Education

ATCU and Faith and Science

Faith and Science

ATCU K-12 schools strategize to function as a school system rather than a system of schools

ATCU K-12 schools strategize to function as a school system rather than a system of schools
ATCU Communication Department

On January 17, 2016, the education department of the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU), headed by Dr. Cheryl Rolle, welcomed members of the Bainum Family Foundation, a Seventh-day Adventist Initiative located in Silver Springs, Maryland, to the union territory to conduct an assessment of its schools in The Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and at a later date, the Cayman Islands.

“While the Adventist church does have an evaluation process in place for its schools that is implemented systematically by the union, it does not mean that other independent educational agencies cannot be used to help us realize our goals.  Recognizing that there is always room for improvement, we have taken this proactive approach of identifying our strengths and weaknesses, particularly in the areas of leadership and governance, academics and instruction, and finance in order to develop strategies that will make us an excellent school system rather than a system of schools,” said Dr. Rolle.

Mr. David Daniels, senior director of the Bainum Family Foundation and leader of the audit team commended the ATCU’s education department for its proactive approach in addressing the issues in the schools within the union. “I have been accustomed to being called when things are bad,” said Daniels. “But, here at ATCU, we’ve come to help bring the schools from good to great as it were.”
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Several weeks prior to the visit, students, teachers, and parents from Bahamas Academy in Nassau, Bahamas; Grand Bahama Academy in Grand Bahama, The Bahamas; and Maranatha Academy in the Turks and Caicos Islands, completed surveys in preparation for the audit.  The professional team also reviewed school documents such as external exam results for over a five-year period.

When asked about his initial assessment, Daniels said that he was extremely impressed with how excited the students were to learn. He stated that the schools within ATCU had great potential for being model schools not only within the Adventist school system, but also for the government school system.

Daniels and his team members, Amy Soper, Marcus Gray, and Ginger Slaughter, during their weeklong assessment, interviewed representative stakeholders of the schools, met with students, teachers, and administrators, and conducted classroom observations. On Thursday, January 21, they presented an initial report of their findings to Dr. Rolle and the education directors from the fields: Mrs. Lynn Smith from the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission; Mrs. Joan Scavella from the South Bahamas Conference; and Mrs. Desiree Forbes from the North Bahamas Conference. Within three weeks, a more detailed report will be submitted to Dr. Rolle to be shared with the stakeholders.
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Dr. Rolle said that she was grateful for the assistance from Mr. Daniels and his team who volunteered to assist on their own time, as the foundation works with faith-based schools in the United States only. 

“The wonderful thing is that Mr. Daniels and his team will continue to work with us as we implement the recommendations.  So, we look forward to this working relationship and their support as we forge ahead to ensure that all schools in the union are schools of excellence, speaking the same language as it relates to the delivery of quality Seventh-day Adventist education.”

Stakeholders were excited about  the process and have committed to supporting the endeavor and initiatives.

“This process gets us excited because I expect positive developments in our school as a result of the audit,” stated a local church elder and former parent of Bahamas Academy.

The Bainum Family Foundation supports educational programs and projects assisting underserved children and youth as well as Seventh-day Adventist primary and secondary schools. To meet this mission, the Foundation develops programs that build instructional and organizational capacity in schools to ensure that both students and schools reach their full potential for success

The goal of the four schools within ATCU is to provide a balanced spiritual, mental, physical, social, and vocational education in harmony with Seventh-day Adventist standards and ideals that will prepare children and young people to be productive citizens in their communities and heaven.







ATCU Participates in Second IAD Virtual Education Congress

ATCU Participates in Second IAD Virtual Education Congress
Communication Department, ATCU

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During the weekend of March 27-29, 2015, a delegation of five from the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) were present at the streaming site for the Second Virtual Education Congress hosted by the education department of the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (IAD). Leading the delegation was Dr. Leonard Johnson, president of ATCU. Elder Roderick Sands, union treasurer; Alree Price, Bahamas Academy, South Bahamas Conference; Avoney Wellington, Grand Bahama Academy, North Bahamas Conference; and Alicia Castillo-Timothy, Cayman Academy, Cayman Islands Conference accompanied him. Also in attendance was Denise Johnson, guidance counselor of Bahamas Academy.

Focusing on the future of Adventist Education in the territory of Inter-America, the congress employed as its theme "Adventist Education: Shaping The Future of The Church.” Accordingly, union after union presented the education challenges facing its respective field and presented the strategies to address them in an effort to safeguard the future of Adventist education.

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Among the projections presented by ATCU were:
  • Inspiring a stronger spiritual relationship with Christ among teachers and administrators
  • Greater involvement of constituents, especially pastors
  • Securing and Providing Adequate Funding
  • Improved and adequate physical plant

Main presenter for the congress was Pastor Shane Anderson, author of the famous book How to Kill Adventist Education (and How to Give It a Fighting Chance!). Other presenters included Dr. Israel Leito, president of IAD; Dr. Filiberto Verduzco, treasurer of IAD; Dr. Gamaliel Florez, education director of IAD; and Dr. Faye Patterson, associate education director of IAD.

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The weekend’s activities were well received by ATCU participants who felt inspired by the event.

"I'm more motivated to teach what I represent - true Adventist education whatever the cost,” said Alree Price.

Avoney Wellington declared, "Awesome! I’m impressed and encouraged to learn that our situation is not unique to what is happening in IAD."

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And Alicia Castillo-Timothy concluded, "It was a very informative and motivating experience, as many pertinent issues regarding Adventist education were raised and, thankfully, various solutions were offered in order to transform the system to ensure that God is manifested at the center."

Arson Feared, Entire School Could Have Burned Down Says Official

By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

THE Grand Bahama Academy was closed for some 250 students after a fire yesterday morning damaged some of the classrooms, the kitchen and the cafeteria.
Police said the cause of the fire is unknown, but some suspect it might have been a case of arson. An official said there was also a break-in and theft at the school.
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Haydn Hanna, the school’s business manager, told The Tribune that “it was a miracle” the entire school did not burn down. He said the fire started in the kitchen, where there was extensive damage.
Mr Hanna reported that cases of drinks were stolen from a storage room.
“The door to the cafeteria was kicked in and the place was broken into and 30 cases of drinks were stolen from the storage room, where we kept a large shipment of items worth over $4,000, and the culprits lit the fire in there. It is a miracle the whole school did not burn down,” he said.
Police received the fire report around 7:30am. Inspector Terecita Pinder reported that when firemen arrived at the scene they saw fire and smoke damage to several rooms.
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She said the damage was estimated at about $80,000.
“The cause of the fire is unknown at this time and police are actively investigating this matter,” she said.
Mr Hanna said the school’s cook was the first at the scene and notified officials.
“The kitchen was completely destroyed, but there was only minor damage to three classrooms,” Mr Hanna said.
“It seems that the fire had burned through a water pipe running overhead into the cafeteria and the water in the pipe came gushing down and extinguished the fire,” he said.
“We had no school today (Tuesday) because of the fire, but we hope to get the repairs to those classrooms and to the exterior done as soon as possible, and so we have suspended school for the rest of the week,” he said.
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The school, which is located in the Grasmere Subdivision, will remain closed for a week until repairs are completed to the three classrooms, which were damaged by smoke.
He said that repairs to the kitchen are not expected to be completed when school reopens on Monday.

New Principal Appointed at Grand Bahama Academy

New Principal Appointed at Grand Bahama Academy
photo- Ruth Rolle
When Grand Bahama Academy opened its doors to the new school year on September 1, 2014, it began with a new principal at its helm. Mrs. Ruth Rolle, a veteran educator with over 40 years experience, will provide leadership to the more than 250 students and 25 staff members of the 31-year old institution. Grand Bahama Academy, located in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, is one of the four schools within the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU). It is owned and operated by the North Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Recently, Mrs. Rolle along with other educators from ATCU attended the second
teachers’ congress sponsored by the education department of the Inter-American Division (IAD). The four-day event, which was held in Riviera Maya, Mexico, brought together over one thousand participants which included university presidents, union and local field presidents, education directors, principals, and selected teachers from across the IAD.
During the meetings, Libna Stevens, associate communication director of IAD, interviewed Mrs. Rolle. In the interview, Mrs. Rolle affirmed her commitment for teaching and her philosophy of education.
Below is an excerpt of the interview as recorded by Libna Stevens of IAD:
For Ruth Rolle of Grand Bahama, Bahamas, teaching has been a passion for more than 40 years. She’s taught first grade at Grand Bahama Academy, a K-12 grade Adventist school, for decades and just recently was appointed as the principal of the school.
Out of all her years as a teacher, she taught three years for the Bahamas government, and has always had the mission and vision of Adventist education clear in her mind.
“Teaching is such an awesome responsibility because we are training kids and preparing them for eternity,” said Rolle.
Rolle saw the school being built some 30 years ago and smiles as she recalls the hundreds of children whom she taught. The school, she said, has some 250 students and two-thirds are non-Seventh-day Adventists. She has seen many children come through the school who have questions about God, and knows how important her role as a minister of
the gospel is in the classroom. Rolle sees the challenge of retaking the vision of Adventist education for teachers who have been educating in the Adventist school system and the new teachers who join and may not realize how crucial understanding that vision and mission of Adventist education is.








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Adventist Teachers Called to Be Ministers

Adventist Teachers Called to Be Ministers


The second Teachers’ Congress sponsored by the Education Department of the Inter-American Division took place from September 10 – 13, 2014, in Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico.  Over six hundred university presidents, union and local field presidents, education directors, principals, and selected teachers from the English, Spanish and French-speaking regions of the Division were in attendance.
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“The Teacher As A Minister of the Gospel” was the theme chosen for the congress, and every worship and workshop session spoke to the relevancy of this theme.  Special guest speakers included Dr. George Knight, retired SDA educator, administrator, and writer, who challenged the educators to look at Adventist education in light of the apocalyptic vision outlined in Revelation 14.  He reminded everyone that as educators, we must give hope to our students through our apocalyptic mission.  An amazing lover of Adventist history, Knight paralleled the historic growth of Adventist missions to the growth of Adventist schools.  He reiterated that the purpose of Adventist education is three-fold:

  • To prepare students for this life;
  • To introduce students to Christ;
  • To inspire the coming generation with an understanding of prophecy, giving them hope for an eternal future.

Another well-known presenter was Dr. Lowell Cooper.  Cooper, a general vice-president of the General Conference also serves as chairman for the boards at Loma Linda University Adventist Health Science Center and Adventist Health International.  Dr. Cooper challenged his listeners to think seriously about the church’s responsibility to its educational system when he stated that the church needs to see the institution as an extension of the church and that our schools are not just employment agencies.  His inspiring sermon on Sabbath further challenged the educators to look at their work as a calling from God.  He said “God doesn’t call people to positions or careers until he calls them to Himself. When you sense your calling from God, He puts you on pathways you will not understand.”
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Also in attendance was Dr. Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, the Director of Education at the General Conference of S.D.A.  Dr. Beardsley-Hardy addressed the topic “SDA Education as an Evangelistic Strategy”.  In her remarks, she stated that the Bible should be the center of all curricula and that the core features of Adventist education should be:
1.Redemptive in its purpose
2.Balanced, and a holistic development
3.Restoring the image of God in students
  • Developing in students the ability to think and do
  • Preparing students for service in this life

The list of presenters at this historical congress showcased some of the best names in the church’s organizational and educational system: Dr. Ella Simmons, General Vice-President of the General Conference; Dr. Myrna Colon, Vice President for Academic Affairs of the Antillean Adventist University in Puerto Rico; Dr. Myrna Costa, Vice-President of the Inter-American Division; Dr. Mike Lekic, Associate Education Director of the General Conference; Susana Schulz, Assistant Editor of Dialogue University magazine at the General Conference; Dr. Luis Schulz, Associate Director of Education at the General Conference; Dr. John Wesley Taylor, Associate Director of Education at the General Conference; Dr. Dan Tucker, Marketing Consultant; and Dr. Filiberto Verduzco, Treasurer of the Inter-American Division.
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Interspersed through the daily activities were inspiring devotionals and heavenly music.  The catchy and rhythmic theme song, written especially for the congress, reminded us daily of the special mission of Adventist teachers in our schools.  Everyone left this conclave with a renewed sense of purpose to fulfill the mission for which Adventist schools were established.  Organizing and coordinating this five-year event were Dr. Gamaliel Florez, Director of Education for the Inter-American Division, and Dr. Faye Patterson, Associate Director of Education for the Inter-American Division. We look forward with anticipation to the next Teachers’ Congress!
By: Lynn C. Smith, Education Director, TCIM

BAHAMAS ACADEMY CELEBRATES EXCELLENCE

BAHAMAS ACADEMY CELEBRATES EXCELLENCE Office of Education, South Bahamas Conference

The school year, 2013 - 2014 brought some victorious moments for Bahamas Academy. Among them were the results for the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) and the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) external examinations. We celebrate our students’ performance in both examinations.

The BJC results reflect the following top achievers: Ashton Alcime with 2A’s, 4B’s, and 1C. Noel Mark with 2A’s, 3B’s, and 2C’s; Joel Kemp with 4A’s, and 3C’s; and Breann Rahming with 5A’s.

In the BGCSE category are Raven Hanna with 3A’s, 4B’s, and 1C; Catrea Conyers with 2A’s, 4B’s, and 1C; and Jevon Thomas with 2A’s, 2B’s and 3C’s.

Many of our students leave Bahamas Academy with passes in eight or more BGCSE’s having had the opportunity to sit them in Grades 11 and 12.

Special thanks to our dedicated teachers and parents for the discipline they have instilled in our students. The results were achieved from the long and arduous efforts of the home, school, and church.

With the theme, “Reaching New Heights with Christ,” we stand on the threshold of a new school year. Our prayer is that all church members will partner with us in supporting the mission of training head, hands, and heart. There will be new hurdles to cross, but we are confident in the Master Teacher who is able to take us through each challenge and transform them into awesome opportunities for powerful witness.

We thank you for your contributions over the years and request your continued partnership. Pray constantly for the success of our school, because together we can achieve more.

As our school reaches new heights with Christ in 2014-2015, you must be a part of the exciting journey.

Higher Education – A Student’s Perspective

Higher Education – A Student’s Perspective
Teoria Murray, 2nd-year medical student at UWI
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“Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve”- this phrase, the motto of Oakwood University, played over and over in my head the summer after my graduation. As the words tumbled in my mind, I examined them to see how they had played out during my four-year stay.
I entered Oakwood in 2008, young and eager, uncertain of where this path would take me. When my parents left me at orientation, I tried to convince myself that I would be okay. I prayed that I would make friends, adjust to my newfound independence and increased workload, and have some fun along the way. I could never have predicted the journey God would take me through.
Being an Adventist institution, God’s presence was invited into each class with prayer and the spiritual aspect was considered in all things. Once a week, the whole school would gather in the campus church to worship and testify. My major was Biochemistry, and I was excited to see God as the author of science. The professors spoke from the heart, pushed us to excel, and presented lots of opportunities for us to learn from the students who came before us. Students were motivated to take part in research and represented the school and the Lord well at national and international levels. Above all this, we were encouraged to serve others. There were many ministries - choirs, drama groups, and the orchestra among them.
Early in my Oakwood experience, I joined the mission group NAPS - the National Association for the Prevention of Starvation. This was where my Christian experience came to life. I learnt to give Bible studies to children, then to their families. We travelled around the United States doing colporteur work, raising money for overseas missions, and ministering to young people at schools, detention centres, and churches. I was given the opportunity to go on mission trips to rural villages in Mozambique and Guyana. At the end of it all, I felt called to take a year off from school as a full-time missionary and God blessed my efforts. Beyond a substantial education in the sciences, I gained lifelong friends, a heart of compassion for others, and an understanding of my duty to the world as a Christian.
The next year ushered in new circumstances - a much esteemed public university. The University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica was a whole new world for me. The campus boasted a student population of more than 15,000 (more than 6 times that of Oakwood), and it wasn’t long before I encountered the melting pot of world views and beliefs. There were scholarly Christians of all denominations, Muslims, Rastafarians, Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists, and everything in between. The medical faculty was a mixture of those who scoffed at religion and those who believed, but found it irrelevant to science.
I looked hard for wholesome activities in the midst of frequent parties raging outside my window. My beliefs were challenged and scrutinized, and for a while I struggled with a feeling of isolation. Thankfully, God showed me how to use the uniqueness of the Adventist faith as a ministry. I committed to study my beliefs more carefully and to share them with others as the opportunity arose. On Sabbaths, I answered questions my peers had about my “weekly holiday.” They wanted to know why I didn’t drink alcohol when we celebrated and why I didn’t eat certain things. Every question was an open door for witnessing. I showed kindness to overworked faculty members. I learned to befriend people very different from me and to see life from their perspective. UWI has a firm foundation of humanitarian work, so my friends and I took part in several outreach efforts. Day by day, the school I saw as a mountain of opposition became a stepping stone to a closer walk with God.
To all the students who will be attending Adventist colleges or universities this year, take advantage of the amazing opportunities you will have to understand your faith for yourself, to share the gospel, and to make friends who will support you in your Christian journey. These schools were planted by God Himself to advance His work by preparing young men and women to represent Him as professionals.
To those who will be attending public or private non-Adventist colleges or universities, do not be intimidated by conflict or disheartened by resistance to your faith. Instead, cling to God and you will discover unlimited spiritual power to meet every challenge in His strength. God has promised that He “is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). He has also directed us, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). See how much worth God places on us and what a high standard we are to reach!
I believe God has called me to be a medical missionary. Whatever passion He has placed in your heart to pursue as a career, know that it is not your ultimate purpose, but a means to an end. The purpose of your whole educational journey is to prepare you for Christ’s second coming and to win souls for His kingdom. “Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiselled into stone, but carved into human lives...” (2 Corinthians 3:3, Message Bible).

ATCU Educators Participate in IAD's First Virtual Education Congress

ATCU Educators Participate in IAD's First Virtual Education Congress
Communication Department, ATCU

On Sabbath, November 12, 2013, approximately 80 educators from throughout the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) met in their respective fields to be a part of the Inter-American Division’s (IAD) first virtual education congress. The event was streamed live across the division's territory from the headquarters of the IAD in Miami, Florida. According to information from the organizers of the congress, which can be found on the IAD’s website at www.interamerica.org, more than 120 educators from the 22 unions in IAD attended the live event at the division’s headquarters with thousands more from around Inter-America viewing by internet.

In New Providence, teachers and administrators from Bahamas Academy, one of the four schools within the union, worshipped at the union's headquarters on Gladstone Road. Dr. Cheryl Rolle, education director for ATCU, brought brief remarks, explaining that the congress was organized to achieve three main objectives: (1) To strengthen commitment to God; (2) To strengthen commitment to the church; and (3) To strengthen the personal commitment of the educators and leaders of the educational system in the IAD territory. The activities and presentations affirmed that the mission of the educational system of the Seventh-day Adventist Church was to see the children and youth of the church saved in Christ’s kingdom. Presenters included Dr. Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, education director of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC); Dr. Gamaliel Florez, education director of IAD; and Pastor Samuel Telemaque, director of the Office of Adventist Mission and associate Sabbath School and personal ministries director of the IAD.


In Freeport, Grand Bahama, teachers from Grand Bahama Academy viewed the congress at the North Bahamas Conference office. In the Cayman Islands, Pastor Ivor Harry, education director for the conference, reports that on the Friday evening before the Sabbath morning service, 25 teachers from Cayman Academy participated in a communion service and love feast. Then, on Sabbath morning, they assembled at the school's auditorium to be a part of the virtual congress.

Representing the Atlantic Caribbean Union at the site of the live event in Miami, Florida were Rowena Smith from Bahamas Academy, Mr. Henry Morgan from Grand Bahama Academy, and Mrs. Asha Singh from Cayman Academy. DSC_9146DSC_9148DSC_9151DSC_9152DSC_9155
Photos by John Garcia

NCU Celebrates Its Graduates, Year of the Laity

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By: Andrew Burrows, Communication Director, ATCU


Under the theme Onward, Upward, and Beyond, the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) held its annual graduation exercises at the University’s Gymnatorium in Mandeville, Jamaica during the weekend of August 9-11, 2013.

In his address at both commencement services on Sunday, August 10, Dr. Trevor Gardner, president of NCU, announced that in an effort to ease the financial sacrifice, the administration decided to freeze tuition increase for the 2013/2014 academic year.

"There will be further student payment options with a view to making fewer increases for the duration of studies across the disciplines," Dr. Gardner said.

During his remarks, Dr. Leonard A. Johnson, president of Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) and vice chairman of the university board, challenged the graduands to hold themselves to the high standards and values they had been taught at NCU.

“Do not short change or sell yourself for monetary gain or position, status or fame, for the stories of Joseph and Daniel teach us that all of these could be gotten by faithfulness to God, His church, and His word.”

Dr. Johnson also commended Dr. Trevor Gardner for the numerous times he has sought to identify with the various initiatives and meetings of ATCU, given that NCU is owned and operated by two entities, the Jamaica Union (JAMU) and ATCU.
“This is healthy as it underscores that NCU is jointly owned by JAMU and ATCU,” Dr. Johnson said.

In addition to the 1,058 students who received certifications, including bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees, three persons received honorary doctorate degrees.

The Honourable Oliver Clarke, chairman of the Gleaner Company Limited and the speaker for the first commencement service, received the Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree. Elder George W. Brown and Pastor Wilton McDonald were both conferred the Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree. Elder George W. Brown, a former president of the Inter-American Division, was the speaker for the second commencement ceremony. Pastor Wilton McDonald, who currently serves as a district pastor, ministerial secretary, and publishing director for the Cayman Islands Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, has devoted more than 41 years of service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, mostly in the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands.

Also at the ceremony and in celebration of 2013 as the Year of Laity in the Inter-American Division, eight lay people from both the Atlantic Caribbean Union and the Jamaica Union received special awards for their contribution in evangelism. Among them were David Campbell from the Cayman Islands Conference, Vernal Rolle from the South Bahamas Conference, and Osaias Joseph from the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission.

Felcia Datus of the South Bahamas Conference, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Primary Teacher Education, shared her testimony during the Sabbath afternoon service.

"I wouldn't change my experience at NCU for anything in the world. There are not many universities where friends would gather around you to pray when you are at a low point. To leave university with a degree but no knowledge of Christ is vain. NCU gave me both, Christ and a degree."

According to the university’s website, NCU currently has an enrollment of over 5000 students from 34 countries including the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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ATCU Holds First Teachers' Convention

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Article By: Marie Church-Smith, Bahamas Academy

The much anticipated four-day Atlantic Caribbean Union Teachers’ Convention became a reality on July 14, 2013, when all roads led to the Sheraton Miami Airport Hotel and Executive Meeting Center, Miami, Florida. It was the first of its kind for this brand new territory of the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. However, under the astute leadership of Dr. Cheryl Rolle, education director of the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU), the planning and execution of the convention’s activities were said to be on the same level of those of our world church General Conference sessions.

Under the theme “A Teacher After God’s Own Heart,” the four days gave educators from the Cayman Islands Conference, the North Bahamas Conference, the South Bahamas Conference, and the Turks and Caicos Islands Mission, an opportunity to sharpen their skills as they sat at the feet of guest speakers and presenters who shared their expertise with us so that the work we do for the Master Teacher would be of extraordinary quality. It was an exercise that allowed us not just to grow professionally, but also to enhance our relationship with God.

The opening session began promptly with much pomp and circumstance. Excitement was generated as faculty members with their respective education directors and school administrators participated in the Parade of Institutions. Bedecked in their respective colors and toting individual school banners, we knew and felt that this was going to be an unforgettable experience.

Dr. Gamaliel Flórez, education director of the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (IAD), gave the keynote address. A consummate storyteller, he used the simple, yet profound story of the feeding of the five thousand by Jesus to remind us that teachers are the most important instruments God has for His church. He drove home the point that one of God’s hands is Seventh-day Adventist education and that by ourselves we are nothing, but in God’s hands, teachers make the difference in a child’s life. We are the fingers of God’s hands, taking the children in our care to the kingdom of eternal life.

This delightful and inspirational presentation was punctuated with welcome and greetings from Dr. Cheryl Rolle and Dr. Leonard Johnson, president of ATCU. Other participants of the opening ceremony included Pastor Peter Kerr, executive secretary of ATCU, Elder Roderick Sands, treasurer of ATCU, and Dr. Faye Patterson, associate education director of the IAD.

Days two and three were replete with intensive breakout sessions where faculty members attended seminars of their choice. These sessions sensitized us in areas of Bible textbook training, using media, teaching special-needs learners, effective classroom management strategies, the characteristics of a professional Adventist teacher, dealing with mental illness in the classroom, integration of faith and learning, how to engage pastors with our schools, how to increase financial giving to our schools, dealing with bullying, teaching critical literacy skills, and identifying the key ingredients of a thriving Seventh-day Adventist school.

Special thanks to the presenters: Cheryl Alonzo, Pastor Shane Anderson, Kathiann Antonio, Courtney Brown, Luis Cortes, David Daniels, Trevor Gardner, Jacqueline HoShing-Clarke, Raquel Korniejczuk, Pastor L. A. Johnson, Lorna Leon, Marleen Martinborough, Faye Patterson, Jicell Taylor, and Pastor Samuel Telemaque.

Regardless of the sessions we attended, the common thread that bound us together can be best described by the words of our devotional speaker, Mr. David Daniels, “God has chosen us to do a great work. As educators we are doing a great work because of whom we serve – God. We are to serve the students in our care because we might be the only Christ they see.”

Our final speaker was the illustrious president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union, Dr. L. A. Johnson. His remarks were quite apropos as he reminded us that Seventh-day Adventist education is not an option, it is a must. It is to lead students to experience redemption in God. His presentation was encapsulated in three main points. We are to understand Adventist education – it is to restore mankind to His Creator; we are to embrace Adventist education – as we are valuable, we carry tremendous influence; and we must maintain Adventist education – our schools are to be the best, and so reviewing our vision statement constantly will aid in propelling us to fulfill our purpose for existence.

It was not all business. We took time out to fellowship, go shopping, and take in the sights and scenes of the delectable city of Miami.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013, caused a stir of mixed emotions. We were saddened to be leaving the fellowship and rapport we developed with each other, but we were revitalized and eager to return to our various fields empowered with the tools to make a difference in a child’s life; committed to the task of moving our students from earthly principles to heavenly principles which leads to eternal life.

There is no doubt in our minds that we will be waiting with eager anticipation for the next quinquennium when we will meet to share in a wonderful experience again. We say a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Cheryl Rolle and the education directors of the various fields who were members of the planning committee. May God bless you as you give of your best to the Master Teacher.

Grand Bahama Academy Celebrates With Graduates

By: Avoney Wellington, Grand Bahama Academy

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Grand Bahama Academy held its annual Grade 6 promotional ceremony on Thursday, June 6, 2013, under the theme “Changing Today to Inspire Tomorrow.” Held at the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church, the event was attended by the administrators of the North Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, pastors, and education director, Mrs. Desiree Rolle-Forbes who gave brief remarks.

The guest speaker for the occasion was veteran journalist and former news anchor of the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas, Mrs. Pakesia Edgecombe, who motivated the graduates to make positive choices as they aspire to be the change agents for tomorrow. She encouraged the students to continue to excel as they contemplate the start of their high school journey. Mrs. Edgecombe also reminded the parents of their responsibilities in helping to guide their children as they continue on the path to success.

The class valedictorian, BoJames VanPopering, gave an inspiring speech as he reminded his classmates that the education they received will eventually create opportunities for tomorrow. He admonished his classmates to never give up on their dreams and reminded them of the promise found in Jeremiah 29: 11 which says that God has a plan for their lives, plans that will prosper them and give them a future.
Arianna Bastian, class salutatorian, did an awesome job in thanking the teachers and parents for guiding them throughout their primary school journey. The nineteen graduates were presented with numerous awards and certificates.

On Sabbath, June 8, 2013, the secondary division of Grand Bahama Academy held its baccalaureate service at the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church. The guest speaker was Pastor Peter Kerr, executive secretary of the Atlantic Caribbean Union. The theme chosen for this senior class event was “With Our Feet on the Ground, We Reach for the Stars.” Pastor Kerr challenged the graduates to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground as they reach for loftier heights.

The climax of the high school’s celebrations was the fifth annual graduation ceremony held at Our Lucaya Convention Center. Guest speaker, Senator Tanisha Tynes, encouraged graduates to keep pressing forward as they enter another chapter of their lives. She related the stories of Ben Carson and Prime Minister Perry Christie who, despite being faced with challenges in their early lives, overcame them and became great leaders in their fields.

The class valedictorian, Hilniqua Gibson, and salutatorian, Shelleta Ferguson, both gave glowing speeches and tributes respectively. The highlight of this ceremony came when the seventeen graduates walked across the stage to collect their diplomas and trophy awards. The valedictorian and student of the year, Hilniqua Gibson, walked away with the majority of the subject awards. We also salute Shelleta Ferguson, who graduated with a 4.0 GPA, for her valiant effort.

We commend all the teachers for a job well done and heartily congratulate all the graduates for achieving this educational milestone. We wish them continued success as they make their transition to high school and college. For those students whose journey will take them to different places of work, we pray that God will use them in a mighty way and that they will continue to keep the flames of Grand Bahama Academy burning brightly.

Twenty Students Baptized at B.A.

During the fall weeks of prayer at the elementary and secondary divisions of Bahamas Academy (BA), twenty students responded to a call to surrender to the saving power of Jesus Christ.

Pastor D. Richard Henderson, assistant pastor of the Grants Town Seventh-day Adventist Church, conducted the services at the elementary division while Natalie Roberts, school chaplain, conducted those at the secondary division.

Subsequently, ten elementary students and ten secondary students, upon completing Bible classes to deepen their understanding of the Bible and the will of God in their lives, did not hesitate to follow the Lord all the way in baptism on Friday, May 17, 2013. With smiles on their faces and cameras in their hands, parents came to the Berea Seventh-day Adventist Church to witness this most important milestone in their children’s spiritual growth.

Pastor Paul Scavella, president of the South Bahamas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (SBC) and Bahamas Academy school board chairman; Mrs. Joan Scavella, education director of SBC; Mrs. Elmore Jacques, vice principal of the elementary division; and a representation from the faculty and staff of BA all shared in the moment.

Pastor Scavella encouraged the students to pray and ask God for strength, because all the temptations and trials that they have been faced with will not automatically disappear after baptism. He continued by explaining that constant communication with Jesus through prayer is vital to overcoming temptation and that the good news is that Jesus is always there.

Let us continue to pray for and support our children as well as our school, Bahamas Academy.

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Article By: John Garcia

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