June 6, 2005 – Theodora Augustina Dunbavin was born on Aug. 9, 1906 in Christiansted, St. Croix, Danish West Indies. She died on Monday, June 6.
According to the Web site, "Profiles of Outstanding Virgin Islanders", Dunbavin attended the Christiansted Public Grammar School and the Christiansted Junior High School. After graduation from junior high school in 1923, the highest level of formal education available in St. Croix at the time, she began her educational career as an assistant teacher at the La Grande Princess Rural School. She taught there for 16 years in various capacities including principal/teacher.
In 1942 Dunbavin was assigned to teach at the Christiansted Public Grammar School. In 1962 she was named school principal. In 1963, on the recommendation of Jane E. Tuitt, former commissioner of Education, she was named deputy commissioner by Gov. Ralph Paiewonsky. She held this post until her retirement in 1967 after more than 43 years of service.
Dunbavin pursued professional and educational improvement throughout her career. She enrolled in various training programs and summer sessions conducted by the V. I. Dept. of Education as well as Polytechnic Institute of Puerto Rico, Hampton University and New York University. She received an honorary high school diploma in 1936, a high school diploma in 1957, a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from New York University in 1958, and a master of arts degree in administration and general education from the same institution in 1962.
In 1974, in honor of her "distinguished and dedicated service" the Tenth Legislature of the Virgin Islands renamed the La Grande Princess School the Theodora Dunbavin School. In 1985 Dunbavin was inducted into the V.I. Education Review Hall of Fame as its 14th member.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards extended his condolences to Dunbavin's family and friends in a press release issued on Monday. Richards said Dunbavin was his former principal and described her as a "strict disciplinarian."
"She enforced the letter of her laws and demanded that her students perform at their highest and most efficient capacity," Richards said. "I can personally attest to the vast expanse of her reach."
Cecil Benjamin, labor commissioner, recalled how Dunbavin recruited him for his first teaching job in 1966, right after he graduated from college. "She came looking for me in a white government car," Benjamin said. "She said she needed me to teach in the schools."
Eulalie R. Rivera, a noted former St. Croix educator, expressed sadness hearing of the death of Rivera. In 1974 the Grove Place Elementary School was renamed in Rivera's honor. Rivera, who was born on August 2, 1909, said on Monday, "I am sorry to hear of her death, we taught at different schools, but I know about her. I guess now I am the oldest living teacher in St. Croix."
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