The Mico University College awards students post-practicum
Keynote speaker Dr Karren Dunkley encourages the soon-to-be teachers to own the teaching profession and reminds them that even with the advances in technology, the success of many students is linked to the effectiveness of teachers.

THREE hundred and fifty-six final-year students of The Mico University College were awarded for completing the practicum component of their teacher training, in a hybridised virtual/physical Awards and Appreciation Ceremony at Heritage Park at the college in St Andrew last Thursday.

Under the theme ‘Revolutionising Teacher Education Through Digital Technology’, the students drawn from the 20 undergraduate programmes in the Faculty of Education’s Department of Professional Studies were lauded for embracing technology, rising to the challenge and being benchmarks of excellence in the face of the pandemic.

The practicum was competed in 172 schools – a combination of early childhood, primary, secondary, and special education institutions across Jamaica – between January and May 2022. It is noteworthy that 300 students complete the final practicum process in several school across the island each year.

The practicum, known as the Reflective Practicum In School Immersion Part B, is one of three mandatory practicum components of undergraduate and graduate teacher training programmes, and has been in place since the inception of the institution. It is designed to give students, supervised hands-on training in the classroom, allowing them to put theory into practise.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Jamaica Diaspora Northeast USA representative Dr Karren Dunkley encouraged the ‘soon-to-be’ teachers to reignite greatness in their students, adding that technology allows them to be part of a borderless community of practice. Dr Dunkley, a prominent US educator who hails from Jamaica, charged students to ‘own’ the profession, reminding them that no profession is possible without a teacher and that the number one indicator of student success is teacher effectiveness. “All the technology will not substitute for good relationships with and the impact of teachers,” she said.

In her recorded address, acting permanent secretary in the education ministry Maureen Dwyer commended the institution for being proactive and responsive to societal demands and said the institution will undoubtedly continue to produce well-trained teachers.

The pandemic resulted in The Mico having to conduct assessments in the virtual space and all three phases of the practicum experience were conducted online. Expressing pride in the performance of the students, senior lecturer and coordinator of the Practicum Unit Alvin Lawson noted that they were not deterred or derailed by the challenges of the pandemic.

The 172 partnering schools were saluted for providing the opportunity for the students and organisations such as the Jamaica Teaching Council, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), the JTA Coop Credit Union and EduCom Co-operative Credit union were acknowledged for their contribution to the practicum and to the event.

President of the University College Dr Asburn Pinnock congratulated the students for their resilience, agility and unwavering determination in the way they have embraced technology and executed teaching practice. He said by their performance they have demonstrated the core values of The Mico – service, leadership, integrity and excellence.

Students who placed first in their respective programmes received special awards. The first-place award in the Faculty of Science and Technology went to Nasheon Wray, who also copped the top prize overall. The first-place award in the Faculty of Humanities and Liberal Arts went to Chavel Stewart, and the top award in the Faculty of Education was won by Paul Henry.

The Mico University College is the oldest teacher training institution in the Western Hemisphere, and is celebrating its 186th year.

Nasheon Wray (left), who placed first in the Faculty of Science and Technology and was the overall top student, receives his award from The Mico University College President Dr Asburn Pinnock.
President of The Mico University College, Dr Asburn Pinnock congratulates trainee teachers for rising to the challenge, embracing technology, and completing their practicum in 172 schools.
Keynote speaker Dr Karren Dunkley has the rapt attention of The Mico University College President Dr Asburrn Pinnock (left) and Alvin Lawson, senior lecturer and practicum coordinator.

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