Dr Carol J. Blanchard motivates, educates and innovates for three decades
They say that “ a good education can change anyone. But a good teacher can change everything”. Carrying out a fundamental and heroic act with great optimism, Dr Carol J. Blanchard has inspired and transformed the lives of students and teachers in the school system for more than three decades. Today, she shares the story of her pursuits that elevated and transcended the classroom.
“I am a passionate educator who has served over thirty years in the Jamaican school system. I have performed many roles as an educator, which includes guidance counsellor, supervisor, form teacher, early childhood educator, board member, principal, and educational consultant,” she told The Sunday Gleaner.
Her stellar track record as a pioneer in the field goes way beyond being a teacher-student. She has created educational programmes and developed strategies that promote more effective teaching and learning methods.
Earning the respect of several movers and shakers within the industry, Dr Blanchard, in her tenure, has conducted several leadership seminars, doing groundbreaking research in the area of teacher selection.
“I love children, and it is my absolute pleasure to interact with the elderly and support them when it is possible,” she shared.
Dr Blanchard recalls her days of teacher training at Mico College University. Since then, she has become a holder of two master's degrees and a PhD, with international and local educational experiences, attending Florida International University, Nova SouthEastern University, and University of the West Indies.
She shared further: “I have qualifications in international relations, political science, psychology, human resource management, teaching and learning, and educational administration.”
She is as diverse at home as she is at work.
As the last child, or what Jamaicans call the wash belly, of 11 siblings - six sisters, and five brothers - she comes from parents who not only mothered and fathered for the family but did so for members of the community as well.
“My father, who served in the military, passed away in 2020. And my mother is a businesswoman and housewife,” she said.
When she was born, her father was staring at the face of retirement. Her parents and older siblings helped her to mature quickly. “There was incongruence between my mental age and my chronological age, so for the most part. I had older friends.”
Because her family was so close-knit, emotional support was always present in the household. “Love was not allowed to be whispered in my family.”
According to Dr Blanchard, she was destined to walk down the career path of education. Her early years were spent getting into trouble at home for using the doors in the house as chalkboards.
“I used to teach the fence, the pipe, and all the animals in my yard until my neighbours asked me to assist their children with schoolwork. The fact is, I was role-playing my very own teachers who were my role models, she said, making special mention of teachers like Mrs Stone, Mr Solan, Gloria Brissette, and Dianne Taylor, who enticed her to travel the teaching path. I did love law and politics, but teaching was at the top of my list,” she added.
Her high school and college years represent some of the most beautiful years of her life. She assumed leadership roles at those levels and was grateful that her peers had confidence in her and endeavoured to never disappoint them.
“I learned a lot from significant educators Mr Shirley, former principal of Mico University College; Glen Owen, a teacher at Mona High School. They impacted my life in a very profound way.”
She went on to teach guidance and counselling, literature, and religious education and saw these avenues as great opportunities to have a positive impact on the future. It is for this reason that Dr Blanchard was able to be a dedicated teacher for so many years.
Spending eight years at St Cecelia Preparatory School and another 10 years at Mona Preparatory School, she was able to develop those leadership skills that others are so fond of.
“I became principal at a critical juncture at both institutions. I led both institutions in their 50th year. I have taken them through curriculum changes and one through a pandemic. My journey is decorated with a lot of innovations that are geared toward character development. I was a dreamer and I was grateful for the support,” she enthused.
Dr Blanchard was the regional director for Region One in the Jamaica Independent Schools Association. She was the first educator in Jamaica to set up a robust democratic system for student governance. Additionally, she was the first principal to introduce health screening or clearance for athletes at the primary level and the first principal to introduce internship programmes for children at the primary level.
Outside of the educational landscape, she followed in her parents' inspiring footsteps, helping others in her community, “I am very involved in my community. I am a justice of the peace, and I serve on three school boards. My love for culture has created opportunities for me to volunteer with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC). I have had the pleasure of working with the festival queens for over twenty years in Kingston and St Andrew.”
Dr Blanchard is the author of three books: Let's Put it in Writing, Grandpa and the Proverbs and Motivational Nuggets for a Child's Journey. These books, she says, shift the focus to value-based learning to, “... positively impact the culture of the Jamaican society, commencing from the cradle”.
She has even taken her innovation to a new 'scentsation', creating her very own perfume for those special occasions. Her father loved perfume. So much so that the house would be consumed by his fragrance following a fresh bath. This move, however, was a creative expression honouring her journey as a leader.
“I visited Mr Bruce, a perfumer, who walked me through the process from concept to product. I had an idea of what I wanted the scent to be, so I went through the process of mixing several scents until I got a eureka moment,” the entrepreneur added.
Inspired by her parents and the desire to actualise her full potential, Dr Blanchard hopes to attain several bestsellers, become a much- sought-after educational consultant, as well as an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker. She would also like to expand philanthropic activities to improve the lives of inner-city children.