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Jennifer Smith

PLP Holding Two Town Hall Meetings This Week

This upcoming week the Progressive Labour Party will be holding two town hall meetings.

The first meeting, Standing Strong for the East, will take place on Tuesday, November 27 at 7:00pm at Penno's Wharf, St. George's. This meeting will cater to Constituencies 1, 2 and 3, and will feature the respective candidates, Dame Jennifer Smith for St. George's North, Renee Ming for St. George's West, and Lovitta Foggo for St. David's.

The second meeting, Standing Strong for Warwick, will be on Thursday, November 29 at 7:00pm at St. Mary's Church Hall. Catering to Constituencies 24 through 28, the featured candidates will be Lawrence Scott for Warwick South East, Dale Butler for Warwick North East, Marc Bean for Warwick South Central, Lt. Col. David Burch for Warwick North Central and Jonathan Smith for Warwick West.

The PLP encourages all members of these constituencies to come out and attend these important public meetings. This is an opportunity to listen to your candidates, ask any questions, and voice any concerns you may have.

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Preparing Bermudian Students for Good Paying Jobs

Today, Minister Dame Jennifer Smith announced that the PLP Government has partnered with several dozen private sector partners to create Career Pathways - a programme that connects our students with employers.

Dame Jennifer:

The Career Pathways Programme represents a cornerstone in the foundation of the development of our students. Recognising that all careers require certain basic fundamental knowledge and skills, the programme is designed to provide public school students with pathways to greater preparation for career and college opportunities for a fulfilling life beyond the classroom.

This initiative is a partnership between the Ministry of Education, the Bermuda College and Bermuda’s industry partners.

Career Pathways, which was launched earlier this month is being overseen by Dr. Radell Tankard of the Department of Education. It launched with 223 S3 students from the Berkeley Institute and CedarBridge Academy.

There are a total of five (5) pathways - Early College - Applied Technologies - Athletics, Arts and Communication - Health and Human Services - and Business and Hospitality...

This is what standing strong for Bermudians looks like - creating programmes that connect our Bermudian students with potential employers, introducing them to the job market and opportunities that exist. This is exactly the kind of programme that will motivate students and educate them about the career opportunities that exist right here in Bermuda.

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Government Gives $2.2 Million Worth of Scholarships to Bermudian Students

This is what standing strong for Bermudians looks like! The PLP Government has dramatically increased the amount of higher education scholarships available to Bermudian students.

Last Thursday, August 16th, parents and students gathered at the XL Building for the annual presentation of the Bermuda Government Scholars and other Awards and Bursuries.

Minister Dame Jennifer Smith presented a total of $2.2 million in scholarships and awards to 60 deserving Bermudians studying for a wide range of careers.

The funds cover students in the following categories:

Ø Bermuda Government Scholarships;
Ø Further Education Awards;
Ø Interest Free Student Loans;
Ø Mature Student Awards;
Ø Sabbatical Awards; and
Ø Teacher Training Awards

The 2012 Bermuda Government Scholars were among the 60 who received scholarships and awards and are: Erik Pearson, Kelsea Williams, Marianglea Bucci, Rachel Waldron, Tia Lori Smith, Alesha Page, Kyla Sinclair and Tashel Bean.

Dame Jennifer praised the recipients for their accomplishments and reminded them that they represent Bermuda's future as she encouraged them to return to the Island with their skills and credentials. Dame Jennifer:

Being chosen as a Bermuda Government Scholar is a significant achievement, something you can put on your resume and something that we in the Ministry plan to remember with a plaque...

For our part, the Government remains committed to assisting all whom we can to prepare to serve Bermuda.

In these tough economic times, the PLP is standing strong for Bermudians by dramatically increasing the number of scholarships given to Bermudian students. We're proud to be giving $2.2 million to these 60 deserving Bermudians this year. The opposition calls it wasteful debt. We call it creating opportunities for our young people. If you want scholarships like this to continue to grow and expand, vote solidly PLP.

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Investing in Our Community: Burch Adopts Purvis Primary School

Lt. Col. David Burch, PLP Candidate for Constituency #27, isn't just talking the talk, he's walking the walk by agreeing to invest in the development of Purvis Primary School!

Thusfar, the Adopt-A-School programme, spearheaded by Dame Jennifer Smith and the PLP has raised $180,000 for repairs and renovations to schools across the island. Yesterday, Dame Jennifer announced that Lt. Col. Burch is the latest to step up and make a donation to helping an individual school develop and thrive. Dame Jennifer:

Today, we are here to celebrate the adoption of Purvis Primary, by Lt. Col. David A. Burch, OBE, ED, JP.

Ladies and gentlemen, Col. Burch is no stranger to public service as you all know, having served the Government in numerous Ministerial capacities.

And today, this demonstration of his commitment to our young people is just another extension of his selfless public service.

Col. your act of generosity for the students of Purvis Primary will have a far reaching effect on this school, and it gives me great pleasure to publicly thank you for your contribution.

Ladies and gentlemen, to date the Adopt-A-School programme has raised over $180,000 for repairs and services for more than a dozen of the Island’s public schools.

The initiative allows principals, teachers and students to get on with the job of teaching and learning, without worrying about maintenance or repairs or even supplies.

The PLP is a grassroots party that has always been connected to the community. We're a party that has invested in developing our communities. We may not always crow about our accomplishments - we let things like FutureCare, DayCare and our public education reforms speak for themselves. In these difficult global economic times, we're investing in our communities and remaining connected to our communities.

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More Training, New Leadership for Our Schools

The PLP's education reforms continue with an announcement by Minister Dame Jennifer Smith that our teachers will be getting more training and mentorships. Some schools will also get new leadership.

Minister Dame Jennifer Smith:

The changes that are taking place in Education are designed to re-professionalise the landscape of teaching and learning in the classroom by ensuring that teachers have the support of job-embedded professional development to improve the quality of teaching for better student outcomes.

These changes are the product of time, effort and consultation; with the Bermuda Union of Teachers and the Association of School Principals.

Our unions continue to drive a hard bargain and in many cases compromises were struck.

The changes that will take place for the 2012/2013 school year are designed to support and develop teacher leaders.

The job description for deputy principals was rewritten to enhance instructional leadership and following a recruitment exercise, most schools will have new deputy principals who will form part of the shared leadership at each school.

Teachers are lifelong learners and in order to strengthen their content knowledge in the Cambridge core subjects of mathematics, English and science, the Department will introduce coaching positions created to drive content delivery for student success at the primary and middle school levels.

Mentor teachers normally provide orientation and instructional support for new teachers; but as of the next school year their duties will include working with developing teachers, as well as with schools in need of support.

New ‘teacher leader’ posts will replace ‘scale posts’ at the primary and middle school levels. The new role will emphasise teacher leadership in each of the core subject areas of math, science, language arts and social studies. Recruitment for these posts will begin next week.

Even with the increased P1 enrolment, there are more teachers at the primary level than there are classes. However, we are committed to ensuring that no permanent staff are made redundant.

As a result, some of these teachers have been redeployed to fill vacancies and others to serve as support teachers providing relief support for teaching and learning and instructional growth.

The use of support teachers will reduce the need for some substitute teachers, thereby making this a budget savings too.

More training. Mentorship programmes. Saving jobs. Restructuring that helps students. Dame Jennifer Smith and the PLP are committed to continuing our education reforms.

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Second Autism Class to Open Next Year

Diagnosed cases of autism are on the rise and the PLP is responding by expanding a special education programme for autistic kids.

Dame Jennifer makes the announcement:

Last year, we launched a pilot programme for students on the spectrum at West Pembroke Primary School. Today, I am delighted to reveal that in the 2012/2013 school year, the pilot programme is being extended to a second ASD classroom at Prospect Primary School...

This ASD expanded programme is in direct response to the need demonstrated by the pilot programme, to provide appropriate services and support for identified students. The programme is based on proven effective international models; and tailored to meet the specific needs of Bermuda’s students.

Because the ASD classrooms are based on proven international best practices, they will serve as centres of excellence and teaching classrooms for parents, educators, paraprofessionals, and other support service providers.

Each classroom will be staffed by personnel trained and qualified in autism spectrum disorders, who will deliver educational and related services, such as applied behaviour analysis (ABA). While speech, occupational and physical therapy will be supplied by the Department of Health.

We're continuing to reform the education system to meet the needs of our students and expanded autism services is part of our commitment to making the public education system work for ALL of our kids.

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Dame Jennifer Delivers for St. George's

Even UBP/OBA supporters acknowledge that Dame Jennifer Smith is connected to her community and delivers real results that benefit the people of St. George's.

In her statement, she noted her connection to St. George's as well as the many activities she has sponsored in the constituency. Dame Jennifer:

I stand before you humbled at the opportunity to once again serve the people of St. George’s North.
I am an unapologetic St. Georgian - so it is with great joy that I accept the candidacy for this constituency.

Since my reelection in 2007, I have continued to work in the best interests of St. George’s in particular and children in general. Here in St. George’s that meant Christmas Hampers for the needy – the Annual Easter Egg Hunt - the Annual Future Leaders’ Awards (now in its 6th year), our Annual ‘Back to School’ Event, in concert with St. George’s Cricket Club and Constituencies 2 and 3 – and our Community Movie Night at the St. George’s Community Centre.

As Minister of Education, we have focused on teaching and learning in order to spread equity across the system by raising standards and offering help on site, at the schools.

In addition, thanks to the Ministry of Works, our roads have been paved, lights installed on Barry Road; and today - Coot Pond Road returned to two-way status.

She went on to talk about how the PLP accepted the challenge of the global economic crisis and helped protect jobs and the social safety net in Bermuda. Dame Jennifer:

As a Government we have confronted the worst global economic crisis since the great depression. It has been a tough battle, but we are winning the fight. We are making progress in terms of economic recovery and our spending has been invested in making this country better. We spent - not because we like roads or buildings – we spent to provide jobs, assure health and achieve success and stability for the people of this country.

Yes, there have been challenges but there have also been successes. We continue to relentlessly and aggressively tackle crime while addressing the long simmering conditions that helped to create a culture of criminality among some of our citizens.

Our work in this arena, like our work in education, is too important to be made the fodder of partisan politics.

As we look to the future and the next election. I want to thank you for the privilege of serving you. Thank you for placing your trust in me.

Dame Jennifer is a trailblazer and a strong and effective leader. And, she hasn't forgotten her community. She is from St. George's and she understands what the community through and through.

She knows that an economic crisis is not the time to engage in savage cuts that will mean lost jobs and lost opportunity for Bermudians. She believes in Bermudians and is committed to continuing the investment to ensure that all Bermudians can rise as far as talents will take them.

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PLP Delivers $500,000 Retraining Scholarship Fund

We know that Bermudians are looking for jobs and opportunity. That's why we created a $500,000 Scholarship Fund that will help train Bermudians to take advantage of better paying jobs.

The fund, announced earlier this morning, will be available to provide training for Bermudians looking to advance their skills. Minister Patrice Minors:

I am delighted to announce that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will be establishing a $500,000 Retraining Scholarship Fund at the Bermuda College to assist in:

 Retraining Bermudians seeking employment in a particular professional designation; and

 To assist in retraining individuals who may already be employed but who lack the resources to pursue a specific professional designation in their field.

But I want to be clear – this isn’t just any scholarship.

This fund will be used to address a specific need and will target a specific segment of our workforce – that is, those professional persons with experience in knowledge-based sectors who need to become certified in key areas, as well as recent college graduates who need to specialize through the certification process. Our aim is to assist these persons to become more marketable, reinventing themselves in accordance with the needs of the economy.

The public will recall that Bermuda’s most recent Census results counted 2,581 persons unemployed, with the Island’s official unemployment rate standing at 6%. And we at the Ministry have worked tirelessly in the last couple of years to address our unemployment concerns by implementing numerous initiatives to increase employment opportunities for Bermudians.

Under the auspices of the Department of Labour and Training we have dedicated considerable efforts to ensuring that those Bermudians who needed it were given the assistance to acquire those basic job skills to enter the workplace.

However it is clear that this economic downturn has been indiscriminate. It has affected all sectors of our workforce, large and small businesses; professional and blue collar workers. And what we recognise is that there are different levels of unemployment that need to be addressed.

Hence the introduction of the Re-Training Scholarship Fund.

Ladies and gentlemen, a critical component in our economic recovery plan is to increase the opportunities of developing our workforce by re-training Bermudians. As part of the Government’s Workforce Development Strategy, the Department has identified a need for training in the following areas of occupation.

These include, but are not limited to:

 Accounting
 Information Technology
 Secondary Education; and
 Other key areas within International Business

Quite simply, this is about providing support for those in knowledge based professions.

This is about assisting those Bermudians who have experience, but who have had trouble getting back into the industry because of the downturn in the economy.

We're making this investment in Bermuda because we believe in Bermudians. We know that during these tough economic times, people of all stripes need help and this scholarship fund will go a long way toward helping Bermudians take advantage of opportunities to advance themselves and their careers.

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Dame Jennifer Schools Craig Cannonier on Education Reform

We would forgive Craig Cannonier for not really understanding what government has done - but, he and his party think he's qualified to lead it!

Minister Dame Jennifer Smith schooled Craig Cannonier on education reforms we delivered beginning four years ago. Dame Jennifer:

The Honourable Member, the Leader of the Opposition, is reported as saying (in reference to the Hopkins Report): “That was five years ago and yet only at the start of 2012 was the Government bringing Professor Hopkins recommendations before the House. The failure to move with urgency on education is not a one-off.”

Now, I’ll grant you Mr. Speaker that members should be able to talk about the government, politicise issues and generally take advantage of any missteps of their opponents. What they cannot do – Mr. Speaker – is ignore the facts in order to score cheap political points.

Mr. Speaker, that honourable member was speaking of the debate on the Joint Select Committee report on education reform which took place in February. If that honourable member had listened when Party Whip MP Lovitta Foggo spoke to her motion, he would have heard the Member talk about the progress that had been made in the five years since the Report.

His colleague, the Shadow Minister of Education, the honourable member Grant Gibbons, who was elected to this House in a Bye-Election on 14 July 1994, and was a member of government when the 1996 Education Act creating Middle Schools and Senior Schools was enacted, certainly could have told him about the amendments made to that very same Act which were debated and passed in this House on 8 August 2008.

A mere one year after the Report was submitted in 2007!

Mr. Speaker, last week, I said that we have a responsibility to lead and to inform. This week, I want to add that we also have a responsibility to inform ourselves.

Mr. Speaker, we’ve all heard the saying: ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’. Legislation was passed in this House before that honourable member was elected and he has a responsibility to know about it.

Mr. Speaker, I wasn’t alive during slavery – but I know that it happened. I know that my ancestors were sold at auction, transported on slave ships and hunted down if they tried to escape.

Mr. Speaker, it was during the honourable Deputy Speaker’s (Member K. Randolph Horton’s) tenure as Minister of Education that the EDUCATION AMENDMENT ACT 2008 was debated and passed.

With its passage Government repealed the post of “Chief Education Officer”, created the post of "Commissioner of Education” and set out the functions of the Commissioner. In addition, the role of the Board of Education was expanded and the number of persons on the Board increased to make it representative of the various groups who have a stake in education.

The amendments also provided for accountability in the education system and for curriculum and performance standards that are benchmarked against international standards.

In addition, the amendment extended the school age from 16 years to 18 years.

Mr. Speaker, it was clause 8 of the 2008 amendment, that inserted provisions in the 1996 Act for School based accountability – Performance recognition – Identification of low performing schools and measures to be taken to improve their performance – Identification of students at risk and measures to address this – Development of academic standards – Development of curriculum standards – and Testing of students.

Craig Cannonier doesn't know what he's talking about. He is dangerously ill informed and he just isn't ready to lead. These are tough times, can we really afford to take the Craig Cannonier risk, Bermuda?

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Education Reform Marches On

The Hopkins Report. The Cambridge Curriculum. Teacher training. New technology. Major investments. The PLP is taking action to reform our schools and improve the quality of education our children receive.

Today, Minister Dame Jennifer Smith continued our reforms by reappointing high quality deputing principals and bringing in new deputy principals to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to their respective schools.

To ensure that the highest quality deputy principals are chosen and to guard against favouritism, the Department of Education introduced a new process in which the deputies were chosen by the Department, with input by Principals. In the past, deputies were chosen by individual Principals.

The process included a rigourous interview process in front of panels which included principals and Department of Education officials. An approved pool of candidates was then created from which principals of maintained schools then carried out their own interviews. Principals then submitted their recommendations which were reviewed by the Department of Education, who then placed them according to principal requests and system needs.

This process ensures that our schools have the best possible deputy principals that are the right fit for each institution.

Congratulations to the following individuals on their selection:

Dalton E. Tucker Primary School, Tajuana Dean
East End Primary School, Daltonell Minors
Elliot Primary School, Dianne Simmons
Francis Patton Primary School, Helen Paynter
Gilbert Institute, Suzette Cheeseman
Harrington Sound Primary School, Marsha Rollins
Heron Bay Primary School, Cindy Lambert
Northlands Primary School, Gina Evans
Paget Primary School, Sonia Haley
Port Royal Primary School, Cindy Weeks
Prospect Primary School, Kennelyn Smith
Purvis Primary School, Michael Bean
Somerset Primary School, Angela Edwards
St. David’s Primary School, Julie Foggo
St. George’s Preparatory School, Keema Perry
Victor Scott Primary School, Stephen Coddington
West End Primary School, Tamecia Darrell
West Pembroke Primary School, Wendell Smith
Clearwater Middle School, Terrilyn Doyle
Dellwood Middle School, Tina Duke
Sandys Secondary Middle School, Karen Raynor
T.N. Tatem Middle School, Chris Swan
Whitney Institute, Stacey DeShield
CedarBridge Academy, Rosemary Matthews, Timothy Sousa, Anthony Wade
The Berkeley Institute, Keisha Douglas, Nadia Tuckett Robinson, Tiannia Symonds

Minister Dame Jennifer Smith:

The Department of Education has created a professional development framework for these deputy principals over the following year. There is also an expectation and a responsibility on Principals to ensure accountability.

I trust you will join us in congratulating the new appointments and the reappointment of experienced deputy principals.

The PLP government is committed to continuing the reforms and improving our schools.

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