With her stellar record of service, it was no surprise when Regional Director for the Ministry of Education and Youth’s Region Four, Dr. Michelle Pinnock, was announced as a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Education.
Dr. Pinnock was among approximately 80 educators who were awarded by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, during a ceremony at Jamaica House on September 8, for the 2021 and 2022 cohorts.
With more than 30 years of service to education, Dr. Pinnock continues to make an indelible mark on the profession which she remains passionate about.
Dr. Pinnock, who indicates that she was born into a family of educators in St. James, points out that “my grandfather and grand uncle were educators; my mother is also a teacher… she was Principal of the Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College [in St. James]; so I can say that education runs through my veins.”
She tells JIS News that she initially had no intention of following in their footsteps. But try as she might, Dr. Pinnock could not resist the magnetic pull of education.
Teaching one class was all it took for her to be smitten, resulting in her changing course in 1992 to follow in her mother’s footsteps to Sam Sharpe Teachers College; and after completing her Bachelor of Science Degree in Botany and Zoology, she never looked back.
“I tried to stay outside of education, but it was not working. I went to university and studied natural sciences with an intention of doing medicine and, at one point, to do dentistry. I left the University of the West Indies (UWI) and started to teach science and science education, and then it was all over,” Dr. Pinnock shares.
“So, I came back to Montego Bay and was teaching science at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, and in 1997 I did a certificate in Social Work from the School of Continuing Studies. I just liked the idea of psychology, because I believe that if you can understand the minds of people, you are able to reach them,” she adds.
Dr. Pinnock then pursued academic qualifications that would enhance her abilities as an educator, which saw her returning to the UWI in 1998 to pursue a Diploma in Education, majoring in science teacher education and general science.
Thereafter, she returned to Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College where she resumed working in the Science Department.
The veteran educator also ventured into teaching instructional technology for which she was not yet qualified. However, determined to be the sharpest in her field, she pursued her doctorate in the discipline in 2009.
“I enjoyed teaching instructional technology, but then was not qualified, [as] I did not have Information Technology at the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) level. So because of that, I enrolled to do my Doctor of Education in instructional technology and distance education,” she states.
Always in pursuit of higher learning, Dr. Pinnock also holds a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Education.
After 23 years rising through the ranks at Sam Sharpe Teachers College and reaching the position of Vice Principal of Academic Affairs and Student Services, Dr. Pinnock moved on to assume the mantle of Regional Director in the Education Ministry in 2015, which she still holds.
In this capacity, she oversees the Ministry’s operations in the parishes of Hanover, Westmoreland, and St. James, where she is known as a consummate professional with a much-appreciated open door policy and knowledge of all the schools under her purview.
Dr. Pinnock says she is also actively involved in professional development sessions for teachers.
“It started out as a Region Four session; however, we [now] have teachers from all over the island. We formed a group using Google Classroom and we are doing wonderful things as it relates to integrating technology and sharing best practices,” she informs.
Despite an extensive itinerary, Dr. Pinnock still finds the time to, not only attend the St. James Parish Church, but to participate in initiatives such as the church’s newsletter and a technology integration drive.
Regarding charities, she has been instrumental in procuring tablet devices for students of Chatsworth and Adelphi Primary Schools in St. James.
Her family has also aided persons in need with care packages during the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Pinnock says it was important for the young members of her family to know the importance of giving back.
The lifelong educator says she has no regrets about choosing the profession, as it has been rewarding.
“If I had a chance to live again, I would choose education. I just love it. I just love moving persons from where they are, to a higher level; and it feels even better moving persons who don’t understand to the level of persons understanding,” she says.
Dr. Pinnock believes “this was a calling… and because of this I believe that the Lord knows where I am, and He will provide me with the strength to hurdle each crisis.”
“The crises are many. But one of the things we do know is that each crisis will pass, and with every crisis, in Region Four, we ensure that we learn our lessons and we become better,” she emphasises.
Dr. Pinnock is married with two daughters, and as destiny would have it, one is pursuing medicine and the other, dentistry, paths she gave up en route to becoming an educator.
Whether in the classroom or in a leadership role in the education sector, Dr. Pinnock continues to blaze an exemplary and passionate trail of excellence.