Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports
Department of Education
Release Date:
Wednesday, 30 August 2023 - 10:00am

Remarks by Acting Chief Education Officer

Mrs. Orlandette Crabbe
Educators Professional Day

August 28th 2023

Good Morning,

A warm and heartfelt welcome is extended to each of you as we continue along this exciting chapter on the journey of re-imagining education in the Virgin Islands.  It is my distinct pleasure to welcome each of you to Professional Day and Summer Institute for 2023.

As we gather today, we are not just beginning another academic year, but we are setting the stage for a revolution in education. Our theme for this year capsulate the essence of the Ministry’s vision, Virgin Islands Education Moving Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead.  The continuation of this theme confirms our commitment to fostering innovation, creativity, critical thinking, and holistic learning through the integration of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

S.T.E.A.M. education equips our students with the skills they need to thrive in an ever-evolving world, preparing them, not just for jobs that exist today but also for opportunities for the future that neither you nor I have yet to envision.

We began our journey of reimagining education, in September 2022 and enjoyed a year filled with rich experiences for both students, teachers, parents and the wider community.  As we strengthen our commitment to the implementation of S.T.E.A.M. at all levels, let me take this time to thank each of you for your devotion to the re-imagination of education during the last school year. 

The past year has brought to light, the incredible resilience and adaptability of our educational community.  Despite the challenges, you our educators have risen to the occasion, embracing new methods of teaching and learning.   You have shown us that education knows no bounds and that with determination, we can reimagine education.

Whether you up scaled yourself, increased opportunities for experiential learning in your classroom, fostered creativity, integrated the arts, or ensured that you catered to a variety of learning styles, your passion, and dedication to the success of our students was evident. 

Teachers, you are the backbone of this education system and as we continue our voyage towards a transformed education system, we extend a heartfelt thank you to you for your commitment to our students.

I had the pleasure of observing you as you relished in your well-deserved summer break.  I looked on with glee as you celebrated your hard work and rejuvenated yourselves in preparation for this, the start of the new school year.  Boy were you guys outside! Over the last couple of days, I could not help to smile, as I saw your endless posts mourning the loss of your summer vacation.

Summer-break may be over, but the Ministry of Education encourages all educators to remain outside as we embark on this new and exciting school year.  Whether you are a principal, assistant principal, teacher, school counselor, learning support assistant or trainee and whether you have been in education for twenty plus years, or this being your first time in a classroom, our students, our territory, need you to be outside.

We need you to get outside of your comfort zone.  This will call for you to embrace new and engaging teaching methods.  The world is evolving rapidly and our students deserve an education that prepares them for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

Incorporating innovative teaching techniques not only keeps students excited about learning but also helps them develop critical skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, and adaptability. Consider adding project based learning, integrating technology, and fostering collaborative learning in your classrooms.  As you prepare for the school year ahead, embrace change and be open to adapting your approach to meet the evolving needs of your students. Look at your neighbour and tell them get outside your comfort zone.

Educators, we need you to include outside resources as you plan to deliver the most effective classroom experiences.  Infuse your teaching with the power of outside resources to create engaging and impactful learning.  The world is a vast reservoir of knowledge, waiting to be tapped into for the benefit of education.  By incorporating external materials and resources, you can enhance your lessons, captivate your students' interest, and foster a deeper understanding of the subjects you teach.  

So invite guest presenters, utilise online learning platforms, include documentaries and videos, summon cultural and industry experts and incorporate global perspectives to show case diverse viewpoints.  Utilising external resources demonstrates your commitment to providing a holistic and dynamic learning experience.  Your dedication to incorporating diverse perspectives and real-world relevance will undoubtedly make this school year both engaging and impactful for you and your students.  Tell your other neighbour to utilise outside resources!

Our students need you to venture outside the four walls of your classrooms!  As a new school year begins, I urge you to break free from the confines of your classroom's four walls and embrace the transformative potential of experiential learning.  By venturing beyond traditional boundaries, you can create lasting impact and significantly enhance student engagement.  Real-world experiences provide invaluable context, foster deeper connections to learning, and equip your students with essential skills for the future.

Infuse outdoor learning and expeditions, introduce service learning, take virtual field trips and tours, create industry partnerships, and foster community partnerships.  By taking learning beyond the classroom, you not only make education more exciting but also instill a love for lifelong learning in your students.  The memories and skills gained from these experiences will stay with them for years to come.  

As we stand on the precipice of a new era in education, I encourage each of you to think outside the box and embrace the exciting journey of reimagining education.  The world is evolving rapidly, and our students deserve an educational experience that equips them with the skills, knowledge, and mindsets to thrive in this dynamic landscape.  

It's time to break free from conventional boundaries and explore innovative ways to inspire, engage, and empower the next generation.  Let us embrace the development of skills and competencies versus the over-emphasis on content. Include experiential learning, foster networking and collaboration, encourage independent learning and exploration, promote digital literacy and alternative assessment methods.  Remember that the possibilities are endless when we re-imagine education.  By being innovative and creative in your approach to teaching and learning, you have the opportunity to shape the future of education and empower generations to come.

As a ministry, we too have challenged ourselves to get out of our comfort zone, to utilise outside resources, venture outside the four walls of the ministry and think outside the box.  That is why this year we are pleased to announce the following new initiatives.  The introduction of V.I. Professional Standards for Educators, a comprehensive guide to being successful in education in the Virgin Islands.  These standards are tied to a brand new appraisal document and a new 360-appraisal process, where students will provide feedback for teachers, teachers will evaluate department heads, principals and assistant principals, and school leaders will appraise staff from the Ministry of Education.

This year, we are proud to announce the introduction of S.T.E.A.M. Innovations.  A course design specifically to foster digital literacy, introduce coding and robotics, and develop critical thinking and logical reasoning.  This course will be rolled out in all public secondary schools from grades seven to nine, starting in September 2023.

We have also made revisions to the curriculum, our curriculum scope and sequence for several subjects, with plans to pilot their implementation this school year.  We are pleased to inform you that several new positions have been added to our fraternity this year. 

They include school improvement officers, and at this time I pause to introduce our two school improvement officers, they are Mr. Theodore John, and Ms. Tonya Bertie.  Math Specialist; and Teachers of English as a second language.  With these added positions, we are confident that we will continue to meet the needs of all students. 

There will be several other new initiatives being introduce during the course of this year.  To keep you informed, we plan to utilise our V.I. Schools platform more effectively, and begin sending relevant circulars and memos directly to your inbox.  Fostering more efficient communication between the ministry and you our hardworking teachers.

So educators this school year, let’s step into the outside lane, push our boundaries and redefine what education can be.  Reimagining education is about transforming the very essence of how we engage with knowledge, how we nurture curiosity, and how we empower our students to become lifelong learners. It is about creating learning environments that encourage critical thinking, collaboration, and a deep sense of empathy.  But remember our journey isn’t just about what we teach, it’s about how we teach.  It’s about nurturing a passion for learning that extends far beyond the classroom.  It’s about instilling values that create responsible citizens and compassionate human beings.

So when we sing out the words we outside from Viking, a regional soca artist, we mean we are pursuing new and innovative approaches to teaching and learning that inspire critical thinking, innovation, creativity, digital literacy, entrepreneurship and create community minded individuals who are life-long learners and leaders.

Welcome back, my dear educators, to a year filled with promise, innovation, and transformation.  Let's embark on this journey together, as we imagine education through the lens of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

So join me by rising to your feet, pulling out your cell phone, and we are going to say boldly – We are reimagining Education in the Virgin Islands!  WE OUTSIDE!

Thank you.