I second Ronnie Jones' statement that a strong vocational/business education program is a good idea for out VI Schools. There is a need for trained, skilled repair people and a good chance for employment. This is also a wonderful lead-in for community mentor-ship partnering…. on St. John, you have a wealth of retired, knowledgeable folks who want to connect and give back to their community, and I'm sure on our sister islands as well. When I grew up we had VocEd. programs starting by 7th grade, so by the time you were in high school you actually had basics and background you could build on.
I learned from the article the high schools have Block Scheduling, and I would be curious if Superintendent Terry has looked into this. Yes, it was the vogue a while back, but stateside experience has shown that it does not work in every school. The intent of the idea is good, more time for more "in-depth" study, but the reality is its an uphill battle against student attention span… classes of more than 1 hour tend to whither into 'study hall' where not that much is accomplished. If I were to continue Block Scheduling, then it would definitely be in favor of the Vo Tech classes where a little more time would enable a hands-on or community service/mentor project to be accomplished and make it be the college bound curriculum students who are on Sen. Davis' 'chopping block'. Those students are already motivated, and have the goal setting skills to do their more 'in depth' study after school or at home. I truly believe the focus during the next 10 years at least should be on Vo Tech to make a viable, functioning program, with a high graduation rate, and a demonstrable record of employment upon completion of high school, and hopefully scholarship possibilities for post-secondary trade schools.
I am a retired teacher, with MA and 30 years experience. One of my brothers is a high school drop out with a GED, that thankfully someone mentored to be a plumber. I spent 30 years teaching and the highest salary I received was $39K/year after 30 years (stateside, it depends on the individual school district, its not a government job). My brother earns waaaaaaaaay more than that! Its time to give some 'status' and 'respect' to the blue collar graduates of VoTech programs. We have a glut of college trained. We have a need for graduates that can fix and do as well. Both career choices should be given their due.
Thank you, Bonnie Corbeil, for pointing out that our elected representatives do not respect us enough to attend meetings which the community understands are part of an elected official's job. They should have to do something to earn those hefty retirement checks after only a few years of service…. the rest of us have to work decades to get only a portion of what they can look forward to.
St. John, V.I.
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