After 7 years as Founder and Chair, Leo Gilling handed over the reins of the trailblazing, Jamaica Diaspora Education Taskforce (JDETF) to new Chair Dwayne Dyce. The transition, in discussion and planning for several months was formally announced at the recent Jamaica Diaspora Taskforce Action Network Leadership conference call on Monday May 11, 2020. Leo Gilling will now focus on his role as Chairman of the Jamaica Diaspora Taskforce Action Network (JDTAN), which he founded in September of last year.
Dr. Dwayne Dyce grew up in Murray Mountain in St. Ann and currently lives in Washington DC. He has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and works at a Charter School in the DC Area. He is also a Motivational Speaker and Writer. When asked about his new position he said “I am honored to serve in the capacity as Chair of the JDETF. JDETF has a long history of service and impact. I am completely behind the goals of the Taskforce to focus on the educational empowerment of the Jamaican people. Jamaica has given me everything and in return, I’m passing this blessing on to others.”
The Jamaica Diaspora Education Taskforce has been a model engagement vehicle for the last 7 years, partnering from inception to date with perennial legacy sponsors: the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA), the Ministry of Education Youth and Information (MOEYI), the Union of Jamaica Alumni Associations (UJAA), Loma Linda University and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (MFAFT). Additional sponsors over the years have included: the Jamaica National (JN), USAID, Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS), Grace Kennedy Foods and Grace Kennedy Foundation, Broward College, Broward Alliance of Caribbean Educators (BACE), Broward County Schools, City of Miramar, La Sierra University, Mico University College, Teachers colleges: Sam Sharp, Moneague, EXCEED, Church, Jamaica Awareness Association, New York, Miami, and Canada Consul Generals and the Jamaican Embassy in Washington DC. LASCO Chin Foundation (LCF), University of Technology (UTECH), Issa Trust Foundation, and Power 106.
JDETF’s Flagship program the Advancement in Education Summit has provided over 1500 Jamaican Educators with professional development, school tours, and best practice sharing in education pedagogy with Diaspora Educators over the last 6 years, starting with the inaugural Summit in Jamaica in 2014. The Summit now rotates through the Diaspora to expose Jamaican Teachers to even more regional Education best practices.
JDETF certified close to 500 teachers from the annual EXCEED program, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) teacher training held in partnership with Loma Linda University in California.
JDETF raised a grant of 250 thousand dollars from USAID to deliver a 5-week summer program, Camp Summer Plus, for at-risk grade 3 students across the island. The program delivered Literacy, Numeracy curriculum, Healthcare, Vision, and nutrition to Grade 1-3 primary students for 5 weeks.
JDETF delivered 73 Day of Service projects over three Biennial Diaspora conferences, the largest number of Day of Service projects, and also participated in every Education panel since its inception in 2013.
JDETF created a partnership with the Lasco Chin Foundation to provide scholarships and entrepreneurial opportunities for students and youth as a Crime intervention and prevention measure in the Mountain View area. Founded and launched the Pledge 2 Build Initiative, a Jamaica 55 legacy project, which sought to upgrade the infrastructure of early childhood and primary schools in Jamaica and provide professional development for teachers. The project became part of the Jamaica National Foundation iSupport Jamaica platform. JDETF also partnered with UTECH and USAID on the Fi Wi Jamaica Drums for Life and Gender-based Violence initiatives which sponsored drums and economic empowerment opportunities for youth in the Risk Salt Springs community in Montego Bay.
Most recently JDETF as part of the new Taskforce network launched JAMINARS, online virtual learning for Teachers by Diaspora Instructors. To date more than two thousand Teachers have registered to attend a JAMINAR. Sessions so far have covered: Classroom Management, Anger Management, Trauma, to name a few.
The success of JDETF has led to the formation of several other Taskforces and was highlighted as a model mechanism for Diaspora engagement by the State Department.
When asked how he felt about transitioning leadership of JDETF, Mr. Gilling commented that he has learned more in the past 7 years leading the JDETF than the 30 years previously working in the Diaspora in a variety of roles. “I wish to first thank all the persons who have volunteered in building JDETF. Throughout all our hundreds of trips to Jamaica they have all voluntarily paid their own expenses out of their pockets solely because they strongly believe in giving back to the country they love. It has been an honor to serve in this collaborative and altruistic way but succession planning is important to the ongoing development of JDETF; And work of JDETF and the successive task forces have now set the foundation of JDTAN.”
JDTAN is a network of now 16 Taskforces created to multiply the impact of the individual Taskforces by working together in support of Jamaica’s National Goals and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Dr. Grethel Bradford, Chair of the Behavioural Health Taskforce and Vice-Chair of JDTAN added “It has always been my belief that if I can positively impact the life of one child, then there is the potential to positively change an entire nation. By joining a Taskforce, I have seen where I am able to impact the lives of many individuals. For this reason I consider it an honor to be a part of the JDTAN family.”