Anguillian teachers tour special-needs schools

PHILIPSBURG–Twenty educators from Anguilla visited St. Maarten recently for an educational tour to learn about facilities in St. Maarten that work with children with special needs.

The group included Anguilla Department of Education head Rhonda Connor, Education Officer Jacqueline Jeffrey-Connor, Ministry of Education education planner Dawn Reid, school principals, the Special Education Coordinator and representatives of high school and primary schools. The visit was the closing activity of their celebration of Special Needs Week in March.

Arrangements for the visit were handled by Public Education Division head Glenderlin Davis-Holiday and Prins Willem-Alexander School Director Ana LaBega. The first half of the tour took place at Prins Willem-Alexander School in Belvedere, the only elementary school for special education on the island, where the Anguillian educators received a warm welcome from the pupils, beginning with a drum roll when they arrived at the school, followed by the children playing the St. Maarten song and two other musical renditions on steel pans.

A local breakfast of salt fish, johnny cakes, stuffed eggs and pastries was served before Davis-Holiday gave the official greeting. After eating, the group was given information from local organisations that provide services to students with special needs.

Service Division head Olga Mussington and Ministry of Education Student Support Services Department (SSSD) Educational Diagnostician Janique Baily-Kolfin described the services SSSD provides to students and their parents, which include testing children to determine whether they qualify for special education.

The Catholic schools presented information about their Individualised Education (IE) Programme for students with special needs and behaviour issues. Sister Regina School Principal Samanthe Beton, Sister Marie Laurence School Principal Karen Whattley and IE Coordinator Miranda Veltman shared information about the programme and some of the strategies used in the schools to help improve student behaviour.

The visitors also learned about Sister Basilia Centre. A short video was shown and then a presentation was made by its manager Mimi Hodge and Guidance Living unit leader LaTresha Hassell, where information was given about the centre’s clientele and programmes in place to help develop academics, social emotional stability and life skills.

LaBega shared information about Prins Willem-Alexander School, such as the criteria for being considered for the school, what is taught in the school, programmes they have in place to improve student performance and behaviour, and plans for the further development of the school.

After the presentations, the group toured Prins Willem-Alexander School before going to St. Maarten Vocational Training School where they were given information about the school along with a tour. The visit ended after a tour of Sister Basilia Centre.

Jeffrey-Connor expressed her gratitude to the organisers in St. Maarten for arranging the presentations and tours. She said she was truly impressed with the level of organisation and hospitality shared with the Anguillian delegation and the feedback from the delegates was that they were grateful for the opportunity to learn what their neighbouring island of St. Maarten is doing to cater to children with special needs.

Source: The Daily Herald