JIS News

Principal of Sam Sharpe Teachers' College, in Granville, St. James, Dr. Asburn Pinnock in a session with student teachers at the institution.

Focused on his mission of producing quality teachers, Principal of Sam Sharpe Teachers' College, Dr. Asburn Pinnock wants to ensure that the nation's children are truly educated.

A past student of the institution, which is located at Granville, in St. James, Dr. Pinnock enjoys the full support of the 51 members of the teaching staff and the 600 students on roll.

"Sam Sharpe Teachers' College is a special institution, because it holds the name of National Hero, the Right Excellent Samuel Sharpe, who embodied the spirit of freedom. One of the main attributes of education is to free the mind and to free up humankind, therefore Sam Sharpe embodied that," Dr. Pinnock tells JIS News in an interview.

"As Principal, one of my dreams is to ensure that our nation's children are truly educated and we provide the teachers, especially in western Jamaica, to do just that. Education is not a one-track phenomenon and that is why we at Sam Sharpe Teachers' College try as much as we can to provide our students with a rounded education," he adds.

Born in December of 1965 in a district known as Reckford, in Clarendon, Dr. Pinnock received his early education at the Brandon Hill Basic and Primary Schools and Manchester High School, before moving on to Sam Sharpe Teachers' College and the University of the West Indies, where he pursued the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education and Social Science. He then went on to Central Connecticut University, in the United States, where he gained his Masters Degree and also the Doctorate (PhD) in Education Leadership.

"I am from a very humble background and was actually born in a 'thatch' house with dirt floor, so growing up I never thought that I would be a teacher. I left high school and thought that I wanted to do business. This never worked out for me and then I convinced myself that because I talked a lot, then I probably could be a good lawyer. I then embarked on a course of history and areas of social science that I thought would adequately prepare me for law," he tells JIS News.

"In the midst of that preparation, I was attracted to the teaching profession and there began a struggle. I believe that there are some persons who were caught and there are some who were led to the profession. I think that I am one of those who were caught," Dr. Pinnock says.

He notes that the application for teacher training was sent to his first choice, Sam Sharpe Teachers' College, in St. James, a fair distance away from home in Clarendon.

"It seems as if at times the Lord charts a path for you and while you are thinking of something else, He says this is what I want you to do and so He led me to this profession. It's important to note that it's not where you are coming from, it's where you are going and I am looking forward to where I am going, as I want to make my mark in this profession and to put my contribution on the map of Jamaica," the Principal says.

Dr. Pinnock explains that the institution provides a rounded education for students, such as discipline, values, attitudes, and the valuable academic work.

"We therefore expose students to all aspects of academia and so even if that person doesn't end up teaching in the classroom, that person is educated and nothing beats an educated person. Therefore, such an individual can serve his or her country effectively in other fields," he says.

Dr. Pinnock says where deficiencies exist in the holistic training of teachers at Sam Sharpe, the college is aggressive in seeking and forging partnerships with other institutions to ensure that the teacher becomes a 'rounded' professional.

"In terms of the college and the direction in which we want to move, we don't seek to compete with those mega-universities. We seek to identify our niche market and to ensure that we carve out that market and whoever we are producing for the teaching sector, we produce quality teachers," he declares.

The ultimate goal, he explains, is to be "the little Ivy League College" in the west that turns out high quality and well-respected teachers.