Jamaican named head of Mt Vernon school system | New

Jamaican-born Dr. Waveline Bennett-Conroy has been named the new superintendent of the Mount Vernon School District.

Bennett-Conroy oversees a staff of 1,500, including 693 teachers, three secondary schools and several other schools from pre-K through eighth grade.

It also manages a school budget of US$266 million and oversees the welfare of 8,000 children.

Bennett-Conroy began his term on July 1 overseeing one of New York State’s “big five” districts.

Mount Vernon is 15 miles north of Manhattan and has a large Jamaican population. It is considered a medium-sized school district in Westchester County.

Talk with the gleaner upon her appointment, Bennett-Conroy said she had always had a passion for the classroom.

“It was a choice between teaching and becoming a nurse, but I couldn’t stand the sight of blood, so it was teaching for me,” she said.

Bennett-Conroy noted that, even as a child, she claimed to teach trees as students.

“My mom thought there was something wrong with me, but it was just my love of teaching from a young age,” she said.

Bennett-Conroy believes that the Jamaican education system needs professional development as well as an infusion of resources for students.

“It’s not just about money, but more about how human capital is used. It requires a collaborative effort and shared resources,” she said.

She is acutely aware of the call for better salaries in the profession internationally and acknowledged that pay scales vary widely across the United States.

Bennett-Conroy was born in the parish of St Elizabeth in western Jamaica, where she attended Ballards Valley Primary School and later St Elizabeth Technical High School. She enrolled at the Jamaica School of Agriculture in Twickenham Park, St Catherine. (It has since been renamed the College of Agriculture, Science and Education and moved to Passley Gardens, Portland.).

After teaching for 10 years at St Elizabeth Technical, she emigrated to the United States in 1989. She settled in the Bronx where she attended Fordham University, the College of New Rochelle and St John’s Fisher College, earning various degrees, culminating in a doctorate in leadership.

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