Commissioner of Economic Affairs Maria Buncamper-Molanus, assisted by Veronica Jansen-Webster and Arturo Lugisse, met with Mervin J. Henderson, PH.D. – Associate Superintendent of Schools and Maggie B. Lewis-Butler – School Board Member, District 3 Leon County Florida.
The meeting was initiated by Commissioner of Tallahassee Bill Proctor with the objective to further develop the sister city agreement between St. Maarten and Tallahassee in the area of education while incorporating an economic component beneficial to St. Maarten.
As suggested by Commissioner Bill Proctor during this meeting the possibility was explored for Leon County high school students who take French classes to visit St. Maarten as part of their curriculum and as a result earn credits. The visit to St. Maarten/St. Martin would expose the students to the daily use of the French language, and culture while at the same time making a contribution to St. Maarten’s economy, thus giving true meaning to diversification within the tourism sector.
This program also establishes the development of education as a diversified economic sector, which was identified in 2005 in the "St. Maarten Diversification Study" one of seven areas such as the Marine Trade sector and International Financial Sector.
The sister city relationship with Tallahassee will by means of this program also bring about cooperation between St. Maarten and St. Martin as the involvement of the French side will be necessary to make this a reality.
The sister city agreement St. Maarten-Tallahassee is based on reciprocity and so the opportunities for enrolling talented St. Maarten students, outside of the regular study financing program is also under consideration. We have recognized that St. Maarten has many young athletes and musicians who under normal circumstances, for reasons such as academic challenges, are not getting the opportunity to develop their talent and as a result never have the opportunity to fully develop their potential.
Commissioner Bill Proctor who is a strong advocate of this innovative idea of educational development and economic opportunities, is expected in St. Maarten in April during which time the agreement is expected to be formalized.
"I am pleased with the progress we have made last week. The agreement was relatively unknown to me, while indeed being aware of the educational benefits we as St.Maarten continue to derive from the sister city agreement on one hand the economical benefit to Tallahassee on the other hand.
The many other opportunities, as outlined in this agreement and thus at our disposal, will certainly continue to be explored, bearing in mind that during these economically challenging times, we must be ready to discover new options and think outside of the box": concludes Commissioner Maria Buncamper-Molanus.