In 1879, three Franciscan Sister of Allegany set sail from New York in a Banana Boat for Jamaica, in answer to the request of the then Vicar Apostolic of Jamaica. On their arrival here, they joined the Scottish Franciscan who was in Jamaica since 1857.
Eighteen years after their arrival, the sisters were asked by the Jesuit Priests to establish a College to provide sound professional training for Catholic Teachers. In 1897 St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College was founded. It was first located on Duke Street with an enrolment of six female students. The College faced a number of challenging situations, epically that of funding. The administration then was in capable hands of Sr. Deloris McGrane, after whom one of the halls of residence is named.
The College had a rather nomadic existence for a number of years. After the 1907 earthquake, the College was housed in tents. Some rebuilding took place only to be destroyed by fire in 1937.
After the disaster the College was relocated to its present site at Alvernia. The Alvernia property was given to the sisters by the D’Aquin family. The dormitory, built in the sixties, was named in their houour- D’Aquin Hall.
In 1957, following the devastation of Hurricane Charley, rebuilding took place and signs of permanence were evident for the first time. Since then St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College has remained a land mark in the Cross Roads area of urban St. Andrew.
Expansion continued over the years and enrolment increased. The first male student was enrolled in 1956. The 1970’s was a period of expansion. Construction of five new building began in 1975. They were completed and dedicated by December 1976. These included two dormitories for students, four flats for staff, two science laboratories, a general classroom and a cafeteria-cum-auditorium.
Each building was named to houour and perpetuate the memory of the saints and persons who dedicated their lives to the cause of education, namely: Bonaventure named after the great Franciscan scholar, McGrane, DePorres, McDonald named after principals, and Wilson Hall named after the great Jamaican scholar and internationally acclaimed linguist and tutor, Monsignor Gladstone Wilson.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s a three-year programme was offered. In the 1970’s there was the introduction of the Internship Programme – two years intra-mural, and one year external. This internship programme was later discontinued. In 1981 a new Three- Year Diploma Programme was introduced together with a preliminary year. In 1986 the Post Certificate Programme was introduced to accommodate those graduates who wished to upgrade their certificates to Diploma Status.
In the 1990 there was a revision of the Diploma Programme. The holistic development of the individual was emphasized and opportunities for various extracurricular activities included.
In 2002, the Diploma in Early Childhood and Primary Education was completed over three (fulltime) of four years (part time). During this decade a Bachelor of Education degree in Primary Education was offered on a part-time basis over two years in conjunction with Mount St. Vincent University, Nova Scotia, Canada.
The Consortium in Teachers Education (CITE), a locally initiated Bachelor’s Degree programme to expand the current diploma status was introduced in 2007. Several cohorts graduated before this programme was discontinued in 2010.
Currently training is now extended to four years at the end of which students will receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education or Primary Education. These programmes commenced in August 2011.
A new phase of physical expansion was undertaken in 2004 and continues today. Buildings were renovated, new ones built and buildings were renamed. In 2004, a new administrative block, the Sr.Avril Chin Fatt Building including the William Sheehan Library was constructed. An extension of Wilson Hall was also completed in 2004. In 2009, the Hazel Keating Mathematics Building was completed and houses the Mathematics Department and the Digicel sponsored Mathematics Resources Centre which was opened in 2010.
Buildings which have been renovated in recent years include the villa (renamed the Sr. Goretti Lowe Villa) and the Old Hall Building (renamed the St. Francis Building). Buildings and rooms which have been renamed include Sr. Cordia Keady castle (Education and Language Arts), the Sr. Teresita Early Childhood Room, The Douglas Samuels Art Room and the Sr. Trinita Solnek Smart Room.
The newly named roads include the St. Francis of Assissi Drive, La Verna Drive, Rivotorto Drive and El Greccio Drive. The Book Shop and the Tuck Shop are located around the San Damiano Courtyard and the McGrane and DePoress Halls Are located around Bonaventure Circle. The sacred Heart Chapel is one of the main buildings around Portiuncula Circle. These names are from significant places in the life of St Francis of Assissi.
An impressive new entrance to the campus from Old Hope Road was dedicated in March 2012. It provides two-way flow of traffic to facilitate not only St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College but also populations of Alvernia Preparatory School and St Francis Primary and Infant School.