Friday, March 4, 2022
The Public School System (PSS) continue to wade through the impact and challenges brought by the pandemic. This never-before crisis took a toll in our ability to provide our constitutional mandate of providing quality free educational opportunities to the nearly 10,000 elementary, middle and high school students on Saipan, Tinian and Rota.
However, the impact of the pandemic was mitigated with the initiatives that have been put in place even before the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. Among which is our continuous aggressive recruitment, both locally and off-island, for highly qualified classroom teachers to mitigate learning losses; our investment in technology as conduit to classroom learning also eased potential roadblocks (learning losses) hen pandemic prompted the immediate suspension in-person classroom learning.
The Public School System was among the first in the region to pioneer technology acquisition, through the One-Laptop initiative. Matter of fact, the federal government supports our direction for growth, through the Education Stabilization Fund and the America Rescue Plan Act of 202 that funds several classroom learning initiatives designed to close learning gaps during this pandemic-driven learning environment.
We have designed programs that are responsive to the social, emotional and mental learning aspect of all our public education stakeholders – students, teachers, administrators and staff, and our parents/community partners.
While there is no perfect solution to our troubles, I am proud to say that our public education system and our stakeholders have put in place a responsive system that is built upon our collective leadership and partnership; and, for us to navigate the challenges our PSS community is faced with, and our island community.
Our island community continue to see the hard work of our PSS family. We continue to put Students First, and, with this pandemic driven-learning environment, we have given greater emphasis on all of our public education stakeholders’ safety and wellbeing.
To our PSS students, our largest public education stakeholders, I encourage you to reach out to your teachers, to your school leaders, to your school community – to us. Keep persevering. The unprecedented nature of COVID-19 crisis will not deter us from getting this through together and come out stronger. We have been beset with challenges in the past and successfully made it through.
Continue learning, attend face-to-face and reap the benefits of what our schools offer. Attending school physically helps prevent learning loss, and allows you to access resources like tutoring, counseling books, and nutritious meals. Our schools on Saipan, Tinian and Rota will continue to be a safe place for you to learn and grow.
There are other activities students can participate in and stay engage. These are opportunities that help both the mental and emotional growth of our students. The Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers (GCEA) is a strong partner of our school district. Primarily, GCEA’s Marianas Village Pride (MVP) Campaign has been embraced by our public schools. Recently, during the launch of the MVP Campaign, GCEA received great response from our public schools. They all stepped up to support beautification and revitalization work.
Under the MVP Campaign, GCEA affords our students opportunities to help beautify our community through activities, such as the MVP Flag Art Contest, Bus Stop Beautification Contest, and the most popular activity, the Adopt-A-Median program. These activities promote a sense of community: a sense of ownership, notwithstanding how it improves village road safety and around school campuses.
The MVP campaign is a unique platform that affords our students lifelong learning experiences. I encourage all our students and staff, and our PSS community to take stock of what we can do as one community during this pandemic-drive environment. Take part in the MVP campaign to improve our islands. These activities promote a sense of community.
As our central government initiates major steps to reopen our travel industry, the work of GCEA to partner with PSS in revitalizing our community is both laudable and timely. I am a firm believer that tourism will play a very critical role in spreading trust, and, our partnership with GCEA, is a step in the right direction.
We need everyone on board if we are keen at attracting travelers into our islands. It is imperative that we all get to move together, as one. Everyone has the responsibility to promote village safety and wellbeing, and this is an opportunity to do so. This is our home, and, we should take care of it.
Let’s be proud of where we come from and let’s stand alongside one another to improve our communities for the better. Taking ownership of our villages leads to preserving the integrity of our community and sustaining a healthy environment for future generations.
Together, We Can!
For more information, visit the GCEA at cnmieconomy.com, on Facebook and Instagram (@cnmigov.economy), or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Antonio L. Borja
Antonio L. Borja is the current Vice-Chairman for the 17th CNMI State Board of Education (BOE) and has been on the BOE since Nov. 2020. He also serves as the Commonwealth Ports Authority Tinian Ports Manager.