On January 11th, Colegio San Hose elementary school celebrated its 83 years of existence. The school’s principal, Miss Dyan Croes Caster, spoke to the local press explaining what this celebration means for the school and how the school use to be compared to now.
“Today is a very special day, because Colegio San Hose just marked 83 years of educating our children and leading with respect, discipline and love towards our fellow man”, she expressed.
She recalls the time she was going through the history of the school and noticed that around 1950, the school had about 600 students. At the time, it was decided that 45 students in one class would be too crowded, so they branched out to the districts of Paradera and Santa Cruz.
Croes Caster further explained that Colegio San Hose is a multilingual school. This was a part of a then prototypical project that started ten years ago, where the school gives out learning materials and lessons in four different languages. This is something very interesting and important for the children.
She stated that the biggest challenge over the last 83 years have always been the maintenance of the school’s population and quality in the education they wish to provide. The financial part, she added, cannot be left out either, for it has not changed in a very long time. It is for this reason that they cannot provide much of new digital materials for the children.
“Any extra support we receive usually comes from our own initiatives, parents who help and other third parties who help us sometimes”, she pointed out.
Colegio San Hose currently has 250 students divided into twelve classes, a big team of 22 teachers and volunteers too. “We have a big family and a parents committee who lend a hand when we need it”, she said.
The director highlighted that there is room for improvement, especially in terms of keeping up with the current educational standard. She commented that in traditional schools, mentality about the children’s education is different, and many children struggle to express themselves in their own native language nowadays (Dutch is traditionally taught in all schools on the island), though they are allowed to. The difference in Colegio San Hose is that children are not only taught to express themselves in their own native language, but also how to do so in other languages.
Croes Caster indicated that Colegio San Hose started its multilingual project in 2012, along with Colegio Conrado Coronel from the bottom up.
“At that time everything was new. The teachers had to work very hard to get materials for their lessons, because there was nothing they could use at the time. There were some methods, but you would have to return these along with your extra materials”, the principal stated.
The students who started school under this project are now finishing up high school, and the principle gushed that the results were positive.
“The kids did well in high school. You have to look at it like it’s a bank: you deposit so many words in different languages and then you can take it back out when needed”, she added.
She explained that the way the system works is first, second and third graders receive lessons in Papiamento, and receive language lessons as separate subjects. Fourth graders start the year with lessons in Papiamento, but switch to Dutch in the second half of the year. Fifth and sixth graders receive lessons in Dutch. Papiamento in turn is given as a separate subject.
Lastly, Croes Caster indicated that for this celebration, they told the students the school’s history. She also expressed her gratitude for those who helped the school reached its 83 years of existence.
“We are thankful for our past principals, past teachers, everyone who have helped us, and the past and current parents committee. To the Aruban community, thank you for supporting Colegio San Hose when we needed it the most!”