- National awardee James Walsh is looking to expand the skills training programme at the Brown’s Town Community College.
- Last year, the institution opened a multi-million dollar training facility in Discovery Bay, St. Ann.
- Mr. Walsh joined the teaching staff of the Brown’s Town Community College in 1975.
National awardee James Walsh is looking to expand the skills training programme at the Brown’s Town Community College in St. Ann, where he has been serving as principal for the past 16 years.
Last year, the institution opened a multi-million dollar training facility in Discovery Bay, St. Ann, to prepare students in the areas of construction and welding, and is partnering with employers and institutions in Canada to train Jamaicans to take up jobs as trailer drivers and mechanics in that country.
“Right now, we are playing a part in setting up this school for tractor trailer drivers and laying the foundation for heavy duty and transport mechanics,” Mr. Walsh tells JIS News.
“By next year, we should have people in Canada, who are car and truck tyre technicians and who will go there to work,” he says.
Mr. Walsh tells JIS News that since taking the helm of the institution, he has managed to bring about some expansion and diversification of the community college, to keep it current and relevant.
Under his watch, a nursing school was established in St. Ann’s Bay, in addition to the technical campus in Discovery Bay, and there are plans for a third campus at Lydford in St. Ann to accommodate the growing student population.
Mr. Walsh joined the teaching staff of the Brown’s Town Community College in 1975, the same year it was established, having just completed his studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Under strong persuasion from a colleague, he decided to teach at the college for two years and then move on to fulfilling his dream of setting up a farmers’ cooperative in the parish. Mr. Walsh says he also felt compelled to join the staff after learning that the principal was a former head of a school he had attended.
Thirty-eight years later, he is still in the education profession and still at Brown’s Town.
The dedicated educator says he has remained at the college, as he is convinced that in carrying out his role in the classroom, he is making a valuable contribution to the development of the country and its people.
“What has kept me in the profession is the fact that one of the things about teaching is that it gives a lot of fulfilment and everyday that you get up, once you appreciate what education is, and the importance of education, you never have a day when you wonder about the value of what you are going to do,” Mr. Walsh says.
But not all his years were spent in the classroom as between 1995 and 1997, he was seconded to the Social Development Commission (SDC), where he had responsibility for Special Training and Empowerment and the Integrated Community Development Programmes.
“It was felt that I had some understanding of the dynamics of community development and I could have made a contribution there,” Mr. Walsh says.
In addition to his dedication to education, Mr. Walsh has a deep passion for Jamaica and its people and expressed the view that he has a civic duty to make a positive contribution to his country’s development.
For his efforts, he was recognised at the National Honours and Awards Ceremony held on Heroes Day, October 21, on the lawns of King’s House, where he was conferred with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander.
He was among a total of 179 outstanding Jamaicans, who have contributed to nation building in various fields.
Asked how he feels about receiving the award, Mr. Walsh says he is “very honoured and humbled.” He says he never thought that he would have received a national honour. “I was just doing my job,” he says.
The educator says it is always his belief that the country owes him nothing and that it is his duty to give back.
“I am very conscious of the fact that I belong to a country, where I been privileged to have opportunity, and where my education… was funded largely by people, who never had the opportunity that I had,” he says.
“Here, you are receiving a high honour for doing something that you enjoy doing, which you find great fulfilment doing, and gives my life a lot of meaning, what more can you ask,” he continues.
Over the years, Mr. Walsh has received recognition for services from several organisations and associations. These include the Honour Award from the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica for three decades of service to education in 2005; the distinguished Honour Award from the HEART Trust/NTA in 2006; and the Prime Minister’s Award for Services to Education in 2011.
But despite the numerous awards, Mr. Walsh says his greatest reward has been the many students of the college, whose lives he has impacted in some way.
“To me, the greatest award is the people, the students whose lives I have touched in a positive way and helped to develop and to realise their potential. Personal rewards, that’s what makes it worthwhile,” he says with pride.