MHS remedies teacher shortage


Marianas High School has found substitute teachers for their social studies and math classes that had been left teacher-less and without instruction for weeks when their original teachers had to go on medical leave.

To remedy this lack of instruction, MHS principal Cherlyn Cabrera decided to merge an AP History class with a U.S. Government class to give students instruction time, but this backfired as a chorus of some 70 letters to the editor hit the Saipan Tribune’s copy room last Wednesday afternoon, expressing their frustration over the arrangement.

Since then, Cabrera said, she and other school administrators have talked things out with the frustrated students of the combined classes to get their feedback.

“For a lot of students they just want to know why? Why is this happening, why am I facing this?” she said.

She described the experience as “a lesson” learned. “Every time I make a decision, especially with those it affects, I need to talk to them and see how they are with this decision. Teachers…were onboard with helping. I had the students’ interests in mind when I made the decision. I thought they’d be glad to finally have instruction and finally have a teacher, but I guess they had other perspective I didn’t think about.”

She hopes they can “keep communication lines open.”

She said that although merging classes “is a very common practice in elementary [school]” it is not very common in high school.

“If anything, I’m kind of glad that the [Saipan Tribune] article came out today because it opened an honest discussion. Some of them were afraid to tell me things. …It fostered a lot of really good communication with the students. They had awesome suggestions.”

She added that the new substitutes “are ready to work with us very, very soon.”

Education Commissioner Dr. Rita Sablan explained that Cabrera had interviewed several substitute teacher candidates but most of the candidates had also been interviewed in other schools.

“They chose other schools that also had a need for substitute teachers,” Sablan said. ‘That was the challenge at [MHS].”

Sablan hopes students will be open to Cabrera.

“We should really be proactive in terms of how we can work with our student body and work with our teachers to review situations and work together to resolve situations… We could have prevented [this] and worked and helped the students to understand why things happen the way they do.”

“I think the most important thing is we need to assure the parents out there is that the principal has resolved the situation of substitute teachers for the staff on medical leave.”

She called it “unfortunate that we have three teachers in very critical content areas” out on leave.

One MHS student who wrote a letter to the editor said they would to talk more regularly with their principal. “That’s great, we are finally being heard,” she said.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at

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