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by Sylvia Adjoa Mitchell (daughter)

Dr June (Mitchelmore) Hassall – wonderful mother, caring wife, educator extraordinaire, artist and writer – died in England on September 23, 2023, and her funeral was held on November 13, 2023. To honour her life and work in Jamaica, a memorial service will be held at the UWI, Mona Chapel on February 21, from 11:30 am to 2 pm.


June with her two younger brothers in 1940

Dr. June (Mitchelmore) Hassall began her life as June Anthea Vivis, born to Irish and Swiss parents. She met Michael Mitchelmore and they married in 1961. They headed to Ghana a year later for their first job as teachers, leaving the UK to acquire overseas teaching experience.

In Africa, Mrs June Mitchelmore (as she was then) wrote her first book while teaching, sewing, and caring for her three young children born in Ghana (I am the middle child).

The Mitchelmore family in 1968

Faced with teaching in Africa from biology books containing only temperate (European) plants and animals, she decided to write a book with annotated pictures of plants and animals she found around her. Thus, her first book, Tropical Biological Drawings, was published in 1967 and used in Ghana. Virtually unknown in Jamaica since it was first published, her heart’s desire was for it to be used in Jamaica, and now its mine.

Between 1971 and 1973, the family moved to the USA where my parents obtained their doctorates in Science Education (June Mitchelmore, awarded 1973) and Mathematics Education (Michael Mitchelmore, awarded 1974) from the University of Ohio.


Michael and June at his graduation in 1974

The Mitchelmore family then moved Jamaica, this is how it happened. My dad (Michael Mitchelmore) had helped initiate a joint school project, linking schools in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia in mathematics. His first book under the Joint School Project (JSP) was published in Ghana in 1967. Dr. Ian Isaacs, who was at the School of Education, UWI, Mona, was asked to adapt the JSP book for Jamaica. He then asked my father for his help in Jamaica. Having enrolled in Ohio State University, Dad decided to do his PhD research in Jamaica instead of Ghana. This was the gateway to Jamaica for Dr. June Mitchelmore and her family.

When all the plans were finalised and everything packed, the family drove from Ohio to Miami. Then, with the family on a plane and the car on a boat, we landed in Jamaica in 1973, our parent’s home for the next 10 years. Dr June Mitchelmore secured a job with the Ministry of Education (MOE) while my father finished up his PhD research in Jamaica. After obtaining his doctorate and a year as an Extension officer with the MOE, Dr Michael Mitchelmore settled down at the School of Education, UWI, Mona.

An example of a ROSE Project Publication


As an Extension Officer at the MOE, Caenwood, Dr. June Mitchelmore continued writing. She almost single-handedly produced Jamaica’s first locally-written science books. These were black and white pages stapled together into books. These books were distributed island-wide to schools under the ROSE (Reform Of Secondary Education) Project, now an enduring programme.

I vividly remember these stacks of black and white sheets of paper my mother brought home and how we collated them. I also recollect walking from my high school, St Hugh’s, to Caenwood to watch her load stencils into this big machine that rolled off copies of the pages. I still vividly remember helping to staple the collated papers together, putting the correct number of them into their respective boxes to be dispatched to schools island-wide! Such was the humble beginning of local science textbooks in Jamaica!


Sample books authored by June (Mitchelmore) Hassall

After ten years, my parents left Jamaica. Though still friends, they had decided to pursue different paths. Mum subsequently married Prof Cedric Hassall in 1984 and became Dr June Hassall. A native of New Zealand, Prof Hassall was the first (chemistry) lecturer in 1948 at the newly minted University of the West Indies, where he worked until 1957, and regularly visited afterwards.

From 1984 until her husband died in 2017 at age 98, Dr. June Hassall wrote and published 27 sets of books, many of which included textbooks, workbooks, and teachers’ guides. She wrote under the author-name of June Mitchelmore (for her Jamaica and Africa books) and June Hassall (for her UK, New Zealand, and China books)

Dr. June Hassall had left Jamaica physically but not in her heart. With determination, she used her experiences working and living in Jamaica to produce many school books. From her humble start in Ghana and Jamaica, Dr. June Hassall’s books have found homes around the world while she remained humble to the end.

China Adventure

In total, I estimate that my mother wrote over 140 schoolbooks. Dr June Hassall has served generations of schoolchildren very well, and she is now at rest. She served in her own quiet way, and whenever she visited Jamaica, we had many discussions and worshipped together. She always had a word of wisdom for me and supported her daughters and grandchildren very well. In all, she saw four generations. It is this quiet assurance and understanding and love for family that is in all her books.

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