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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
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Education Expo Touts School Improvement

They came for the entertainment and a chance to win prizes. They stayed for information about how they can help make the territory’s public schools better.

More than 100 parents and their students gathered at the Sunny Isles Shopping Center Saturday for an educational expo organized by the V.I. Department of Education. A similar event was held Saturday at the Tutu Park Mall on St. Thomas.

As music from the St. Croix Central High School Caribs Marching Band echoed across the pavilion area at Sunny Isles – drums beating the rhythm while brass blared and the dance squad and majorettes kept time – parents earned stars on their "report cards" by visiting the demonstration tables set up throughout the area. Five stars qualified the parents for a prize drawing; at least 10 stars qualified them for one of the major prizes, which included an Apple iPad donated by publishing giant Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and a $500 Home Depot shopping spree.

The prizes were offered to entice parents into learning more about the public school’s Education System Improvement Program, known as "eSIP," and how they can play a part in it, according to Yvette Arnold, coordinator of the program.

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In the past, school improvement programs were generated by individual schools looking at their own perception of how to make their programs better. Under the eSIP approach, territory-wide goals were created in collaboration between the Department of Education, the districts and the individual schools, Arnold said. The goals are: improving student academic achievement, improving the school’s culture so that it becomes a welcoming, inviting place, and increasing teacher and administrator effectiveness.

"Anything that goes into a school plan must align with those goals," Arnold said.

Parents and other community members have a role to play in achieving those goals, she said, and to get their buy-in, the department planned Saturday’s events. Every office, department and agency related to schools and education were represented, including the Departments of Health and Labor, the St. Croix Foundation and the Virgin Islands School Board. To be eligible for prize drawing, parents had to visit the tables and show they’d learned something.

At one table, Janet Brow was kept busy extolling the Parent University program, which provides a free series of workshops on parenting and helping children through the school system. She said the program also offers free child care and meals for the kids, so parents have no excuse for not attending.

At another, Jo Murphy touted vocational training at the Career and Technical Education Center – "We want every student to be career and college ready," she said – while Adult Education Principal David Rossington pushed his program for anyone between the ages of "16 to a hundred."

Meanwhile, entertainment continued throughout the afternoon, with performances by the Rising Star Steel Pan Orchestra, the St. Croix Central High ROTC drill team and quadrille dancers from several St. Croix public schools.

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They came for the entertainment and a chance to win prizes. They stayed for information about how they can help make the territory's public schools better.

More than 100 parents and their students gathered at the Sunny Isles Shopping Center Saturday for an educational expo organized by the V.I. Department of Education. A similar event was held Saturday at the Tutu Park Mall on St. Thomas.

As music from the St. Croix Central High School Caribs Marching Band echoed across the pavilion area at Sunny Isles – drums beating the rhythm while brass blared and the dance squad and majorettes kept time – parents earned stars on their "report cards" by visiting the demonstration tables set up throughout the area. Five stars qualified the parents for a prize drawing; at least 10 stars qualified them for one of the major prizes, which included an Apple iPad donated by publishing giant Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and a $500 Home Depot shopping spree.

The prizes were offered to entice parents into learning more about the public school's Education System Improvement Program, known as "eSIP," and how they can play a part in it, according to Yvette Arnold, coordinator of the program.

In the past, school improvement programs were generated by individual schools looking at their own perception of how to make their programs better. Under the eSIP approach, territory-wide goals were created in collaboration between the Department of Education, the districts and the individual schools, Arnold said. The goals are: improving student academic achievement, improving the school's culture so that it becomes a welcoming, inviting place, and increasing teacher and administrator effectiveness.

"Anything that goes into a school plan must align with those goals," Arnold said.

Parents and other community members have a role to play in achieving those goals, she said, and to get their buy-in, the department planned Saturday's events. Every office, department and agency related to schools and education were represented, including the Departments of Health and Labor, the St. Croix Foundation and the Virgin Islands School Board. To be eligible for prize drawing, parents had to visit the tables and show they'd learned something.

At one table, Janet Brow was kept busy extolling the Parent University program, which provides a free series of workshops on parenting and helping children through the school system. She said the program also offers free child care and meals for the kids, so parents have no excuse for not attending.

At another, Jo Murphy touted vocational training at the Career and Technical Education Center – "We want every student to be career and college ready," she said – while Adult Education Principal David Rossington pushed his program for anyone between the ages of "16 to a hundred."

Meanwhile, entertainment continued throughout the afternoon, with performances by the Rising Star Steel Pan Orchestra, the St. Croix Central High ROTC drill team and quadrille dancers from several St. Croix public schools.