Agnes McPhetres, CEO of the Northern Marianas Technical Institute, reached out to the Public School System’s Board of Education last Friday and asked for its help in completing “ a true educational circle” within the Commonwealth.
“I have been appointed as the CEO for NMTI for at least one year, and I’m working to look and review this institute as a very valuable institute in our overall educational system in the CNMI,” McPhetres told the board.
In an interview, McPhetres described the concept of an education circle as one that sees the educational institutions of the Commonwealth as linked—with PSS, the Northern Marinas College, and NMTI working together to build a better workforce and community.
McPhetres pointed out that as NMC moves to expand its four-year degree programs, it has also chosen to abandon developing its vocational training program.
She said she understands the college’s decision, but now it creates a gap within the community’s education needs. However, she said NMTI can rise to “fill the gaps.”
McPhetres also shared with the board NMTI’s plan to transform itself into a charter school.
“The Legislature is looking to make [NMTI] a charter school for technical education, which will clarify the nebulousness of utilizing public funds in a private school,” McPhetres said.
According to her, a charter school can receive assistance from both local and federal sources.
Board chair Herman Guerrero offered his support to McPhetres. “We’ll encourage [Education Commissioner Dr. Rita Sablan] to work closely [with NMTI]. It is part of [the commissioner’s] plan to get our students to get college and career ready.”
McPhetres told Saipan Tribune that a charter school may be run more efficiently than other educational systems because it is essentially a “flat system.”
She said organization-wise there may be less bureaucracy and, because of this, more money flows effectively to the students.
Presently, she is working on developing the methodology of NMTI’s courses, with a shared core of applied math, computer literacy, and applied English, while nurturing the institution’s main focuses on construction craft, auto mechanics, culinary arts, and hotel and hospitality.
She told Saipan Tribune that NMIT’s development of would be a “vital move” in helping the community as it meets the workforce needs left by departing contract workers and a growing hotel and tourism industry.
She emphasized that foreigners as well as local workers may want the qualifications a vocational and technical school has to offer.