January 3, 2018

Professors De-Souza and Galuski Advance Early Childhood Education with the University of the West Indies and the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust

"The Early Years – Meeting the Needs of All Children," Supports the Year of the Caribbean and SUNY UWI Partnership

Professors Desalyn De-Souza, center, and Tracy Galuski, far right, participated in an early childhood development conference with the University of the West Indies.
Image caption: Professors Desalyn De-Souza, center, and Tracy Galuski, far right, participated in an early childhood development conference with colleagues from University of the West Indies.

Professors Desalyn De-Souza and Tracy Galuski participated in the 2017 early childhood development conference, “The Early Years – Meeting the Needs of All Children.”

Held Nov. 16-17, 2017, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and hosted by the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust in collaboration with the University of the West Indies’ Caribbean Child Development Center, UWI’s Open Campus, its School of Education and its Mona Campus.

“There is overwhelming support to improve the early childhood infrastructure on the island of Jamaica,” said De-Souza. “Jamaica’s minister of education, youth and information provided opening remarks and officials from Jamaica National Bank, The Early Childhood Commission, The CHASE Fund, as well as the Dudley Trust and UWI, provided remarks in support of the conference and the movement toward improving quality in early childhood education.”

De-Souza and Galuski presented two conference sessions, one session on the topic of quality early childhood environments, and another one on using environmental rating scales to make quality improvements.

Immediately prior to the conference, and as part of their research, De-Souza and Galuski visited six early-childhood schools in the cities of Kingston and Montego Bay.

The early-care and education system in Jamaica is currently working toward licensing all schools on the island. De-Souza and Galuski visited programs that have earned certification and those currently in process.

Importantly, De-Souza noted that in order to open doors in the U.S., an early childhood education program must first obtain licensure, which is different from the Jamaican process.

According to De-Souza, site visits to Kingston and Montego Bay schools were instrumental in better understanding cultural contexts and tailoring conference presentations to the audience.

Participation in the conference by De-Souza and Galuski is the most recent example of the college’s ongoing collaborations with UWI, the college’s Year of the Caribbean cultural theme for the academic year and a reflection of the college’s overall leadership in the systemwide SUNY UWI partnership.

During July 2017, Ceceile Minott, head of the Caribbean Child Development Center at the University of the West Indies Open Campus, came to the U.S. to participate in one of SUNY Empire’s residencies.

Residencies are among many types of online and face-to-face learning opportunities offered to students by SUNY Empire.

This particular residency focused on early childhood education and examined how imaginative play supports young children’s learning and development and the different environments and materials that promote imaginative play for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school-age children.

One result of SUNY Empire’s faculty research and collaboration with UWI in international early childhood education is the creation of a new, 4-credit, online course, “Curriculum Models in Early Childhood Education.”

The genesis for the course took place beginning in 2016 with the college’s faculty participating with SUNY Collaborative Online International Learning Center (SUNY COIL), and was further refined and developed during the July 2017 residency and the conference in Jamaica.

De-Souza and Galuski, together with UWI’s Minott, have submitted a proposal to present all of the college’s collaborations with UWI to date for the spring 2018 SUNY COIL conference.

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