Students at the Saipan Seventh-day Adventist School recently welcomed not only a new school year but also a new school principal.
Sharon Nguyen, who grew up in Pennsylvania, arrived on Saipan last July 12 to take over the position left vacant by Michael Berglund. A former principal of Katy Adventist Christian School in Texas, Nguyen will oversee some 80-plus students and some 11 faculty and staff on Saipan.
The Saipan SDA School, which is composed of a child development center and elementary school components, is one of the schools owned and operated by the SDA Church through the Guam Micronesia Mission.
Nguyen, who came to Saipan with her husband, now SDA school teacher and pastor Thai Nguyen, disclosed Friday that she was initially hired as a first grade teacher.
“The next day after we arrived on island, GMM, which is in charge of and oversees the school, called me and asked me if I'd be willing to take over the principal position. It has been such an honor and a blessing,” Nguyen said at the open house of the SDA Clinic in celebration of its 40th anniversary.
Nguyen said that although she is “not at all hesitant” to give up the administrative position and go back to classroom teaching, she has “never been happier” than when she decided to serve as principal for the Saipan SDA School.
“I love my job. It's very busy, there's always things happening, there's problems to take care of and issues that come up but I've never been as less stressed as I am here as principal,” she said.
While Nguyen is determined to continue some of the programs that Berglund initiated during his tenure, she is also working on introducing new activities such as an academic or science fair, which is already on its initial planning stage.
She is also hopeful that the Saipan SDA School will increase its enrollment figures by at least 15 due to the high student-teacher ratio in public elementary schools on island. At present, a total of 20 students are enrolled in the child development center located within the church grounds along Quartermaster Road, and 61 more in the elementary school in San Antonio.
“Our enrollment increases typically around October and November, so we should have no problem reaching our goal there,” added Nguyen.
One of her long-term goals for the Saipan SDA School is to merge the child development center and elementary levels in one campus, and hopefully be able to offer educational program from preschool to grade 12. At this time, the school has up to 8th grade.
With the islands’ warm and friendly people, enthralling waters and amazing marine life, Nguyen said she is already “incredibly in love” even after only two months of stay.
“I grew up in the mountains and so for me, this is a brand new experience,” she said as she shared how she enjoys eating fresh fruits picked from their backyard or buying homegrown vegetables and other local products at the Tuesday Market.
“I don't know how else to explain it, but it's home,” added Nguyen.