From 2007-2011, Dr. Rebecca Tortello served as a Senior Advisor/Consultant to the Minister of Education with special responsibility for early childhood, primary and parenting issues. Dr. Tortello holds a PhD in Comparative Education and Sociology from Columbia University, a Masters in Teaching and Curriculum from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor’s Degree with Honours in History and Literature from Harvard University.
A former Assistant Professor of Education at New York’s Adelphi University, for the past ten years, Dr. Tortello regularly lectures at the University of the West Indies. She is the author of a number of articles on education as well as the popular history book, “Pieces of the Past – A Stroll Down Jamaica’s Memory Lane” (now in its second printing). Dr. Tortello has edited and advised on a number of early childhood series for Jamaica and co-written the Teacher's Guide for Pearson's "1,2,3, You and Me." She has also written a number of children’s books including "My Jamaican ABCs," “Nancy and Grandy Nanny,” and the Ministry of Education’s titles, “Big and Strong” and “Colouring My School.”
From April 2012 to February 2015, Dr. Tortello focused on expanding the scope of the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation as its General Manager. In March 2015, she began a new position as Quality Education Advisor at UNICEF Jamaica.
The Grade 3 class connected immediately with the story about Abigail's "Poufey" hair. Both the boys and girls enjoyed reminiscing on their own Poufey hair and having it combed and de-tangled to their own occasional "OW!" The children joined in the "one two twist, one two twist" chorus as Abigail's mother daintily parted and twisted her hair to produce eight beautiful twists all over Abigail's head. They LOVED the illustrations and in particular the girls exclaimed with delight when they saw Abigail's trendy outfit and hairstyle at the end of the story. The session ended with the students drawing different aspects of the story. The Class Monitor then formally thanked me on behalf of the students. A truly delightful experience to see how the book boosted the self image of the children and helped them to celebrate and appreciate their African roots. I was subsequently invited to be a guest reader to a Grade 4 class on June 1, Literacy Day.
Bio: Marie Cunnigham-Clarke, is a Communications Consultant (retired). She conceptualized and is responsible for adjudicating a Speak Up Programme at St Andrew High School for Grades 7-10 students. The programme aims to improve students' use of Standard English through annual conversational, poetry and literary competitions. Grade level winners receive cash and book prizes.
Marie was recently elected President of The International Proxy Parents (IPP), a non-profit organization which raises funds for less fortunate children in Jamaica. Each year IPP gives over $1.5m in scholarships and assistance to State run childrens' homes in Jamaica.