Commanding an education
Trevor Edward Sewell of the College of Education has been honored by the country of Jamaica for helping his homeland meet its educational needs
Trevor Edward Sewell, professor of school psychology in the College of Education, traveled to his home country of Jamaica last month, where he was officially given the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander. Sewell (left, with Joseph Williams, principal of the Jamaican Diaspora Partnership School) received the honor for his efforts to improve education in his native land.
Photo courtesy Trevor Edward Sewell
In his 33 years at Temple University, Trevor Edward Sewell has been called a teacher, a mentor and even the Dean of the College of Education.
But now, you’ll be able to call him something else — Commander.
On Aug. 6, Jamaica’s Independence Day, Sewell was officially given the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander from the country of Jamaica for his efforts to help make education in his native land better for everyone. A Ceremony of Investiture for Sewell’s honor was held on Oct. 16, which is National Heroes Day in Jamaica.
According to the Jamaican Consulate, based in New York City, the Order of Distinction is a national award that goes to native Jamaicans who have worked to improve life in their native land. It’s presented by the governor-general of the country.
Sewell, a professor of school psychology in the College of Education, has made his focus educating Jamaica’s populace. Being given one of his native land’s highest honors for his efforts was something he didn’t expect to happen, he said.
“I was very surprised,” he said. “I’m not in the forefront, and I’m not very visible.”
But his work has been noticed by Jamaicans who wish to be teachers and by the students whom they help to educate.
In 1997, Sewell put together a partnership between Temple and Church Teachers College that gives students at this Jamaican school the chance to earn Temple degrees in early childhood and elementary education. Ninety-five teachers have graduated since the program’s inception, and 43 more are currently in the program, he said.
As the former program director, Sewell selected a group of Temple University professors each year who traveled to Jamaica to teach courses such as “Service Learning” to the students there. One of those professors was Novella Keith, program coordinator of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the College of Education.
Sewell’s dedication to the program showed in who he chose to send to work with the Jamaican students, Keith said.
“He chose the teachers very carefully,” she said. “He’s very, very committed and is very careful when he decides to do something.”
In addition to the Temple/Church College partnership, Sewell has also used his educational prowess in his work with the Washington, D.C.,-based Jamaican Diaspora Foundation, a group of native Jamaicans committed to improving the economic, educational and health care systems of their country.
This group established a model partnership with a school there based on what’s right with American education. Things are going so well at the school, Jamaica’s St. James High School, the group is planning to replicate its work across the country, Sewell said.
“So far, it’s been highly successful,” he said. “It’s just one school, but we’re planning for several other schools. The government has been really responsive to our efforts at transformation [of the educational system].”
In addition to his work with Jamaican education, Sewell also remains active with the college he used to oversee. C. Kent McGuire, the current dean of the College of Education, says he prizes Sewell’s historical knowledge and sound advice.
“Working with him has been terrific,” McGuire said. “Because he was a dean, he has a history and a perspective that’s been helpful to me, especially early on when I first got here. He’s also been helpful and supportive as a member of the faculty and he’s never far away if I need to ask him something.”
- Denise Clay