The friendship between Professor Jean Golden, Professor at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada, and Lyn Major, Principal of Every Child Counts School (ECC), has grown over the years into a valuable partnership between the two institutions. This partnership has already proved extremely beneficial to both institutions and continues to grow, providing a framework for the development of educational support and community programs for children with disabilities, in collaboration with Bahamian teachers, parents and community leaders.
Professor Golden was first introduced to Lyn Major by Mary Gottlieb who is a longstanding volunteer at ECC. After her initial introduction to the work of ECC, Professor Golden immediately saw the connection which could be made between the two institutions and how the link could be very beneficial to ECC. Her idea was to bring students with disability background training to assist at the school. A legal contract was drawn up between Ryerson University and the Catholic Education Centre under which ECC operates. This document, which is good for six years and is renewable, sets out what the students can do in response to the school’s needs, so is seen as a long term partnership.
“The collaboration between both Lyn and me and the two schools has grown really fast,” Professor Golden was pleased to announce. “We both see the world in a similar way and have the same goals.”
Mrs. Major added that, “Ryerson has brought an expanded level of resources and has broadened what the school has to offer.”
The first year of the program, seven Ryerson students came to ECC but last year the number expanded to nineteen Early Childhood Studies and Social Work students assisting in the classrooms at ECC.
“Our goal is to change people’s attitudes towards disabilities and to get the students more connected with the community,” stated Professor Golden. “We have a fully developed anti-bullying program in Toronto geared towards helping the disabled which we want to initiate here and we also hope to bring some faculty members. The faculty is also interested in research and two top researchers from the Department of Sociology, including the Chair of the Department, will be at ECC in October,” informed Professor Golden. “We are raising the vision in anti-disability bullying and if we are able to influence government policy and practice, then everybody benefits.”
“Teachers at ECC are now wanting to take extra training as a result of what they have seen from the Ryerson connection and the link with Ryerson gives us options,” says Mrs. Major.
Professor Jean Golden has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Sociology from Ryerson University, Toronto, is a Certified Solutions Focused Therapist and has a Certificate in International Human Rights. She has been teaching at Ryerson University since the 1970s and has played a key leadership role in the development of critical community focused curriculum in the Sociology Department. Her special teaching interests are Human Rights; Women Studies; Racialization; diversity Issues and her current research interest is Disability Education Human Rights in The Bahamas. She has been honoured many times for her work.
Lyn Major, Principal of Every Child Counts School, has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology from Caldwell College, Caldwell NJ and a Master of Arts Degree in Education with certification in Rehabilitation Counseling from Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ. She has worked in social work, mental health, teaching and guidance counseling prior to establishing the Every Child Counts School.