Western Carolina University’s Jamaica Teacher’s Program recently held two commencement ceremonies in Kingston and Montego Bay.
In October 2022, faculty and staff from WCU’S College of Education and Allied Professions and the Division of Educational Outreach traveled to Jamaica to resume in-person classes for the first time since 2020 and to hold the commencement ceremonies for the final two bachelor of science in education cohorts to go through the program.
A combined 37 students received degrees from WCU during the ceremonies. Alumni that earned master’s degrees during the COVID-19 pandemic were also invited to walk in the in-person ceremony.
“The primary goal of the WCU Jamaica Teacher’s Program is to provide advanced studies in school leadership and in inclusive educational practices, areas on expertise needed in Jamaican schools,” said Carolyn Callaghan, executive director of the Division of Educational Outreach. “Additionally, a secondary goal is to enable Jamaican teachers to raise their teaching qualifications to the master’s level. Since the program's inception in the early 1970s, more than 4,000 Jamaican teachers have earned a bachelor of science in education degree from WCU.”
While bachelor’s degrees will no longer be offered, WCU will continue to offer master’s in education degree programs in Kingston, Montego Bay and Discovery Bay.
The program began in 1970 when a select group of student teachers from WCU were chosen to complete their student teaching internship in Jamaica. These students were interested in acquiring a meaningful educational experience in another culture.
“The Jamaican Ministry of Education invited WCU’s College of Education and Allied Professions to offer a bachelor's degree program to a select cadre of highly motivated and bright Jamaican teachers who hold a diploma from a three-year Jamaican teacher’s college,” said Kim Winter, dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions. “The first cohort pursued a concentration in guidance and counseling to fulfill a need in Jamaican schools at the time.”
Since then, concentrations have also been offered in school administration, special education, early childhood education and math/science.
In addition, a graduate degree in educational supervision was added in the late 90s and special education was added in 2018.
For more information about the program, visit jamaica.wcu.edu.