Darien Henry heads to MoBay Community CollegeThursday, September 09, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
MONTEGO BAY, St James
As of October 1, accomplished principal of Cumberland High School in St Catherine, Darien Henry will transition to his new post as head of the Montego Bay Community College (MBCC) in St James.
However, the high-performing educator said the work he had started to improve the performance of the once-troubled St Catherine based-school will not be scrapped.
Henry, who was reassigned from his post as lecturer at Excelsior Community College by the education ministry in 2017, to interim principal at Cumberland High, before his appointment as principal in 2019, argued that the school has undergone a vigorous transformation in respect to teaching and learning, student behaviour and development. He said the school was repurposed primarily to examine issues as it relates to literacy and numeracy and the augmentation of technical vocational education and training programmes, including City and Guilds and the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET).
“The truth is that we have made significant inroads with respect to the leadership and management of the school. We have been seen as a school that is much better in terms of how we are perceived by members of the public. In fact, our parents are seeing our school in a much better light. Our school has really improved in terms of its image, in terms of its aesthetics, in terms of the teaching and learning and in terms of the quality of the management of its NCTVET programmes,” stated Henry.
“The refocusing and repurposing of our TVET programme will continue. The school is in very good hands. There has always been continuity in respect to succession planning and the senior vice-principal, Mrs Diana Goslin-Green, will be acting as principal as I begin my transition from Cumberland High School.”
Henry said there are mixed feelings from the Cumberland family, which he had a fruitful and robust relationship, about his departure on September 30 to take up an opportunity to move to a different level of the education system where he can continue to deploy his visionary leadership.
However, he was quick to point out that Cumberland is currently in a good position to move forward.
“ The school is in better hands. The school is much better led and managed. No longer are we going to be accepting indiscipline behaviour from our students. We have a robust student engagement programme. We are very proud of the achievements of our school, how we manage teaching and learning online since the onset of the [novel coronavirus] pandemic,” expressed Henry.
He said the school community is proud of the way in which they were able to conduct online learning. In the same vein, Henry is encouraging the Ministry of Education, which, he said, does not have infinite financial resources to continue supporting Cumberland.
Leaving the south-eastern end of the island with several achievements under his belt to take up his new position in the west, the distinguished educator said he will be building on the legacy of his predecessor, Dr Maureen Nelson, a native of Hopewell, Hanover, who went on retirement after teaching for over 40 years.
Henry said the strategic plan 2020/2023 of the 46-year-old Government-owned Montego Bay-based tertiary institution that serves the western parishes of Trelawny, St James, Hanover and Westmoreland, is something that he has been studying, stressing that he intends to follow through on it.
“One of the main goals of the strategic plan is to see our institution being accredited as a university college. Acquiring that status is very, very important as we position ourselves,” stated Henry adding “I really have to congratulate the staff. They have really done excellent work over the last several years and it has given me a tremendous amount of platform to continue to build on that tradition of excellence that the college has been known for.”
“We have to make sure that we position ourselves to continue to be relevant and be prepared to take the community college to the next level of preparing a workforce for the future,” he argued.
MBCC board Chairman Stephen Dear says Henry will be an asset to the institution.
“He has proven to be a dynamic person who has done an incredible job with Cumberland High School to bring it to the stage that it is at presently,” stated Dear.
“While this will be his first post as a principal of a tertiary level educational institution, what we expect is that he will bring a certain level of dynamic leadership to the college.”
Added Dear: “We have many plans in discussion with him about the incredible potential of the college to go further. Right now we are exploring some vocational type programmes. We are also looking at programmes dedicated to males [so as] to try to increase the number of new students at the tertiary level.”
Henry, who received a National Journalism Award at age 17, spent 20 years in media from 1995 to 2015 — during which time he remained in the classroom.
He also taught at Jamaica College and Ardenne High School.
It was also during the same period that he pursued a bachelor's degree in education and principal training.
Now, he is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership from Temple University, United States of America.
In fact, Henry is not the only Jamaican educator enrolled at the institution. He said there are about 14 others.
“The programme is going extremely well, very rigorous. It is an excellent programme. Plus, I am among a team of Jamaican educators who are bright, they are forward-thinking, they are vigorous, they are focused and we are looking forward to adding a different kind of dimension to the education system. That is what is needed right now because we need fresh ideas. We have to carry that kind of intellectual energy to bring the system to a different kind of level. So, that is where we are right now. We are preparing ourselves to get additional global training, global outreach to understand the vicissitude of the educational and training system globally,” Henry argued.