A candidate running for a seat on the CNMI State Board of Education expressed support for the board's “Wellness Policy,” saying it is one way to promote and encourage high literacy rates within the Public School System.
Janice Ada Tenorio, who seeks to represent Saipan on the board, explained yesterday at the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting that this policy guides the public schools' nutrition program and was developed and implemented through a collaborative community process.
Tenorio said that better nutrition has been linked to higher achievement on standardized tests, increased cognitive function, attention, and memory, and other positive behavioral indicators such as improved school attendance and cooperation.
“Hungry kids are more likely to divert themselves away from educational studies and from school participation in classrooms, from having friends,” Tenorio told Rotarians.
“Undernourished children are more likely to repeat a grade and require more special education and possibly mental health services, which are so expensive to provide within [PSS] or even in the CNMI,” she added.
Tenorio underscored the need to nurture literacy in public schools as it serves as a “gateway” to knowledge in many disciplines.
While PSS already offers training programs on nursing, culinary, automotive, computer science, and tourism and hospitality, Tenorio articulated the need to enhance the current curriculum by working alongside agencies to determine what skills are needed in the workforce.
She proposed a survey among companies and students in public schools to identify other occupational skills needed to replace nonresident workers, adding that construction, electrical, plumbing and other related trades are “great” disciplines to learn but “very costly.”
Tenorio also articulated the need for PSS to collaborate with the Northern Marianas College and the Northern Marianas Trades Institute to ensure that advanced training on career and technical programs are offered.
She also offered the “buddy system” as a means to do hands-on training for individuals who can replace long-term staff that businesses on island have.
If elected, Tenorio vows to collaborate with educational and other community leaders to strengthen the islands' educational goals, ensure that every penny spent by the board is directed to children's education, and become a “strong voice” for children and schools across the Northern Marianas.
Tenorio received her bachelor's degree from Boise State University in Idaho and master's in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University.
Currently employed by the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, Tenorio also worked at NMC for over 17 years, with her last position as dean of Student Services. She also volunteers for community organizations, including the CNMI/Guam Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and the Parents Advisory Council for State.