In this blog I want to share personal observations. The first observation is Hemmie van Xanten. He lives on Saba, is director of the secondary school there and is building a boutique hotel, he is already half way and business is running. What do I like about him? He wants to stay. He wants to build a legacy of what he did with that school and how he set up that hotel. He has made Saba his home.
Statia needs directors and teachers like that.
The other observation was a close by observation of my husband. He taught history at the Gwendoline van Putten for 4 and 5 Havo. In the year we came, the 4havo (tweede fase bovenbouw) started for the first time. He is a history teacher and thought he was going to teach history. I don’t remember how it went, I think they also spoke about “maatschappijleer” and “aardrijkskunde”, but they never mentioned “afdelingsleider”. When he came to the island it was decided he had to give those three subjects and be the afdelingsleider of the havo.
I think I can speak for all of the havo 4 en havo 5 children who had him as history teacher that they learned a lot from Mr. Kusters. I think that when they grow old, the first thing they remember about Mr. Kusters is that he taught them about Martin Luther King and the black power movement. He talked with them about slavery and he let them discover their roots in a portfolio they had to make.
The lessons my husband gave, were in English. He had to talk English to reach to the children and have them clearly understand what he is saying.
Unfortunately things went wrong in the school. The same things that repeat itself, year after year. If my husband would have given the respect and freedom he needed, he would have stayed on the island. He always said this job was the most interesting job he had ever had. He liked the students.
What happened to my husband, also happened to my husband. There are many students who will have good memories of both Mr. Kusters and Mr. Kerkhoff. These men spoke English fluently as if it was their mothertongue. That really helped a lot!
I hope next time the board is more carefull with people’s abilities. See them for what they are and use the strength. You need to be very intelligent to do that. I think each member of the board might have some sort of intelligence, but not the intelligence for managing talents of people and help them grow. And also not the intelligence to understand what children need. Maybe some of them have, but as a functioning board, they do not. There has to be a radical move to change this and that only happens when good teachers stay on the island.