Feb. 1, 2006 — Deputy school superintendent Cecelia Knowles will take over as acting superintendent for St. Croix, Education Department spokesman Juel Anderson said Tuesday.
The current superintendent, Terrence Joseph retired Tuesday.
He spent more than 30 years working in the territory's school system.
Joseph, reached at home Wednesday on the first official day of his retirement, was about to run out the door for an appointment, but spent a few minutes chatting about his career's high and low points and his reasons for retiring.
While he didn't want to make his age public, he is retiring some years before the usual mid-60s age. He said he wanted to stop working while he was young enough to enjoy it.
He said he plans to spend some of his free time in volunteer endeavors and serving on private sector boards.
"Not government," he said, laughing.
He also said he wanted to retire now to give younger people with fresh ideas a turn at the helm.
"We should give our youth an opportunity to come on board," he said.
He said that he and retired St. Thomas/St. John superintendent William Frett initiated an exchange program with the Tampa, Fla. school district to help train teachers who wanted to move into administration.
He said that although he wanted to retire in 2005, he waited until St. Croix Central High School regained accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Joseph said he views the loss of accreditation in 2002 as one of his career's low points, and if the school had not been successful in its quest, he would have quit.
However, he said he was pleased that Education Complex also received accreditation for the first time.
He had some harsh words for parents who recently protested the mold situation at some St. Croix schools.
"Today, if it's not a six-star hotel, it's not good," he said, noting that most Virgin Islands homes also suffer from mold problems.
He said the fall's heavy rains brought to light problems like leaks thought to be resolved during the regular summer maintenance program.
He suggested that people upset with school maintenance problems become part of the solution by volunteering to help with repairs.
And he said he wasn't happy that people attacked him personally for problems in the schools.
"Some people think that officials are fair game. They are disrespectful," he said.
On the brighter side, Joseph spoke about some of his contributions.
He said that as principal at Arthur Richards Junior High School, he started mentorship, peer counseling and behavior modification programs at the school. He said these are programs he's encouraged other schools to follow.
Joseph said he also developed boys only and girls only assembly programs to address topics unique to each group.
He said he initiated Saturday detentions that gave students the option of doing maintenance chores for four hours instead of suspension.
"They didn't miss one of their classes," he said.
He said that additionally, when students saw someone writing graffiti on walls, they knew what it took of their effort to remove it.
Joseph said it was also good for teachers who wanted to come in on Saturdays, but didn't want to work in an empty school.
He said that as superintendent, he gave his principals the power to make the decisions on how to run their schools.
He said that he regularly rode the bus with students so he could find out what was on their minds. It also helped him keep tabs on problems at bus stops.
The Dominica-born Joseph grew up on St. Croix. He is a 1971 graduate of St. Joseph's High School and received his bachelor's degree from the University of the District of Columbia in 1974.
He returned to the Virgin Islands, earning his master's degree in 1980 through a Howard University summer program.
He started his education career as a social studies teacher at St. Croix's Central High School. After teaching there three years, he was appointed in 1978 as assistant principal at Arthur A. Richards Junior High School.
Four years later, he was named intermediate supervisor of education for the St. Croix District before returning to Arthur A. Richards as principal.
He was there for 16 years. In January 1999, he took over the superintendent's post.
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