Local government — St. Thomas
Education Officials Offer Condolences on Death of Educator Guy Benjamin
Education Commissioner Dr. LaVerne Terry and St. Thomas-St. John Insular Superintendent Jeanette Smith-Barry offer condolences to the family and friends of renowned V.I. educator Guy Benjamin upon his recent passing.
Born on St. John in 1913, Mr. Benjamin was truly an advocate for education and for decades, remained dedicated to the development of the public school system on his beloved island while fighting for the rights of his students. Mr. Benjamin's passion for reading and writing came early in life (some say as early as three-years-old), and that love is most evident in his thoughtfully written “Me and My Beloved Virgin,” a stunning portrait of St. John, its culture, dialect, and most importantly, its residents.
Mr. Benjamin's career in education also began early -- starting with small jobs while he was still in middle school – and spanned more than 40 years, to include positions at the John's Folly, Bethany, Benjamin Franklin (which is named in his honor) and Julius E. Sprauve schools. He was also a principal with the V.I. Department of Education, a St. Thomas-St. John Superintendent of Schools, and is famously credited for initiating ferry boat service between St. Thomas and St. John to allow students to continue their education beyond the 6th grade.
In between, he also earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University and a masters from the prestigious New York University.
“It is rare to meet an individual with Mr. Benjamin's accomplishments and sincere passion for education,” Dr. Terry said Wednesday. “His heart has always been with the people of St. John, and he can truly be credited for helping to develop the public school system on the island and provide opportunities for students that were not available before He is greatly esteemed by the community, both for his professional contributions and his personal profound love for his Virgin Islands and its culture. His literary opinion is unrivaled in many circles, and it is without a doubt that he will not only be missed, but deeply mourned, by all those who loved him. He will be greatly missed, and it is our hope that his many lasting contributions to the children of the territory will be a constant source of comfort to his family and friends during this difficult time.”