Eugene John Laurent was born in Blanchisseuse on April 4th, 1904. He never met either his mother or his father in his life. He was raised by his paternal grandmother, Ballentyne Laurent (Ma Jean), and his Aunt, Priscilla Laurent (Miss Vee), both of Arima.
For primary education, he attended the Arima Boys’ RC school. He eventually became a monitor at that school. In 1919, he passed the second year Pupil Teachers’ Examination. The following year he successfully completed his third year of that examination.
In 1921, he was awarded a three (3) year bursary to St. Mary’s College, where he sat and passed the Junior Cambridge Examination with passes in eleven subjects.
In 1924, he entered the Government Teachers’ Training College from which he emerged as a qualified teacher. His first posting in 1927 was as Assistant Teacher at Arima Boys’ Government.
In 1933, he was transferred from Arima, first to Tranquility Government in Port of Spain. In 1936, he received his first appointment as a Head Master. The school was Maracas Government. In 1939 he was posted to Hardbargain Government School where he served until his return to Arima Boys’ Government in 1948.
During his tenure at A.B.G. the school excelled scholastically. Every year, the list of College Exhibition winners grew. Apart from academic achievements, Arima Boys’ Government, under his care, won many sporting and cultural laurels. His last teaching post was at The Tranquility Government Intermediate School.
Eugene John Laurent became a teacher by profession and by nature. Everything that he learned he felt compelled to teach to someone else. The metaphor of his teaching career was a lit candle. He gratefully received his “light” from his mentors. In turn, he taught anything he knew, as a way of lighting the wicks of others, and brightening any darkness in his space.
After retirement from the Teaching Service he continued to serve in Education. He taught at Holy Cross College and at Arima High School ( Hinds’ School). At his home, he conducted classes for both secondary school students and mature students who sought to improve their academic grades. In this post-retirement period, he was enlisted as a member of the National Rent Control Board, a position which he held until mere months before his death.
He was an accomplished musician, who, apart from teaching music privately, had, at times, performed the duty of organist at both the Santa Rosa Catholic, and the St. Jude’s Anglican Churches. One of his pupils, Miss Andrea Elvira Marin of Sangre Grande, became his wife in August of 1934, a union that lasted for 54 years until his death.
The marriage produced two children Eugene Jnr., and Valerie Andrea.
In 1962, his initial contribution of $10.00 was the genesis of the Teachers’ Credit Union. He was the first foundation member and the first President of that organisation. On its 25th Anniversary, in 1987, he was honoured by the TCU for these roles.
For his role as a mentor in the Arima Community, Eugene John Laurent has over the years been showered with praises from notable Gens D’Arime such as Holly Betaudier , Aldwyn Roberts (Lord Kitchener) and Neil Giuseppi. In the year 1983, the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago awarded him, on Independence Day, a medal for Outstanding and Meritorious Service in the field of Education.
As a Headmaster, Eugene Laurent befriended the teachers who worked with him but was not overly sociable. When he moved to Arima from Hardbargain, he became involved with a group of men, indigenous Arimians – “Gens d’Arime,” the popular name for them, who got together every afternoon for a “Boys’ Lime” – old talk and some drinks.
It was a motley crowd of men from various walks of life held together by their love for Arima. The meeting place was the tailor shop of a friend called George Carr. After a while, having accommodated people in the “lime” who went on to become important persons in society, the tailor shop gathering came to be known as “The House of Lords”. The “House of Lords” was a well-known gathering place in Arima for years.
Eugene John Laurent died on the 6th of November, 1988.
By Kazim Abasali
Kazim Abasali is a multimedia artist who enjoys creating his empowering and inspiring art, music, videos, ebooks, published articles, and websites, for himself and others. To access his artistic projects, kindly visit his website.
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