In sharing his plans to build an educational system that he said will guide children from preschool to the first years of their career, Gov. Albert Bryan, Jr. announced Monday his nomination of former St. Thomas-St. John deputy superintendent Racquel Berry-Benjamin to lead the Education Department.
A former Labor commissioner, Bryan shared in his first State of the Territory address how the two departments – combined with the University of the Virgin Islands and Career and Technical Board – can partner to develop a pipeline that feeds right into the territory’s workforce.
“The key to this success, however, is continuing our focus on early childhood education,” the governor said. “The expansion of the education system to include K-4, which has been mandated by law, is far overdue. That is the foundation of this pipeline. It is our goal to expand this program into as many schools as it takes to ensure access to every four-year-old in the territory.”
Retooling the territory’s career and technical education programs and systems comes next, and Bryan said the goal is to produce technically trained workers who are nationally certified.
“We are dedicating $2 million in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds specifically to apprenticeships and national certification programs,” the governor announced.
Government contractors will then be asked to tap into this pool and train young adults in specific areas, he added.
The current state of the Education system, which, among other things, is running on many sites through modular classrooms, makes realizing these goals difficult, but Bryan said the first goal is to make sure students are in safe facilities before moving forward with rebuilding permanent ones.