Atlantic Caribbean Union

ATCU Holds First Teachers' Convention


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.