By attending the 3rd SGU Principals and Teachers Forum, more than 150 secondary and primary school educators were able to engage in critical dialogue on issues that impact their schools’ success and the major role they play in the development of Grenada’s most valuable capital – its children.
Held at Allen Pensick Hall on March 7, the event was the brainchild of Dr. Allen Pensick, Provost Emeritus of SGU, who encouraged the University’s administration to host a series of workshops that provided Grenadian instructors with an opportunity to empower themselves and improve the quality of education on the island as a whole.
“Teachers have extraordinary commitment. First of all, you’re committed to your students. The fact that you’re here today to discuss ideas and new ways and techniques to extend your own expertise to them – that speaks volumes,” said Dr. Joseph Childers, Provost, SGU. “Also, you’re committed to learning, to making yourself better, to learn to communicate better, to learn new approaches, and to learn from each other. But mostly, I want to thank you for your commitment to the future because what you do is perhaps the most important thing anyone can do. You are visionaries, and you are helping to shape our future.”
Delivering an inspirational keynote address, encompassing this year’s theme “Empowering Teacher Leaders”, Dr. Nadia Lopez is pioneering a path of outstanding leadership carrying her message to classrooms far from Brooklyn of how under-privileged communities can beat the odds and create positive institutions that have a global impact.
“My vision was to open a school to close a prison. So that every child will be able to take over this world, become globally competitive, and know that they have value,” shared Dr. Lopez, Principal, Mott Hall Bridges Academy, Brooklyn, NY. “My goals were to find teachers who are passionate about teaching, have compassion for the community they serve, and a willingness to learn; to ensure that students receive social and emotional support so they can access knowledge with confidence and develop strategies to navigate life; and to build partnerships that support learning and teaching, by providing resources for access and opportunities.”
As the Academy’s founding principal, Dr. Lopez rose to international fame after the popular photoblog, Humans of New York (HONY), featured one of her students touting her as the most influential person in his life. Millions of people around the world learned of the positive learning environment, high expectations, and growing success rate at a school right in the middle of one of the most underserved communities in America. Her success story was shared through numerous media outlets and resulted in Dr. Lopez’s guest appearance on the Ellen Show, a visit with President Barack Obama at the White House, and receiving the Medal of Distinction from Barnard College.
“As part of SGU’s educational outreach to the community of Grenada, it is important for us to work with our principals and teachers and support them in matters such as strengthening leadership,” commented Dr. Glen Jacobs, Vice Provost of Educational Services at SGU. “That’s why we felt it so necessary to have Dr. Lopez here to share her experience of not having many resources and how important it was for our educators to hear how she did it anyway.”
This year’s Principals Forum built on the success of last year’s event, more than doubling its attendance. “Considering that many of the Grenadian students may become future students at SGU, we believe that the more help we can provide in educating and empowering our school leaders, the better for everyone,” said Dr. Jacobs.”