PSS conducts successful Virtual Leadership Institute

Posted on Aug 03 2020


The Public School System held its first-ever virtual leadership institute on July 30 in line with its class reopening plan to ensure a safe and smooth Sept. 8 reopening of classes in the Commonwealth.

PSS is implementing a hybrid approach when it opens the new school year, which is a combination of remote and face-to-face instruction.

There were 90 participants in the virtual training sessions. They include the school district’s key management team, CNMI Board of Education members, school principals and vice principals, program leaders, and aspiring leaders.

“This was a…historic event for PSS,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred B. Ada in a statement.

In welcoming participants during the day-long training, Ada said that education leaders “must seize the opportunity to reflect on what has been learned, and what matters most” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[This is about] education reimagined. As leaders we must rise up and be aware of the change [and challenges],” Ada said. “How will we choose to respond? We have the opportunity to help students maintain the level of learning; we have the opportunity to creatively manage the issues while building a bridge to a reimagined education system.”

Board of Education chair Janice Marie A. Tenorio said the “Reimagine, Reengage, and Reopen” plan/direction of PSS during this public health crisis highlights the goal of sustaining educational opportunities to the over 10,000 public elementary, middle and high school students in the CNMI.

“The key here is engagement—bringing everyone on board,” Tenorio said.

The keynote speaker was Maisie B. Tenorio, a founding member of the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

PSS Senior director of Curriculum and Instruction Jackie A. Quitugua talked about “Leading Change: Building a Purposeful Community.” This is about “Change starts with me and we!  With PSS educators’ rich experiences, knowledge, skills combined it gives every educator the courage and clarity to meet and welcome change.”

“(This is a) call to reflect on what our past taught us so that we can achieve our PSS organization’s full potential as we move forward and reimagine our schools, our CNMI PSS. Let us reimagine, reengage to our purpose and produce outcomes that matter to all…” said PSS Senior Director Quitugua.

School administrators presented the key tenets of leadership that were spread throughout the virtual general session.

Koblerville Elementary School Principal Naomi Nishimura and Dandan Middle School Principal James Sablan talked about “Culture”. Participants – education leaders – discussed the importance of rebuilding a healthy organization/school culture while “leading during a time of change.

“This is about a sense of community and cooperation as we prepare to open the next school year,” Principals Nishimura and Sablan said.

Newly appointed PSS Program Director for Mathematics Dr. Rizalina Liwag talked about “Input & Flexibility”. This is about understanding a widely-respected research by the education think-tank Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) on school leadership responsibilities associated with managing change.

“Input and flexibility are the two leadership responsibilities that correlate managing change,” Dr. Liwag said.

Why “Communication Still Matters Today” and its impact on academic achievement as outlined in McREL’s meta-anaylsis on the 21st century responsibilities of school leaders was presented by Senior Director of Accountability Research and Evaluation Lynnette Villagomez.

Virtual training participants were also provided with information “how to communicate with teams, stakeholders, and the community during a crisis such as COVID-19 to foster trust and calm.”

Francisco M. Sablan Middle School Principal Cherlyn Cabrera Osung and Saipan Southern High School Principal Vince Dela Cruz spoke about the leadership tenet “Order” – or how the school district must maintain “order in time of chaos.”

A session on relationship highlighting the collection of work from MCREL’s meta-analysis on the 21 responsibilities of school leaders, Dr. Brene Brown’s work “Daring to Lead”, which is a New York Times bestseller, and research on trauma informed schools, especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic were presented by Dr. Yvonne R. Pangelinan, Dr. Jennifer Furey Maratita, Laura Kyonka and Josiah Kyonka.

Dr. Pangelinan is the senior director for PSS’ Student and Support Services, both Laura and Josiah Kyonka are both mental health specialists, and Dr. Maratita is a licensed mental health counselor providing support services to PSS stakeholders.

Associate Commissioner for Administrative Service Kimo Rosario delivered the closing remarks.

“Despite two back-to-back deficits, crisis caused by two disasters, and now the COVID-19 pandemic, you – our PSS leaders – are still here. Yes, you educators are passionate to serve and this is why you are still here. You have led PSS remarkably,” Rosario said in his closing remarks, which was his last public engagement as an employee of the Public School System

On Friday, Rosario capped his tenure as a PSS employee.

The day-long PSS Virtual Leadership Institute was moderated by Dr. Bobby Cruz and Lorraine Catienza. Principal Jonathan Aguon and Le’ah Murphy were the official hosts for the virtual training. (PSS)

Press Release
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