Union leader concerned about students with BB, Elshot wants more reading for new school yearPOSTED: 08/10/12 12:15 PM
St. Maarten / By Torana Granston – With the advent of the new school year come Monday, president of the Windward Islands Teachers Union (Witu) Claire Elshot says that she remains committed to monitoring the development of education on St.Maarten and working with all teachers on their rights, benefits and responsibilities. In preparation for the new academic year, teachers have been attending workshops, the most recent being one that was held on Thursday at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort for secondary school teachers. Elshot said that her organization will continue to advocate for teachers whose experience often goes unrecognized even as they “multi-task” daily.
Active parenting is also essential to the development of children and education on St.Maarten, Elshot opined. She called for more parents to monitor their child’s activities, nurture them in becoming avid readers and “stay on top of their school work.” The union leader also gave a word of caution to parents who purchase smart phone devices such as the RIM Blackberry brand for their children.
“BBs are nice but academically they do not help the child,” she explained, adding that many teachers have complained that students are distracted by the devices while in classrooms. They should not even be in the classrooms in the first place she noted but many students “sneak” the phones in and in the heart of studies can be seen texting. They had been given these devices by their parents, which may not be the ideal situation for learning, she said. Elshot recommended that parents invest in their children through books and membership at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.
Reading “a story a day brings knowledge your way,” she stated.
One school teacher complained that she constantly receives bad grammar and sentence construction in students’ work.
“Students have texting language in their assignments instead of right words; they have ‘u’ instead of you and ‘thx’ instead of thanks. It is getting ridiculous.”
The union leader hopes that a comprehensive sports program will be developed and implemented in all elementary and secondary schools so that young athletes can be competitive locally, regionally and internationally. Her vision is to see St.Maarten produce world class athletes as other Caribbean islands are doing at the Olympic level. For now it is only the students of the Prins Willem Alexander School that are exposed to the Special Olympics.
On Wednesday Minister of Education, Sports and Youth Affairs Silveria Jacobs also said that the development of sports is “a priority for government.” There currently exists no sports policy but the minister confirmed that talks were being held in this regard.
But to produce quality athletes the suitability and maintenance of the island’s current sports facilities also need to be addressed. Repair works on the pool at the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex and other works at the sports facility are expected to commence soon, the Minister confirmed while added that she was in the process of finalizing the sports development foundation.
Hillside Christian Schools
“It is really a state of the art modern facility,” Elshot said of her visit at the new Hillside Christian Schools in Cay Hill a few days ago. The school will house 16 classrooms, a gym and a place for early childhood education.
The construction of the new Foundation Based Education (FBE) School was done by Taliesin Construction and managed by the Foundation for Protestant Education. It is an investment of 7.8 million guilders. With the capacity to accommodate approximately 400 students, half (200) of the students from Hillside’s St. Peters campus will be heading to Cay Hill come Monday, while the other 200 registrants will be new students. It will be primarily an English Language campus, the school’s website notes. There are currently 600 students in three schools at the original Hillside Campus at Grapefruit Road number 6.
On Thursday Elshot said “It is my desire to actually see that school continue to the third level of FBE or what we would refer to as Forms 1 and 2 of Cycle 3.” This expansion to a secondary division that Elshot recommends cater to students ages 13 and over since Cycle 1 provides for students 4 to 8 years old and Cycle 2 students that are between ages 8 and 12.
The Witu president concluded her address by wishing all school personnel a safe and successful school year.