~To continue working in education ~
SOUTH REWARD–After seven years of transforming Milton Peters College (MPC) and Sundial School for the better, Wim de Visser has reached retirement age and will be leaving as General Director of the two schools.
The 62-year-old, De Visser, told The Daily Herald on Tuesday that it is good for any organisation to change its leadership. “I have been General Director of SVOBE (School Board for Secondary Education) schools for seven years, and I think it is good for any organisation to change leadership after a while. Personally, I want to continue developing myself and re-energize for new opportunities,” De Visser said.
“At a certain point, an organisation needs to reflect on itself and change its organisational structure to be ready for future challenges. Sint Maarten’s educational institutions at the moment are at a crossroad to step into future professional developments in order to enhance the quality of education – rethink education (and) rethink the organisational institutions. We have these opportunities; we need to learn to see and recognise them.”
Although he will be leaving SVOBE, De Visser said, if he can be of any assistance to support educational institutions, he is available. He said also that if SVOBE needs him during a transitional period for advice or support, he might be available at their request.
De Visser took up the position as General Director of MPC and Sundial in August 2012. Asked what the journey has been like, he said: “A journey nobody can take away from me –my love for the students, colleagues and country Sint Maarten. I constantly had the feeling we were progressing with all the energy we have. Students everywhere in the world are similar. Sint Maarten deserves the best students on every level, both vocational as academic. Each person has talent; we as educators need to stimulate in a positive manner the exploration of these talents. My journey in education, also in Sint Maarten, is to serve that positive awareness in students’ minds. I am happy to be part of the community of Sint Maarten. It really made me a citizen of the world, realizing the huge interdependency we have as human beings.”
De Visser said education is in constant change, and everyone is desperately trying to keep up with technological developments. “We hardly can oversee the massive changes in the world that are ongoing. As the older generation, teachers teach a younger generation about the future changes in the technological world. Trying to catch up with these developments is one of the things I wanted to realise. Introducing technology as a powerful tool is one aspect. Change to student-centred education, where the students are our customers is another aspect. Offering meaningful education that is close to your world is of key importance.
“The job is not done and will never be done. Let us continue with the developments in vocational education – Caribbean based, but with global aspiration. Focus on activating didactically approaches in our teaching, work project based that recognises the capabilities of each individual student. And one other important aspect we need to realise is that in our multilingual world of Sint Maarten, a teacher of content is always aware of the way he is using the language of instruction. English is, for most people in Sint Maarten, their first language. Dutch is a foreign language to most of them. Thus, we must approach Dutch as a foreign language to make efficient use of it.”
He said also that education is a capital investment that is highly underestimated sometimes. “We need to stimulate critical thinking and stimulate our students to become entrepreneurs that take responsibilities for themselves, their families, their country and our global world. All we realised during my work as director was always teamwork. I am very thankful (to my colleagues) for having me in their mindset of growth and development.
As for the future, De Visser plans to continue to work in education or in a learning and developing environment, where taking responsibility, proactive behaviour and team spirit are key. “I am on retirement by law in Sint Maarten, not in the Netherlands or in my personal mindset. I am leaving SVOBE schools with a warm thank you for having me these years.”