Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Education Department director Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga, during the ASDOE presentation last Friday at the cabinet meeting held at the Tafuna Elementary School gym, shared highlights from what the department describes as “Special Interest Projects”.
Among them is a new Masters’ degree program in Educational Leadership with San Diego State University, which is the governor’s alma mater. She said the university has a local facilitator for American Samoa.
“The reason we’re doing this, is because not everyone is equipped to go” off island to seek such degrees, so ASDOE is giving them these tools. She says 25 ASDOE personnel have been selected for the program and “were handpicked”, based on their years of service of five-years and up.
“Most of these teachers, leaders, vice principals, principals — they have been serving for over 10-years. This is an incentive for them to move forward,” she explained.
Another Special Interest Project is what ASDOE calls “Dual Enrollment” for students who continue to excel in high school. She said the percentage of them — about 10% or 15% — “might be small but we’re saying, ‘Challenge yourself’.”
These students can now enroll at the American Samoa Community College to take college courses while still attending high school. “By the time they finish high school, these students should have at least 12 credits. They’re ahead of everybody else. So, to me, that’s another big plus,” Matagi-Tofiga said, and expressed appreciation to ASCC president Dr. Rosevonne Pato for her support.
25 teachers will be graduating in December this year, with Masters’ degrees under the STEM Cohort with the University of Hawaii that was implemented a year ago.
And as public schools are prepared to begin classes next week Tuesday, Sept. 3rd, the Education director said, “We have increased our bandwidth to one-gig, and what that means is that the transfer of data should be fast.”
So far, 26 public schools are now equipped with wi-fi, with help from the E-rate program. Matagi-Tofiga noted that there’s firewall protection so students don’t get to sites they are not supposed to use.
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