Great Jamaican Teachers

A. L. Walcott

The "Booker T. Washington" of Jamaica.


Jamaica Times,
April 24, 1909

Manchester gave him birth 50 years ago next October,

though his father was a native of St James and his mother

of Trelawny.

Jamaica Times,
August 6, 1910

Born in Manchester 51 years ago. Father native of St.

James; Mother, native of Trelawny.

Daily Gleaner,
May 29, 1916

This well known educator was born in the parish of

Manchester and received his early education in

the parish of Trelawny, Jamaica.


Jamaica Times,
April 24, 1909

Young Walcott like many another Jamaica youth who has risen gloried in hard work from

early in life, and very soon the spirit of enterprise and the desire to succeed manifested itself.

It was not always his teachers that rendered his early training of such marked importance.

Some of these men were as a fact poorly equipped educationally. But it was in the boy to rise,

and he did so despite disadvantages. His progress was rapid and he was soon at the top of his

class and primus of his school. One of these teachers was Mr. Peter Allen of Whitby in

Manchester, who Mr. Walcott says seems to have been one of the best of his day, and of whom

he cherishes grateful memories. On the removal of this gentleman from the school, young

Walcott's parents placed him under Mr. J. Scholefield, an Englishman, who then held the

position of Catechist and schoolmaster of the St. Andrew's station, Albert Town, Trelawny.

Mr. Scholefield was succeeded by Mr. C. C. Douce now Anglican Minister [Black priest,

ordained March 1881] at Highgate, who recognizing his pupil's intelligence and aptitude for

teaching directed his energies towards preparing him for the teaching profession.


Mr. Walcott entered the Government Training College then at Stoney Hill, as a student in

January, 1875. His College contemporaries were Hugh John McKay, G. A. Ashby, late

Wesleyan Minister, Herbert F. Miller, Geo. Swaby, Samuel Matthias Johnson. The Rev. Ed.

Pierce was Superintendent and H. M. Cox Esq., Tutor.

On the removal of the Training College to Spanish Town in the summer of July, 1876 Mr.

Walcott was brought under the influence of the late Bishop C. F. Douet M. A. and of T. P. Cox

Esq., Superintendent and Tutor respectively of the College. Here also he gained the favour of

his teachers. Confidence in his ability as a teacher, and in his general good conduct was

shown in his frequent employment while still a student to fill the place of the Headmaster of

the Model School whenever that official was ill, or absent from duty.



Jamaica Times, April 24, 1909


His first appointment after a successful three years' course was to the headmastership of

Meylersfield Trust School, Westmoreland, under the management of C. P. Bovell Esq.,

Attorney for Paradise Pen. This was in February 1878. Here he had quite uphill work. The

School house and Teacher's residence were erected in a locality unfavourable to the

maintenance of good health, owing to the presence of lagoons and marshes. The School was

but newly erected, and none but the children of the peasantry of the Estates, and those of East

Indian immigrants could at this early stage attend. The Highest Standard was only the Third

Book. Second standard was unrepresented. The remaining children are placed in Junior or

First Standard. Still, in July in the same year School made 30 marks at the Government

Inspection, and 46 marks second class in April of the following year. The Rev. P. Williams of

Bethel Town was the examiner. The young teacher left to fill the post of Assistant Master,

Government Training College, Spanish Town, to which he was appointed in September 1879.

Some students at this time were S. A. Bowen, (Portland), W. H. Plant, (Titchfield), R. A.

DaCosta, (Bermuda), A. I. Hopwood, (late Headmaster Hope Industrial School), J. N. Swaby,

(Rector St. Andrew's, Albert Town), Archdeacon Swaby (Bocas del Toro).

In 1881 Mr. Walcott was appointed to the Mission Station, St. James, Gibraltar, St. Ann. In

addition to his duties as Catechist, he conducted the Day School, and gave occasional help at

St. Thomas' Church, Stewart Town. The Mission that was dwindling received fresh vigour

and the school, a struggling third class of 30 marks, advanced to 52 marks in a single year.

Every thing gave promise of a successful future when Archbishop Nuttall directed that a

change should be made to West Branch School, Kingston. There he has been ever since

August 1882.


Daily Gleaner,
October 17, 1901

Mr. A.L. Walcott.


The following is an extract from a sketch of the career of Mr. A. L. Walcott (twice [once

confirmed] president of the Jamaica Union of Teachers) in the October Journal of Education.

Any one passing down West Street, twenty years ago,

would hardly notice the little mission school on his left

and the ugly looking little square building which stood

facing the gate some distance in the teacher's house. The

clamour of quarrelling men and women, the noise of rude

urchins, the dirtiness of the street, a dead fowl here, and

a dead dog there, and the dinginess of the houses formed,

rather, the object of sober thought for your would-be

moralist who little thought that the little school was

destined to be the means of changing the whole


 Were he to visit now the former scene of his musings he would find a fine church consecrated

to All the Saints, with a fine organ, a good congregation, and a regular officiating priest. In

the place of one school he would find three departments each bigger than its parent, and

instead of one certificated teacher, several who have their parchment. At first his complaint

might have been that there was too much room, now it is that there is too little. The little

insignificant West Branch school of twenty years ago has become, if not the foremost, one of

the foremost schools in the Island.

After teaching at Myersfield in Westmoreland and subsequently in St. Ann, he [A. L. Walcott]

took charge of West Branch School, Kingston, in July,1882, then a low third class school with

a very poor attendance - a school that one with less faith in his powers would have shrunk

from. This school within two years gained first class marks and has since going up, up, up,

and now has over 70 marks. It must be remarked that these marks are not mentioned as a

measure of Mr. Walcott's work. To see that work one must visit West Branch School for

himself, must see hundreds of boys and girls busy at work, must observe the effects of the

teaching on the children's conduct and character, and must follow them as they go forth to

fight the battle of life.

Jamaica Times, April 24, 1909


FROM 34 TO 500 -- But West Branch of those days was a poor third class school of 30 marks

and 34 children in average attendance. Today it stands at 77 marks, with between 600 and

700 pupils on books and an average of over 500. the original buildings in which the school

was formerly kept, have become too small for the attendance, additional accommodations

have had to be provided, which are even now to limited for the number of pupils that seek

instruction at this centre.

The number of those trained at West Branch go up into the thousands including pupils from

Panama, Port Limon, Central America; even now many of the pupils in school come from

outside the City of Kingston. His old pupils have given recruits to nearly every profession.

These men and women are ever loud in the praises of their old teacher. Among teachers

trained by Mr. Walcott, are Mr S. M. Gordon of Mandeville, Mr G. L. Harry, P. Munroe, an[d]

J. T. Munroe, General Secretary J. U. T.

Mr. Walcott believes in the education of our girls as he is anything but oblivious to the

uplifting influences of womanhood. Among the most successful trained by him may be noted

Miss L. E. Black (now Mrs Walcott) Miss L. M. Ludford, Nurse, Mrs L. Payne, Port Antonio,

the late Miss Tucker, Miss A. Chaves (now Mrs B. C. Lumsden) Miss E. Delgado (now Mrs W.

Lumsden) Miss M. Green (now Mrs J. A. S. Linton.) The three last have married ministers of

the gospel.

To our Island Civil Service he has given Messrs M. Aarons, Court's offices, Kingston; E.

Wilson, Surveyor General's office; J. A. Lawrence, Courts' office, Port Maria; G. A. Smith, late

of Registrar General's office, Spanish Town, H. A. Morle (deacons.) Other Pupils have been

successful not only in winning scholarships for secondary schools, but in passing the

Cambridge Local examinations. A late winner of the Jamaica scholarships, Master Valentine,

now residing in Edinburgh won a scholarship at Wolmer's from West Branch school.

Daily Gleaner, May 29, 1916

It is unnecessary and impossible in a brief sketch to name the different positions held by him

at home and abroad. It is sufficient to say that the record of the school has not been

approached by any other elementary institution in the lifetime of Mr. Walcott, qualifying as

he did numerous pupils to pass classical examinations from an elementary institution.



'Oh, these God-sent teachers . . . . of rural Jamaica, in those opportunity-starved years

of the early nineteen hundreds.'    

J. J. Mills - His own account of his life and times. (Kingston, 1969), page 41.