By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff
Nineteen principals and senior teachers not only created history yesterday by becoming the first batch of licensed school leaders in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), but they went as far as to promise dramatic school improvements and a revolutionary approach to transform education.
“We have been furnished with the tools needed to foster dramatic school improvements, community involvement, and an instructional revolution that will transform education in these islands if we are consistent and unwavering in our efforts,” said Orlandette Crabbe, the principal of Joyce Samuel Primary School who spoke on behalf of the educators who received their licenses.
They also signed the Register of Virgin Islands Licensed Educators during a ceremony held yesterday, May 24, at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College.
Look beyond poverty, poor parenting
Crabbe also lauded the government for making such a ‘lofty’ investment in the training and licensing processes, adding that the BVI deserves a payback.
“Our Ministry [of Education] has invested in us, and now it is time to deliver the return. So, continue to ensure that every student under your care receive the best educational experience that can be afforded to them. Continue to look beyond excuses of poverty and poor parenting and heredity as reasons why our students can’t excel. No matter how hard the days get, remember our children deserve our best, and our country deserves our best,” added Crabbe.
Crabbe, along with 18 others who form the first cohort of licensed teachers in the BVI, had to complete a government-sponsored training programme through the National College of Educational Leadership (NCEL) from Jamaica.
A total of 27 principals and senior teachers started the training in 2014, but only 19 were successful.
A second cohort involving 13 participants, which started the training programme in 2015, is still being trained.
Trainer ‘lights fire under’ educators
Crabbe, still speaking on behalf of the licensed educators, gave the thumbs up to the training initiative that was started by Dr Maurice Smith, who has since been appointed permanent secretary in Jamaica’s Ministry of Education.
“I remember colleagues – and I am sure you all do too – when Dr Smith spoke to us on our very first day and cautioned us that we will be shaken and ripped and torn to shreds as we journey through NCEL. Dr Smith, a nuh lie yuh did tell,” Crabbe said while her colleagues cheered.
She added, “You (Dr Maurice Smith) have managed to light a fire under me and my colleagues; one that I promise can’t be easily put out.”
Dr Smith, in the meantime, challenged the newly licensed principals and senior teachers to be the change that is needed in their schools and their wider communities.
“Whatever is going on in your schools – even if it looks dismal, inside of you resides the ability so to change it. Cross that threshold, prove to yourself and to others that you can succeed, that you can thrive, that you can excel, and that you can do well,” he advised. “It’s not good enough to identify the problem; it’s better to find the solution.”
Similar challenges were thrown out by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education here in the BVI Dr Marcia Potter, education officer Arthur Selwood, as well as Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said the occasion represents ‘a red-letter day for the territory’s education system’.
Minister of Education Myron Walwyn, in the meantime, underscored the importance of having competent principals in the territory’s schools.
He said: “The quality of education that we seek to attain for our students can only be achieved if we have strong leadership on the ground in our schools. This was the reason the government took the necessary steps to develop a licensure programme for principals.”
“We know that the schools that produce the best student results are the schools that are being effectively managed with strong and empowered leadership,” Walwyn said, adding that he is proud of all 19 principals and senior teachers who were collecting their licenses.
Nine of those educators were specially recognized for Exceeding Expectations during the training programme. THEY ARE:
1) Valerie Charles-Welsh, principal at Enid Scatliffe Pre-Primary School
2) Donna Clyne-Thomas, assistant principal at Elmore Stoutt High School
3) Orlandette Crabbe, principal at Joyce Samuel Primary School
4) Desiree Fahie-Butler, principal at Alexandrina Maduro Primary School
5) Pearlette Frazer-Smith, principal at Leonora Deville Primary School
6) Vansittart Huggins, principal at Eslyn Henley Richiez Learning Centre
7) Heida Joyles-Selwood, senior teacher at Bregado Flax Educational Centre
8) Carleen Simmonds-Parsons, principal at Enis Adams Primary School
9) Sandy Underhill, principal at Elmore Stoutt High School
The other educators licensed are:
1) Kayrid Chalwell, senior teacher at Willard Wheatley Primary School
2) Norma Creque, principal at Robinson O’Neal Memorial Primary School
3) Paul Fenty, assistant principal at Bregado Flax Educational Centre
4) Marieta Flax-Headley, principal at Althea Scatliffe Primary School
5) Hilroy George, principal at Bregado Flax Educational Centre
6) Deborah James, principal at Francis Lettsome Primary School
7) Enid Penn-Charles, principal at Willard Wheatley Primary School
8) Letetia Penn-Rodgers, assistant principal at Elmore Stoutt High School
9) Keturah Smith, principal at Isabella Morris Primary School
10) Ronda Smith, assistant principal at Althea Scatliffe Primary School
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