‘It’s looking good’

Posted on Aug 05 2021

A review of the Northern Marianas Technical Institute’s students, staff, curriculum, and organizational structure is “looking good,” according to a representative from the National Construction Center for Education and Research who visited NMTI last month for possible accreditation of the school.

Herbert “Bert” Johnston Jr., who is the education director of the Guam Contractors Association Trades Academy and is a sponsor representative and master trainer for the NCCER, said his site visit last July 19 to 22 showed him that NMTI is filled with “a lot of people that are extremely dedicated to what they’re doing here.”

In an interview with Johnston last July 22, he said he was actually involved with the formation of NMTI itself during the time of late businessman Anthony Pellegrino, and said that he gave Pellegrino advice at the time on how to make a trade school on Saipan a reality. Given NMTI’s recent changes in management, Johnston said he met with NMTI staff and NMTI’s board of trustees during his July 19-22 visit to speak again about the advice he gave to Pellegrino and to discuss NMTI’s options moving forward. He also updated NMTI’s staff on NCCER’s recent transition to fully-online testing, reviewed a large portion of NMTI’s classes for NCCER accreditation, and performed an audit of the trade school.

When asked for his outlook on NMTI in its current state, in his capacity as an NCCER representative, Johnston first made clear that the NCCER’s main intention is to see trades programs improve.

“Our job is not to be condescending and say, ‘You need to get to these standards.’ Our job is to help improve. …We’re just saying here’s a couple of issues you may want to pay attention to, these are a couple of corrections you may need to pay attention to. …But for the most part I haven’t seen any of that [with NMTI],” he said.

As far as the people that NMTI is currently built around, Johnston was very pleased with what he saw. “It’s looking good. …I have found a lot of people that are extremely dedicated to what they’re doing here, and [they] have huge potential in making this place a great place,” Johnston added.

NMTI’s board of trustees appointed Jodina Attao as NMTI’s interim chief executive officer last March 20. The school’s slated reopening on Aug. 18 after closing last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as NMTI’s other ongoing and future initiatives, have all taken place under the watch of Attao in recent months.

The NCCER is a not-for-profit education foundation created in 1996 that provides course accreditation and testing services for thousands of trade schools and programs across the United States.

Joshua Santos | Reporter
Joshua Santos is a Mount Carmel School AlumKnight and University of Florida Gator Grad with a passion for writing. He is one of Saipan Tribune’s newest reporters. Josh enjoys golf, chess, and playing video games with friends in his spare time. Reach out to him @rarebasedjosh on all socials.
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