Aug. 31, 2007 — They came from far-off states and countries to teach in the U.S. Virgin Islands school system, and Thursday the government welcomed them in grand style with a ceremony at Government House.
You have taken a leap of faith to be part of our team, Gov. John deJongh Jr. told the gathering of more than 90 enthusiastic new teachers.
From first-time teachers to those with more than 18 years of classroom time under their belts, the educators approached their first year of teaching V.I. students with eagerness and school spirit. Several have been on the job since January and have already developed affinities for their schools.
As each new teacher stepped up to the podium to introduce themselves, many said their experience so far had been wonderful, and engaged in friendly rivalry about whose school was the best.
They came from places like Dallas, Dominica, Florida, Jamaica, Las Vegas, Minnesota and Virginia. Some transferred from local private schools to the public school system. Some were native Crucians who came back home to teach, but the largest group came from the Philippines.
The Filipinos' enthusiasm was the most contagious. I have found a home away from home, said one. We take it as our privilege to be in this country and teach the people, said another.
Edgar Arevalo has only been teaching for four months. A native of the Philippines, his last job was playing the French horn in the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.
Armed with a bachelor's in music, Arevalo now teaches band at the Alfredo Andrews Elementary School. He said in the Philippines students are taught English from elementary school.
Judith Lacdao has been teaching at the Educational Complex since January. Her husband and three children moved from the Philippines to St. Croix. One child is a ninth grader at Central and another is at Lew Muckle School.
She finds teaching in the V.I. both rewarding and challenging. At first the children try to intimidate you, then they become curious about my culture. I learn their culture and history and they learn mine.
Mervelle Sage is fulfilling her dream of coming back to the V.I. to teach. A 1996 Central High School graduate, she taught for 10 years in Florida. I always wanted to come back home, and now I have the opportunity, said Sage, who is teaching second grade at the Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School.
With only three weeks on island, Janet Dretrake is looking forward to working as a special education teacher at Central High School. She moved to St. Croix from St. Paul, Minnesota, and said she feels very welcomed on island.
A native of St. Vincent, Merle Durand came from Dominica with her husband and children to the V.I. to teach school. She said she is impressed with the schools and the level of teaching. She has one child in Evelyn Williams Elementary School.
They have a great reading program and a good curriculum, she said.
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