any point he was making during the lesson. What a teacher! He disciplined me about something which I never agreed to up to today and we touched on that in our phone call. There was no animosity, but mutual respect and admiration. I tremendously appreciative of "Sir"as we all called him and his phone call to me will always be cherished. He shared somethings with me about himself that was very touching and was painful to witness a brilliant teacher with that many years of sterling service would be left to endure such a difficult situation. I call on all students, current and past, to reach out to a retired tired teacher especially those who need help in whatever way. It is time to give back. RIP Teacher Branch.

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  23. Really sad to read this article. Words can not describe my feelings. My special and respected teacher has gone into the great unkown. He helped me tremendously during a time of developing my identity. Thanks Sir. RIP.

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