Dream realized for USM Education Program graduate Jaya Nair

Dreams and desires sometimes have an odd way of guiding us in our destined path. Along our journey to that destination, we meet new people and also friends and our worlds intertwine. For India native Jaya Nair, this is the case. 

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Jaya is one of nine education program students who will be graduating from the University of St. Martin on Saturday at the 16th Commencement Exercise at the Westin Hotel. The event gets underway at 7pm.

For Jaya it all began in 2005 when she migrated from India to St. Maarten to attend the University of St. Martin. With her parents living on St. Maarten for some time, Jaya wanted to follow her father’s footsteps in the family business. Consequently, she started in the business program at USM.

She says her parents had looked into USM prior to her enrolling and the interesting aspect that they found was all the affiliations, with other colleges and universities that USM has. She says that the program conducted through teleconferencing with Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) was very interesting.

With a witty and contented smile, Jaya states, however, that after a semester she soon realized that business studies were not for her. She adds that she always wanted to be a teacher since her mother, grandmother, and aunt were all teachers. So, it was natural to transfer into the Education program at USM.

Jaya notes that in terms of her teaching philosophy, she believes that "Children are like small shrubs that are born under the shelter of a tree. It’s the duty of the tree to protect and help them to nurture. Later, these shrubs must be transplanted to a place where they can safely mature and become independent". She credits the Philosophy of Education class with Dr. Alison Howard for helping her come to this realization.

A smiling Jaya, says that lots of group work brought her and many of her classmates closer. She mentions friends like Lenworth Wilson, Shirmel Dickenson, Leandra Edwards, and Mrs. Mary Magdalene Bary …all USM Education program graduates.

She adds that often they spent odd hours in the computer lab working on many projects and since many of them were also working jobs, they all understood each other. These work group encounters, for Jaya, were only the beginning.

"(The class atmosphere at USM) promotes individuality and freedom to express your views and opinions regardless of who you are," says the education program graduate, while noting that being on St. Maarten and interacting with and watching the different cultural groups on the island is a lesson by itself.

Some of her favorite activities at USM included the First Tuesday, where students assemble and celebrate every first Tuesday of the month, and Red and White Valentine’s Day Party organized by the Student Government Association. She says her friends were surprised when attended the Valentine’s Party since she always promised to attend certain events but never did. She adds that the dancing and being with friends was really fun.

Jaya ended up doing her student teaching at St. Dominic Elementary School where Bibi Hussain and Estella Matinburgh were her mentors. According to Jaya, these two teachers are the embodiment of what teachers should be and she really thanks them for being her mentors.

"They really defined how a true teacher should be," says Jaya, who was surprised when she learned that Matinburgh graduated from USM education program in 2007. Her encounter with USM alumni did not stop there. After her student teaching, Jaya ended up substituting for another USM education program graduate and St. Dominic teacher, Melisa Labasti, who also graduated in 2007.

"If you really love the profession, it is for you," says Nair. She adds that if someone wants to go into teaching only for the days off, long summer vacations and finishing work by 2pm daily, it is not for them,

"It’s not a piece of cake," she adds, while stressing, that a teacher must be patient and dedicated since some children take longer to understand concepts. Measurement and Evaluation was one of her favorite education classes at USM.

Jaya, a former USM Ambassador, smiles when asked what she will be doing coming August 2010 and answers that she will be teaching at the St. Joseph School.

"I am really excited. It is the oldest school on the island and part of the island’s heritage," she adds.

Coincidentally, Jaya’s encounter with fellow USM alumni also continues at St. Joseph School. She says that most likely she will be taking over the K1 class of teacher Darleen Richards. Richards also graduated from USM’s education program two years ago.

Jaya laughs as she speaks fondly about Darleen and how meticulous she is with her teaching and instructional materials for K1. "Darleen will never change," Jaya says with a smile, while reflecting on their days at USM.

Currently the education graduate is looking into obtaining an accredited online university to acquire her Master degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

USM wishes Jaya Nair much success in her future endeavors.