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The Morant Bay International Sister Schools Initiative

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Contact: A. McDonald Vaz, Public Relations, InCITES, LLC

InCITES, LLC (International Classroom Innovative Teacher Education Services), has been sharing educational expertise with Jamaican teachers and schools for many years. This initiative started in the early 1990s by Dr. Burnie Hines, who is now the CEO (Chief Education Officer) of InCITES, LLC. As a classmate, who migrated to the United States some years ago, I was immediately drawn to the philosophy and educational perspectives of Dr. Hines. I have since pursued a different career, in keeping with InCITES, LLC, which maintains that we are all lifelong learners, with a cadre of Intelligences beyond that determined by IQ scores. I am a firm believer in this philosophy. I came to realize that the issue that I brought to focus, in the book The Doctor He Begged to Be is firmly grounded in the theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Since the early years, InCITES, LLC has been focusing attention on the theory and philosophy of Multiple Intelligences. We have also been articulating this philosophy on a classroom management platform called Cooperative Learning, and both theories and philosophy work extremely well together. As I came to realize, Cooperative Learning is part and parcel of the Multiple Intelligences philosophy, fitting seamlessly within the parameters of the Interpersonal Intelligence. We have been informed, recently, that the Jamaican Ministry of Education has identified Cooperative Learning as the classroom management and teaching practice that will be employed by teachers, to facilitate the learning process for both traditional as well as nontraditional learners. It would be a sensible move, on the part of the Ministry of Education, to talk with us at InCITES, LLC. Dr. Burnie Hines is a Jamaican Educator who has taught and administered in schools in the United States, and his generosity has allowed him to contribute greatly to Jamaica over the years. I am pleased to be associated with InCITES, LLC.

On to Morant Bay

The Morant Bay Sister Schools initiative is a collaborative effort that goes well beyond just helping out in Jamaican Schools. It should be noted that the Morant Bay Primary School has been targeted for the second Sister Schools partnership in a Multicultural Theme Initiative from Hartford, Connecticut. Why Morant Bay, and not a school in South Manchester where Dr. Hines was born, and where he grew up? Why not a school in Westmoreland, where Donnie Vaz grew up? It is a part of a collaborative effort on the part of the City of Hartford, and the Dr. Michael D. Fox Elementary School in that city.

Each school in the city of Hartford is under a mandate to create Magnet Schools, in a response to a legal settlement of a suit to desegregate Hartford’s schools. Dr. Burnie Hines, Assistant Principal at M.D. Fox School, designed a program with a Multicultural theme, “Multicultural Windows to the World”, and went to the Mayor of the City of Hartford, in search of funding for this very ambitious program. One piece of this Multicultural Theme was to establish Sister Schools Partnerships on an international basis, as well as in the United States. Dr. Hines, and a team of educators were planning to establish some Sister School in Puerto Rico. Since the present Mayor of Hartford is a Puerto Rican, the team felt that he would be willing to assist with funding for airfare, accommodation, travel, etc.

The Mayor, the Hon. Eddie Perez, listened to the proposal presented by Dr. Hines, and decided that it was an excellent educational outreach. However, the Mayor had one concern, which he made known, along with a suggestion. The City of Hartford had started a Sister Cities program, and had established Sister City relationships in many countries, Puerto Rico being one of them. The Mayor suggested that he would be willing to support Dr. Hines’ Sister Schools program if the Sister Schools were established in Hartford’s Sister Cities in each country that was targeted. It should be noted that the first Sister School in Dr. Hines’ initiative was in Jamaica, at the Independence City Primary School. This was the second year of the program, and Puerto Rico was an important target. Over 70% of the students at M.D. Fox Elementary School are Puerto Rican, and the first Sister School could have been established in Puerto Rico. However, because Dr. Hines is a Jamaican, he felt more comfortable starting this ambitious experiment in his homeland, where he had been working with schools and educators for a long time. The Mayor’s suggestion was gladly accepted, and the next question was where to find information on Hartford’s Sister Cities. Mayor Perez informed Dr. Hines, who was scheduled to visit Jamaica for a Sister School’s anniversary program, that Morant Bay was Hartford’s Sister City in Jamaica. The Mayor also identified Caguas as Hartford’s Sister City in Puerto Rico. This was all the information that Dr. Hines needed.

Before visiting Jamaica, on April 15, 2004, InCITES, LLC contacted the Principal of the Morant Bay Primary School, and had scheduled a visit. Dr. Hines confessed that he had never been to Morant Bay before, and was anxious to visit this historic town. This mission was accomplished even before the official agenda for the Sister School celebration got underway at the Independence City Primary School. In addition to visiting the Morant Bay Primary School, Dr. Hines, armed with a digital camera, went in search of National Hero Paul Bogle and the Morant Bay Court House (see picture). From information received from the first citizen that happened to pass before his camera lens, Dr. Hines learned that the Mayor’s Office was right there at the Court House. The Mayor, the Hon. Joan Spencer, was not in her chambers. The Deputy Mayor was also out on Business, but Mr. Clinton Gordon, the Town Manager, cordially received Dr. Hines, on behalf of the Mayor, (see picture). Mr. Gordon expressed keen interest in the development of the Sister Cities relationship, and proudly pointed to the proclamation from a former Hartford Mayor. It was hanging on the wall of the Mayor’s office. He was very impressed when he learned that the current Mayor of Hartford, the Hon. Eddie Perez, was continuing the Sister Cities initiative.

The visit to Morant Bay Primary School was as inspiring as the visit to the Town Hall. The Principal of the school, Mrs. Faloon, posed with Dr. Hines, for pictures. She also got a class of students to pose, as pictures were sent back, as a welcome gesture to the new Sister Schools partnership that was underway. Plans will be developed, and the inaugural ceremony for the Sister Schools partnership will take place in April 2005. While there is a lot to be gained from these international alliances, world-class education is the main goal. The main emphasis is on Pen Pal letter writing between the students at both schools. In these letters, academic information, as well as cultural experiences are shared. Teachers get involved in staff development, and there is even the possibility of teacher and student exchange as the partnerships mature, and funds become available.

Programs, such as these, that InCITES, LLC operates, are mainly voluntary, and the organization does not have a consistent source of funding. Dr. Hines, and all his associates donate their time and pay their own expenses to make these contributions. We appreciate the benevolence of those of us who continue to support programs that help others, especially in Jamaica. Please feel free to contact InCITES, LLC with comments and contributions. A proposal is available to people who are interested in contributing to our programs. Dr. Hines can be reached by phone, e-mail, or snail mail. Contributions can be written to InCITES, LLC, and addressed to 27 Forest Lane, Bloomfield, CT 06002, USA. If you prefer to contact Dr. Hines by e-mail, the address is [email protected]. Phone numbers are (860) 243-1864 (Office), (860) 778-8292 (cell). In Jamaica, information can be left at (876) 404-1201, with Mr. Robert Golding, a member of the team. To reach InCITES, LLC’s Sister School in Jamaica, contact Mrs. Paulette Stewart, Coordinator. Her address is Independence City Primary School, 10 Tampa Avenue, Gregory Park, St. Catherine, Jamaica W.I.. The phone number is (876) 389-6094, and her e-mail address is [email protected]. You can reach A. McDonald Vaz at e-mail: [email protected] or at (407) 822-0900.

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