Even with new Director Anton Hermans in place for the start of the 2014/2015 school year, things still got off to another rocky start on Monday with several teachers not on the island and many parents unhappy with Monday’s open house. This writes The Daily Herald. The parents will have a meeting coming Saturday at the Eugenius Johnson Centre.
Hermans is a Dutch national with a background as an assistant principal in Holland, a school administrator and an English teacher. He is married and has four children. “We have great hopes and expectations for what he is going to be able to do, what the school needs and how to take the school further into the future,” said Saba Education Foundation Board President Raquel Granger. “He has worked in some very diverse schools with maybe some troubled areas as well. He is familiar with dealing with different challenges within that educational system, and is immediately ready to work.”
Hermans was on hand for Monday’s open house, where he was introduced to students and parents in attendance. However, several parents said they were not aware of the open house being held Monday, and were not able to attend. “In our meeting on July 14, we had the parents asking for an open house. They said no problem, but the next thing we know, I went by the school Monday morning to find out who the new principal was, to find out there is an open house that same day from 12:00 to 1:00pm,” said Christalle Klaber of the Saba Parents Association (SPA). “We didn’t get an email. It didn’t get publicised. It was just on the Facebook page, and the website. If they really wanted to get in contact with us parents, they would have sent an email to the parents in the same way we have corresponded all the time. That was never done. So for me, personally, and a lot of parents, we have lost confidence in the board. I feel like they are misleading us again.”
Parents were also concerned that a promise to have all the new teachers in place by the start of school was not met. Currently, four of the six new teachers have yet to reach the island. Teachers for Dutch, Social Studies, Form 1, and Math classes are expected to be in place by the middle of next week. School officials say immigration and passport hurdles in the native countries of some teachers are responsible for the delays. “They are all hired. It’s just a matter of getting them on island,” said Granger. Members of the SPA however are concerned that students will get behind on their curriculum. They also point out that guarantees were made over the summer to have the teachers in place. “This is showing me that it is already becoming a problem with the children because they are not given enough time to study and get their exams,” said Janet Hassel. “They are starting out in a big hole, so when will these teachers be in place? “I also find it very insulting for me, who has a child, to find out that there is an open house that is not even publicised by the school or the school board – not even to let us meet the new teachers. I understand that the principal is present, but I understand that some teachers are still missing.”
School board officials acknowledge that the open house could have been better publicised, and say they are working with the new director to set up a venue for parents to meet with the new teachers and principle in early September. They also say that the new director and other teachers are filling in until their colleagues arrive next week.
“The open house was put on the Facebook page,” Granger said. “Perhaps if we had put it a bit earlier, the circulation would have been better. The new principal is proposing to have another around the first of September to have an information night and speak with the teachers and parents who haven’t been, along with any that want to go back. “A lot of the other teachers have been filling in and [Hermans – Ed.] has actually gone in to some of the classrooms. The most important thing is although they have not been getting that exact class, they have been getting something to do. “I would venture to say that all the teachers who are here right now are helping out in that respect. They are filling that gap. At least the children are in the classroom and doing some kind of work.”
The SPA will hold a meeting for all parents at the Eugenius Johnson Centre in the Windwardside on Saturday at 6:00pm.