SCELL officially opened at USM : “Develop commitment to lifelong learning”

POSTED: 09/25/15 9:39 PM


St. Maarten – The University of St. Martin (USM) officially opened its new school named “The St. Martin School of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning (SCELL)”, which was launched on August 1, this year. Ministers Rita Bourne-Gumbs and Claret Connor represented the Council of Ministers at the reception while Managing Director of the Windward Islands Bank Derrick Downes is the first official donor of the programs the school offers.

Master of Ceremonies Rolando Tobias gave an introduction giving insight about the many programs SCELL offers: professional trainings for organizations, organizational event planning, Women Island Network, AHLEI certified hospitality & restaurant training, community personal development workshops, young professionals network, forward action mentoring program for youth, educational workshops for schools, motivational presentations and business power networking.

USM Board President Valerie Giterson-Patophlet called the SCELL program the new vehicle to move the university forward. “The dealership is embodied in our fresh and talented President Dr. Francio Guadeloupe. Next to him is the new brand new vehicle in the person of Dr. Natasha Gittens who is committed to the success of this program. This is what we need to move St. Maarten forward. These programs will enhance the knowledge of our population. The program is the vehicle we need to change the community we have. USM started last year with a pilot program with WIB and this program was a success,” the USM Board President said.

“Successful and great leaders have one common characteristic trait which is their commitment to lifelong learning,” Minister of Education Rita Bourne-Gumbs said. “And with that type of commitment, we can only improve the quality of life, for our family, ourselves and our community. Even the community you live in will directly benefit from your commitment to continued learning. So I encourage our citizens, to develop a culture of being committed to lifelong learning; making use of SCELL, so that you can rise above life’s challenges. Especially the most difficult one; which is adversity. There will be always be elements that get in the way of your comfort and if you are better equipped mentally to handle those adversities, then and only then, will you be able to enjoy your success. You can have no regret by enhancing or developing the skills you already have, you can only be rewarded by reaping the benefits of doing so.”

The minister thanked SCELL Director Dr. Nathasha Gittens for her committed towards St. Maarten and its people. Bourne-Gumbs pledged the support of government for civil servants to make use of the programs SCELL offers.

Minister of Vromi Claret Connor was a former instructor of the University and he continues to help in any way possible. “USM without a doubt continues to evolve commensurate to the changes that are inevitable as a result of global economy, the changes in technology, our changing work force, our cultural and demographic changes and finally on the changing nature of work itself,” he said. “As a tourism-based economy and as the competitive regions abound, we have no option but to look to consider creative ways to remain relevant to the world. It is of paramount importance that we develop all of our people to their fullest potentials. Just think for a moment that our very own university now offers more opportunities for our citizens to develop new skills or train in certified disciplines that will expand their career opportunities, as well as open new doors. USM taking this is indeed a commendable significant step towards expanding and improving your (USM) offering.”

Since the opening of SCELL the school has received an overwhelming reception from the business community. Motor World recently joined the ranks of Windward Island Bank, Ltd (WIB) as a sponsor of SCELL by donating an undisclosed amount of cash to the school.
Managing Director of WIB Derrick Downes said he believed in the school as a pilot project was made for the bank last year, and a nine month course was done at the school to improve the human resources of the bank. “This is what we have to do as a bank, we believe in the program and we encourage the private sector to make use of these programs.”

On November 18, SCELL, in association with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institutes, (AHLEI) will offer the certified guest services professional training. It provides recognition for those individuals that know how to achieve and express exceptional service by engaging with their guests and creating memorable experiences. Recognized worldwide, the CGSP® designation is the highest acknowledgment of awarding-winning guest service for employees in the hospitality industry.

The dignitaries did a symbolic ribbon cutting and gave plaques to sponsors who made the school a reality. Managing director of WIB Derrick Downes received the first sponsor plaque from USM board members. SCELL’s specialized faculty includes Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, Erwin Wolthuis, Wendie Brown, Jan van Beek and Sara Stone. Heading the team is Dr. Natasha Gittens who has been an educator for over thirty years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, master’s degree in educational leadership with an emphasis on supervision and a Ph.D. in business management. Dr. Gittens also is a hospitality educator, certified by the American Hotel & Lodging Education Institute. Her expertise in adult education programs and her commitment to student academic advancement earned her recognition as Ashford University’s Professor of the Year. Her plight is to teach, educate and foster ongoing discussions about the significance and importance of human capital throughout Eastern Caribbean and beyond according to the SCELL program given out during the ceremony.



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