Head of the Department of Public Education Glenderlin Holiday (left) greets a teacher during her visit to one of the public schools on Monday.

PHILIPSBURG--Public schools across the country opened their doors on Monday under the collective theme “Unite to Win.”  

The Department of Public Education hopes that the theme will see the schools coming together in a positive way. “We have to take all our plans, activities and resources and all of our everything that comes with teaching, and come together to find ways and solutions so that we can be a united group,” Director of Public Education Glenderlin Holiday told The Daily Herald.

Holiday was busy on Monday visiting the various public schools and meeting with school managers to assess how the school year began, what attendance is like, whether students are in high spirits and to get an overall impression of how things are.

Public schools include Ruby Labega Primary School in Retreat Estate, Marie Genevieve de Weever School in Hope Estate, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr School in Dutch Quarter, Leonald Conner School in Cay Bay, Oranje School in Philipsburg and St. Maarten Vocational Training School (SMVTS) in South Reward.

Public schools are expected to focus more on their Living Values partnership programme, which the Department of Public Education adopted in 2008. Holiday said public schools face challenges with discipline and behaviour. The Living Values programme is where the theme for public schools is obtained from annually. The programme was introduced to school managers and churches were invited to partner with public schools to work with teachers to strengthen the values, morals and standards in the various schools. “We are hoping this year to move forward with it.”

In addition to the overall theme, each month public schools select a Living Values sub theme such as peace, love and unity and incorporate this into their own respective programmes.

Holiday said public school students have a different background, and every year stakeholders work to provide a safe environment “as best as we can” for our students. She stressed that safety and respect are important.

She urged parents to not give up on their children and to find ways to work with anyone to guide their children in the right direction.

In terms of reconstruction, Holiday said government is busy with the maintenance and repairs of schools. “There was a bit of delay, but all should be on track for public schools. It is the intention in the coming weeks, to work closely with the Minister [of Education, Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure – Ed.] VROMI, management of schools, teachers and everyone to ensure that maintenance and repairs assigned to public schools get done. We are hoping that by the end of this calendar year and not too far into the new year the major repairs will have been completed,” she noted.