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Obituary

LENA MCCOURTIE (published on December 26, 2009)



LENA MCCOURTIE Lena McCourtie was born in Pondside in the parish of Hanover, Jamaica, the third of five children from the union of Maud Alice McKenzie McCourtie and Alfred Ebenezer McCourtie. From an early age, Lena developed an affinity for language, literature and the Christian faith that was to guide her life. The last of the five children to leave home, Lena was appointed by her minister to work as a teacher in Pondside. This appointment began an era of service in Caribbean education that was to last more than four decades. Lena was later offered a job teaching Latin and English at May Pen Comprehensive school in Jamaica. She entered Bethlehem Teachers College, an institution run by the Moravian church in Bethlehem, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. After passing her exams in the honors division, she won a four-year Teacher's Scholarship to the College of the West Indies, where she did an Honors degree in English and a Diploma in Education. Some years later, the Moderator of the Presbytery invited Lena to become one of the founding teachers at Meadowbrook High School, which became one of the island's top prep schools. There, Lena rose to the position of Department Head. Lena joined the staff of Shortwood Teachers College, where she became English Department Head. She left Shortwood when the Dean of the School of Education of the University of the West Indies invited her to fill the position of Temporary Lecturer. Afterward, Lena worked in the College of the Bahamas for four years. Lena was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to the University of Bristol in the southwest of London, where she completed another Diploma in Education and a Master's. She was later awarded a doctorate of Philosophy from the Institute of Education at the University of London. Her thesis, Social and Educational Issues in Jamaica: With Reference to the Use of Creole and Standardized English in the Secondary Schools, with roots in history, linguistics and education, ultimately outlined an approach for teaching English to students for whom Jamaican patois is the primary language. Lena's final post was at in the University of Winnipeg, where her work was assessed as Exceptional Merit. At the end of her very first term in the university, she was nominated for the Robson Award for Teaching Excellence. She spent two years in the English department, and then joined the Centre for Academic Writing. She also received the prestigious Sheffield Award for outstanding scholarship from the University of Ottawa and Hull. Lena has published textbooks with Longmans, Collins and Heinemann, as well as academic papers. She has also made presentations at 15 academic conferences in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. She was a nominee for the Jamaican Order of Merit. Lena entered the arms of our Lord and Savior on December 22, 2009. A funeral service will take place on Wednesday, December 30 at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 256 Smith Street, at 10:30 a.m. NEIL BARDAL INC. (204) 949-2200 nbardal.mb.ca


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