CNMI Public School System Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan was the 2016 recipient of the Peter Brice Award given in last Thursday night’s banquet, the closing of the 40th Annual Pacific Circle Consortium at the Hibiscus Hall of the Fiesta Resort & Spa-Saipan.
The Peter Brice Award is given to the top educator in the Pacific region in honor of New Zealand’s late Minister of Education, who is best remembered for his “wisdom, humanity, and lifelong commitment to educational ideals.”
Sablan, in her appreciation speech, said that being nominated and selected is an honor for her, adding that the award belongs to everyone who attended PCC’s five-day gathering of the region’s top educators.
“[It is] to all of our educators from all sectors for the work that they’ve done for our children and to all stakeholders that help us along the way to avail quality public education to all children.”
She said that as educators they must change and challenge the status quo so their work will be elevated, systematic, and for all.
“No one should fear change and that we must do all that we can to challenge the status quo if it is no longer efficient, no longer effective, and does nothing but sits there like it is nobody’s business.”
Sablan said the theme chosen by Saipan Southern High School’s recent graduating class taught her an important lesson. “The potential within us is greater than the obstacles around us” is the theme of the class composed of 124 students who graduated last month.
“I thought this was very powerful coming from the minds of young adolescents. But this is about who we are. We are about building and making change in the lives of children. We are about nurturing and guiding our children to have their greatest potential that they can ever be.”
“If our young children can envision that their potential is greater than the challenges around them, then let us believe in them and what they have told us. Make those potentials alive and greater,” said Sablan, who added potential must be greater on the hindrances we face.
“The potential of being a great farmer should be greater than the obstacle of climate change; the potential to be a teacher should be greater than the obstacle of mandates; the potential to be a great engineer should be greater than the obstacle of our environment.”
She said as educators, they should help all students realize their every potential. “Every student has a potential and we must nurture, guide, and build upon their potential to be greater than the impediments that is around them.”
Legendary master navigator Pius Mau Piailug was also given a posthumous award for his contribution in keeping alive and promotion of the traditional way of seafaring. His son, Sesario Sewralur, and the crew of the Alingano Maisu made a brief stop on Saipan last May on their way to the 12th Festival of the Pacific Arts in Guam.
Brice was New Zealand’s representative in the annual conference, which started in 1977 to establish cooperation among educational research and development institutions in the Pacific Region. When he died, Brice’s wife and PCC developed an award to honor top educators.
This was the first time the CNMI hosted the annual conference. Japan had hosted the PCC six times with Hiroshima City, where the 2017 conference is set, holding it five times.