This is an open letter to the V.I. Board of Education and to the University of the Virgin Islands. I recently applied for a position as an assistant principal on St. Thomas. I hold a Master's Degree in Education with a concentration in Educational Administration from the University of the Virgin Islands (then- College of the V.I.). In addition, I have served as Department Chairperson for Foreign Languages at the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School for the past nine years. I hold teaching certificates for the elementary and secondary levels since 1989. I, therefore, felt well qualified for the position that I was seeking.
Much to my surprise, however, I was informed by Ms. Alscess Lewis-Brown, director of the Division of Human Resources of the Department of Education (in a letter dated May 30, 2002), that I would not be granted the opportunity to interview for the position because I was lacking "certain requirements" to be considered for certification by the Board. Certification was an eligibility criteria for the position. After making calls to Ms. Lewis-Brown's office as well as to the V.I. Board of Education, I was informed by personnel at both offices that a Master's degree with a concentration in administration as is offered by the University of the Virgin Islands does not qualify one for automatic board certification because the Board seeks three courses in administration beyond the U.V.I. requirement .
I have written to both Ms. Lewis Brown and to the V.I. Board of Education seeking clarification as to exactly what these courses should be but to no avail. I recently received a memorandum from Dr. Yvonne Williams-Henry, Co-Chair of the Professional Staff Certification Committee, indicating, once again, that in order to complete the certification process for Assistant Principal/Principal I needed: "Additional Credits in Major Field: (3) Administration" This memo gave me the impression that I only needed three credits in administration as opposed to three courses in administration (nine credits). I have yet to receive clarification or an indication as to what course titles the board is recommending.
I know that some of our current administrators received their Master's Degrees from the University of the Virgin Islands (formerly C.V.I.) and had no problems securing their positions. I consider it unfortunate to be denied a position due to the fact that the Board is now operating on a new policy. I received my degree in 1985 when, it seems, such policies were obviously not in effect.
If there is a problem with UVI's Masters Program, I would like to see the Board and the University collaborating to ensure that UVI graduates are board certifiable. Since the V.I. Code (Title 17, Sections 121-123) gives the Board the right to establish criteria for the certification, selection, and appointment of principals and other professionals of the Department of Education, collaboration by these two entities could only prove helpful to all involved and ultimately to the community as a whole. Working together we can help to improve the quality of education, truly make education our top priority, and enhance the quality of life in these our precious Virgin Islands.
Myrna V. van Beverhoudt
EDUCATION BOARD AND UVI NEED TO COLLABORATE
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