A Gift That Deserves Recognition

Senator Floyd Morris, from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, was finally shaking hands with Dr. Burnie Hines, a School Administrator from Hartford. Dr. Paul Robertson, M.P. for South St. Catherine, was standing by, as was Mrs. Ann Marie Hall, the Education Officer for South St. Catherine. This was an unusual gathering, at the Independence City Primary School, on Tampa Avenue in Gregory Park. There was also excitement in the air, as staff and students put the finishing touches on the preparation for what a printed program called “The International Sister Schools First Anniversary Celebration.” As Dr. Hines explains, the International Sister Schools Program is an outgrowth of a mandate, in the State of Connecticut, that resulted from a lawsuit to desegregate Hartford schools. Dr. Hines, a Jamaican, is in charge of the program and, to no one’s surprise, the first International Sister Schools partnership was developed between the Dr. Michael D. Fox Elementary School, in Hartford, and the Independence City Primary School, in Gregory Park, St. Catherine. How Independence City Primary School, (ICPS), ended up in this enviable position, is a study in coincidence, and best reserved for another article.

Senator Morris, in his short speech, professed that he had come to know Dr. Hines, as a brother, over the past year. What had brought them so closely together was the mutual travail they went through in the attempt to get a Computer Lab set up at ICPS. Procuring the computers was not a problem. Dr. Hines had donated them to the school, as a part of the Sister Schools program. The difficulty of getting the computers to Jamaica was also overcome through the generosity of people such as MS Dorrett Allen, a Jamaican living in New York. She donated money to help pay for the shipment of 15 complete computer units through Continental Shipping. Mr. De Souza, a Jamaican, owns this shipping company, and he covered the rest of the cost for shipping the computers.

The program was enjoyable and entertaining, but the promise made by Dr. Paul Robertson, to help render the computer lab safe for the equipment, was what everyone wanted to hear. Mr. Gladstone Reid, ICPS Principal, had introduced Dr. Robertson as a friend of the school. The Principal pointed out that the MP had fulfilled promises to the school before, and he was certain that Dr. Robertson would continue to do so.

It was time for us to visit the Computer Lab. It was set up for the occasion, but would be dismantled, and the computers returned to a safe place until the room was made secure. Senator Morris was anxious to get to the Lab. He had worked hard to secure three computers for two schools he has been supporting in rural Jamaica, and Dr. Hines had told him that his computers were ready for him to take, after the program. Dr. Robertson sat at a computer terminal, and Mr. Campbell, Chairman of the School Board, pulled up a chair and joined him, (see picture). The MP grabbed hold of the computer mouse and clicked away, observing the computer screen as he did so. All computers were operating on the Windows 2000 platform, and were loaded with some of the most modern software. Dr. Hines explained one of the critical programs on the desktop. It is called “Professor Teaches Windows.” As Dr. Robertson navigated, he observed that any person could access the computer program, and actually be self-taught by just clicking the mouse. Senator Morris listened intently, and asked whether or not his three computers were similarly equipped. Dr. Hines assured him that they were, and only needed to be delivered to his schools. The Senator admitted that the hard work, over the course of the year had paid off handsomely.

The gathering moved to an adjoining room, for a luncheon, and people began expressing surprise at the gift that Dr. Hines had made to Independence City Primary School. At that point, Mrs. Paulette Stewart, the Coordinator of the Sister Schools Partnership, explained that this recent contribution was the latest in a series of contributions made by Dr. Hines and the Dr. Michael D. Fox Elementary School in Hartford. Over this short period, ICPS had received supplies including an Overhead Projector, a multifunction copier, laptop computer, school supplies, and books. Dr. Hines also ran staff development seminars for teachers, all underwritten by his generosity. The question was then asked, why is it that a contribution of this magnitude has gotten no publicity?

For more than a decade, Dr. Burnie Hines has been bringing cutting-edge educational practices to Jamaica, without fanfare, or financial assistance from the Government or any other organization. The Ministry of Education recently endorsed Cooperative Learning as a classroom management practice, to launch the new developmental curriculum in the Island’s schools. However, Independence City Primary School teachers have
been practicing the methodology as a result of the training Dr. Hines has given them. In tandem with Cooperative Learning, he has introduced the Multiple Intelligences philosophy to Jamaican teachers. Mrs. Paulette Stewart is currently researching the MI Philosophy for her Doctoral Dissertation. This is a research-based philosophy, which maintains that learners are much smarter than schools think they are, and that
intelligence is much more than IQ. Mrs. Stewart is using the ICPS project in her research.

A caveat to all this, is the fact that Dr. Burnie Hines is a Jamaican. He approaches the contribution that he makes with a working knowledge of the needs of the Jamaican school system. One has to be surprised at the difficulty this gentleman has experienced, in trying to get the attention of the Ministry of Education. Dr. Hines has an earned Doctorate in Education, and is CEO (Chief Education Officer) of InCITES, LLC. This is a non-profit educational organization. It provides training in non-traditional educational methodologies for classroom teachers in developmental education. InCITES, (International Classroom Innovative Teacher Education Services), caters to the needs of both traditional as well as nontraditional learners. This organization targets the Caribbean Basin, and will be focusing on Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and The Bahamas, as well as the United States. Dr. Hines can be reached at e-mail: [email protected].