Veronica Lawson, is a teacher experienced in both primary and high school education with a Masters in Educational Leadership. Veronica arrived in American Samoa in August 2022 to work alongside educators in the Diocese. These are her initial reflections.
I have reflected for some time on how the skills I’ve had the opportunity to learn as an administrator and teacher might be engaged to develop other teacher’s capacity. Palms vision and mission provided a perfect platform. I resigned my position as principal in a Brisbane Catholic school to attend Palms’ orientation course in Sydney in May 2022.
The course provided very comprehensive preparation. After it I waited somewhat impatiently for my placement in American Samoa to begin. COVID restrictions were still in place for Samoa so I was not permitted to enter this stopover point until after August 1st. Even then there was a quarantine period of three days and more testing before I could board a flight to Pago Pago.
I was warmly welcomed by Ms Janette Alverez [feature image] Director of Catholic Education and Sr Palepa, a Marist Missionary Sister. Their immediate hospitality made a great impression – sharing a meal is an essential part of American Samoan culture.
My position description involves providing mentoring and professional support for local educators and modelling best practice in classroom teaching. Under the auspices of the Diocese of American Samoa I’ll be working primarily at Fa’asao Marist High, and St Theresa’s Elementary Schools.
The education system in American Samoa follows the United States with their main long vacation from June to the beginning of September, so my arrival coincided with teacher preparation for the coming school year 2022-2023. I was able to participate in a three-day Teacher Orientation program involving four schools which provided an excellent springboard into meeting teachers and principals of these schools.
At the invitation of the acting principal, Ms Tifa Fanene during the first week of the school year I presented two professional development sessions (classroom instruction and classroom management) at Marist St Francis. As there are a number of new teachers at the school my plan for the immediate future is to spend some time with these teachers in their classroom setting.
As I begin the major challenge for me is to develop relationships with and between the Office of Catholic Education, as well as the teachers and principals of the schools with whom I am associated. Their trust and guidance will underpin my role as teacher and mentor.