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On Island Profile: Madaline Sewer

April 13, 2007 — Madaline Sewer is happily retired after a lifetime of teaching, then serving as assistant principal and finally principal, all at Julius E. Sprauve School.
"I love it," she says, reveling in her free time.
Sewer, 62, took early retirement in 1995. She now devotes her time to serving as chairman of the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee, talking daily to her two daughters and grandson in the States, and enjoying the company of her sweetie, Lucien L'Homme.
She first came to St. John in 1964 with her roommate at North Carolina's Bennett College, St. John resident Yvonne Wells. The two spent summers working at jobs on St. Thomas before starting their teaching careers in 1966 on St. John.
"My goal was to stay in the same school the whole time," she says.
Sewer almost met her goal, but spent a semester at Guy Benjamin School in Coral Bay filling in for Wells, who was on maternity leave.
Over the years, Sewer taught second, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth grades, but she says fourth and sixth were her favorites. She couldn't pinpoint exactly what she liked about those grades, but says during her years she had some really bright kids in those classes.
"I just loved teaching. I really loved the students," she says.
But she was known as a teacher who worked the students hard. And she counts some of St. John's Who's Who, like former Deputy Police Chief Angelo Hill, among her former students.
While Sewer taught a variety of subjects, she got to put her bachelor's degree in history to use while teaching the seventh grade. She went on to serve nearly 15 years as Sprauve's assistant principal before taking the school's top job in 1993.
Sewer says she stayed on St. John because she married and later divorced a St. John resident, the late Felix Sewer, and she loved the place because it was a small town.
"When I came here, St. John had 600 people," she says.
The population now stands at more than 4,000. The fact that St. John was so small when she started teaching meant that no students fell through the cracks, she says.
"The school had nine graduates, and mostly all were related to somebody on the staff," Sewer says.
That's changed, she says, and now the school must deal with many more students from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. Despite educational obstacles, if the parents are motivated to see that their children do well, the children will succeed, Sewer says.
She says she plans to stay on St. John, but if she gets sick she may have to leave. While some people are hard on those who move to St. John when they're younger but leave as they age, she says there is often no other option because medical services are limited on St. John.
"My daughter told me she'll put me in a good rest home," she says, laughing.
Her daughters are both on the mainland. Marion Sewer is an assistant professor in the biology department at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta and Gwendolyn Sewer is an art teacher at the Felton Laboratory School, a division of South Carolina State University in Orangeburg. Gwendolyn Sewer is the mother of Sewer's only grandchild, Loredon Mitchum, 6.
"He's named after Loredon Boynes," she says, referring to one of St. John's ferry-company legends.
Born in Philadelphia, Sewer moved to her parent's native North Carolina as a small child so her father, a teacher, could switch careers and become a police officer.
In addition to her career in education, Sewer spent time on various boards and commissions. She has served on the Public Services Commission, on AARP committees, on the board of the V.I. Medical Institute and on various Moravian Church committees. She's also a member of the St. John Business and Professional Women.
With the departure of former CZM Committee Chairman Julien Harley on March 31, she took over as chairman of that body. She is currently nearing the end of her second term on the CZM.
The CZM Committee now has a vacancy that may be hard to fill, Sewer says.
"People don't have a civic responsibility," she says. "They say they don't have time."
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April 13, 2007 -- Madaline Sewer is happily retired after a lifetime of teaching, then serving as assistant principal and finally principal, all at Julius E. Sprauve School.
"I love it," she says, reveling in her free time.
Sewer, 62, took early retirement in 1995. She now devotes her time to serving as chairman of the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee, talking daily to her two daughters and grandson in the States, and enjoying the company of her sweetie, Lucien L'Homme.
She first came to St. John in 1964 with her roommate at North Carolina's Bennett College, St. John resident Yvonne Wells. The two spent summers working at jobs on St. Thomas before starting their teaching careers in 1966 on St. John.
"My goal was to stay in the same school the whole time," she says.
Sewer almost met her goal, but spent a semester at Guy Benjamin School in Coral Bay filling in for Wells, who was on maternity leave.
Over the years, Sewer taught second, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth grades, but she says fourth and sixth were her favorites. She couldn't pinpoint exactly what she liked about those grades, but says during her years she had some really bright kids in those classes.
"I just loved teaching. I really loved the students," she says.
But she was known as a teacher who worked the students hard. And she counts some of St. John's Who's Who, like former Deputy Police Chief Angelo Hill, among her former students.
While Sewer taught a variety of subjects, she got to put her bachelor's degree in history to use while teaching the seventh grade. She went on to serve nearly 15 years as Sprauve's assistant principal before taking the school's top job in 1993.
Sewer says she stayed on St. John because she married and later divorced a St. John resident, the late Felix Sewer, and she loved the place because it was a small town.
"When I came here, St. John had 600 people," she says.
The population now stands at more than 4,000. The fact that St. John was so small when she started teaching meant that no students fell through the cracks, she says.
"The school had nine graduates, and mostly all were related to somebody on the staff," Sewer says.
That's changed, she says, and now the school must deal with many more students from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. Despite educational obstacles, if the parents are motivated to see that their children do well, the children will succeed, Sewer says.
She says she plans to stay on St. John, but if she gets sick she may have to leave. While some people are hard on those who move to St. John when they're younger but leave as they age, she says there is often no other option because medical services are limited on St. John.
"My daughter told me she'll put me in a good rest home," she says, laughing.
Her daughters are both on the mainland. Marion Sewer is an assistant professor in the biology department at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta and Gwendolyn Sewer is an art teacher at the Felton Laboratory School, a division of South Carolina State University in Orangeburg. Gwendolyn Sewer is the mother of Sewer's only grandchild, Loredon Mitchum, 6.
"He's named after Loredon Boynes," she says, referring to one of St. John's ferry-company legends.
Born in Philadelphia, Sewer moved to her parent's native North Carolina as a small child so her father, a teacher, could switch careers and become a police officer.
In addition to her career in education, Sewer spent time on various boards and commissions. She has served on the Public Services Commission, on AARP committees, on the board of the V.I. Medical Institute and on various Moravian Church committees. She's also a member of the St. John Business and Professional Women.
With the departure of former CZM Committee Chairman Julien Harley on March 31, she took over as chairman of that body. She is currently nearing the end of her second term on the CZM.
The CZM Committee now has a vacancy that may be hard to fill, Sewer says.
"People don't have a civic responsibility," she says. "They say they don't have time."
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.