As the Territory celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week at the beginning of this month, the Teacher Education Department (TED) at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) hosted Educators Night, which over the last few years has become a regular semester event. Educators Night, which is free and open to all teachers from American Samoa’s public and private schools, gives the TED an opportunity to share information on student learning, classroom management, teaching methodologies and more while local educators network with their peers. For this semester’s event, held on May 3rd in the College’s Multi-Purpose Center auditorium, the TED slightly modified the theme to Empowering Educators Night, placing the focus on teachers’ social, emotional and mental well-being.
Along with the TED, the ASCC administration, and more than 100 of the island’s teachers, a number of special guests helped make Empowering Educators Night a success, including Pastor David Katina who gave the evening’s opening prayer. Next, Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Ale gave the opening remarks, expressing his appreciation for the hard work educators face daily and the new administration’s goal of raising teachers’ salaries in the hopes of keeping the best teachers in our local classrooms. Talauega also shared his view that American Samoa needs more professionals in the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math)-related areas, and how he hopes dedicated teachers will provide a starting point for local students’ futures in these professions.
Educators Night typically follows a format where different stations are set up at various locations in the auditorium. The participating teachers form groups of equal numbers, and these groups spend 15-20 minutes at each respective station, with the TED staff keeping the rotation organized. At one station, staff members Monica Afalava and Darius Vaofanua from the American Samoa Health Education Center gave a presentation on Self Care. Another station featured a discussion of Mental Health led by Sitia S. Lemusu and Salilo Julia Levi-Foifua of the Department of Health. Representing the Department of Health & Human Services were Talalupelele Fiso and Tuumafua Maiava, who spoke on Suicide Awareness at their station. Additional stations were manned by TED faculty members Moresa Langkilde, Lance Glodowski and Brandy Shimasaki-Barber, each highlighting a different aspect of what the TED calls SMART Goals. SMART, a group of organizing principles especially applicable to the teaching profession, stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound.
After all the groups of teachers had rotated through each of the stations, everyone turned their attention to a presentation by guest speaker by Adney Reid, Mental Health Psychotherapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Reid’s topic was Emotional Health, and he talked about his experiences treating individuals experiencing stress and burnout. Reid shared the insight that the level of stress involved with most jobs rarely decreases, but individuals can still use proven methods of increasing their stress tolerance as a means of coping with challenging situations. Next, Ella Gurr, chairperson of the American Samoa Chamber of Commerce, spoke to the teachers to express the Chamber’s support for the work they do, and to emphasize how a well-educated local workforce is a crucial component to the Territory’s economic well-being.
To add an element of fun to the proceedings, raffle prizes and other gifts were given away throughout the evening, thanks to the support of the event’s community sponsors the American Samoa Chamber of Commerce; Good In American Samoa (GIAS); Vailu’u & Sons Inc.; Jaydyn Designs; Meredith Law, LLC; Cherries Salon; Neil’s Ace Home Center; Heaven’s Touch Massage & Spa; and Cheat Day. “Our special guests, the support of the ASCC administration, our community sponsors, and especially the participation of the teachers all contributed towards the evening being a great success,” said TED-ASDOE Recruiter Fa’aletaua Saili. “No matter how prepared we are,” she reflected, “it takes the presence and the engagement of the teachers to make this all worthwhile.”
For more information on the ASCC Teacher Education Department, see the ASCC Catalog available online at www.amsamoa.edu.