PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Out of the 900 teachers in primary and secondary education on Sint Maarten, almost one hundred percent signed up for the Technology in Education conference or C-TEC, that took place on November 12 and 13 at the grounds of the Milton Peters College in Cul de Sac.

In addition, 10 plus other Caribbean islands including the Caricom and Dutch islands were represented.

The first day was dedicated to an audience of primary school educators, who could choose from an array of more than fifty different workshops that were conducted by presenters from Sint Maarten and overseas.

All conceivable dimensions of applying twenty-first century technology in education were on offer. Some workshops dealt with software programs like Edmodo, Prezi or just the intricacies of Microsoft Office. Others focused on the use of interactive whiteboards, or the incorporation of handheld devices, should we use more tablets in the classroom? Further meetings were held on the policy side of these developments. How do we implement all of this in our schools, or more important still, can we afford it financially? But at the end of the day, the main question turned out to be: can we afford not to introduce these twenty first century approaches in educating our youth?

The first day of the conference was slightly busier than the second, as the primary school teachers are a larger number than our secondary school educators. However, they had more workshops to choose from as well, so the almost 500 attendees formed a busy honeycomb of participants hurrying from one workshop to the next. The Milton Peters College proved to be a fitting and efficient location for this intricately coordinated event.

The second day of the conference was specifically geared towards an audience of secondary and tertiary educators. Again, every school was represented by virtually their entire teaching staff, and many support staff and management. This group also had almost fifty different workshops to choose from spread out over the entire day. The great majority of meetings were fully booked in advance by virtue of the system of on-line workshop choice and registering.

Furthermore, a large team of volunteers, themselves higher-form secondary schools students, took care of scanning the barcode printed on the nametag of every participant. This way the attendance of every single session was recorded, and each participant will be provided with his or her certificate of participation accordingly.

While the vast majority of presentations were conducted by local teachers sharing their experience, about a quarter of the workshops were delivered by overseas experts from Antigua, Anguilla, Jamaica, Curaçao, the US Virgin Islands, the Netherlands and the USA. The international presenters were very impressed with the drive and passion of St. Maarten educators and indicated that they can’t wait to come back to St. Maarten next year.

Simultaneously to the workshops, an assembly of local and international providers of computer devices, management software, ICT services, communication and educational soft- and hardware, populated an exposition that was frequented the entire day by interested teachers, school officials and policy makers. Local businesses Keijzer Computers, Boolchand’s, Klass electronics, Office World as well as Telem and UTS were present to present their technical contributions to twenty-first century learning.

They were accompanied by a number of international providers as Skool Netherlands, providing educational management solutions, International educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt,  educational business partner PowerUpEDu from Atlanta, USA, Infotrans Curacao  and E-Learning Company Jamaica, all providing educational digital solutions in line with 21st century learning
The initial feedback on both days was extremely positive. Many in attendance voiced their appreciation for the wide array of expertise and information available in lectures as well as hands-on workshops and displays, and declared to be inspired to apply these technologies in their own teaching environment in the future.

It was noted that this was the first major event organized on Sint Maarten around the theme of Technology in Education, and certainly the largest of its kind. It was appreciated that the organizing committee consisted practically entirely of dedicated volunteers, and the event was organized with very limited preparation time and relatively little means. All of these circumstances taken into account, the two-day event proceeded almost without a glitch. Further evaluation data will be collected via on on-line questionnaire that all participants are currently prompted to fill out as both participants and exhibitors, locally and internationally envision an annual event, which will contribute also to St. Maarten’s economy, already having received commitments from international corporate companies in the educational and Technology world.

True to the groundbreaking character of the conference, the intense use of internet bandwidth eventually got the better of the available infrastructure, causing a – temporary – loss of internet availability at the end of day two due to a most probably overheated rauter. Even this however was quickly restored, and serves as a reminder that our local internet infrastructure will have to be strengthened alongside the introduction of cutting-edge technology in the classroom. However, it was a unique event that if not for first time ever, both UTS and Telem teamed up and offered a total of 100 MB internet speed during the conference.

This shows the way how country St. Maarten should move forward by collaborating and offer and display the best towards education. Big thumbs up for our two main local internet providers. The organizers are however extremely grateful to the local internet providers for pushing the envelope in facilitating the conference with the largest bandwidth currently possible within their present means, and even more.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The people of St. Maarten through their representatives, paid tribute to the 129 lives lost in Paris France last Friday, due to a terrorist attack perpetrated by the Islamist group ISIS.

The tributes were paid to the people of the Republic of France by means of laying writhes and lighting candles during a ceremony at the seat of the Government on the Northern side of the island Monday morning.

Paying tribute and expressing their condolence were the Governor of St. Maarten his Excellency Eugene B. Holiday, the Council of Ministers were led by the Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Marcel Gumbs and representing the Parliament of St. Maarten was the Chair Lady of Parliament the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - "It is in our region's interest to unite around Sir Ronald Sanders, if our CARICOM is serious about ensuring that one of our own becomes the next Secretary General of the Commonwealth.

When our region identified the coordination of foreign policy as one of the four pillars of our integration movement, it was with a clear understanding that this unity of purpose formed the best option for advancing our foreign policy interest. Sir Ronald Sanders is our 'best option' at this time." - Dr. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister, Grenada (Caribbean News Now)

"No developing country can effectively attain a sustainable growth path or developed-economy status unless it has a vibrant and sustainable agricultural sector. Just take note of most developed countries. They have some of the most vibrant and developed agricultural sectors and more so, most of them are practically self-sufficient in basic food, both at the level of the primary product and at the top of the value-added chain in manufacturing." - Esworth Reid, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Barbados (Jamaica Observer)
"Five-time NBA Championship winner and son of St. Croix, Tim Duncan, has reached another astonishing milestone in his spectacular career. With the San Antonio Spurs' victory over the New York Knicks on Monday, Tim racked up his 954th career win with a single team, breaking the record previously held by Hall of Fame point guard John Stockton. This U.S. Virgin Islander keeps showing us that his passion and drive know no limits!" - Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Commissioner of Tourism, United States Virgin Islands

"This new (JetBlue Airways service from New York) is a wonderful milestone as it is the first inaugural flight into the new V.C. Bird International Airport and represents an important step in increasing the airlift to our country, which is an important part in the success of our tourism industry." - Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy, Antigua and Barbuda (Travel Pulse)
"As part of efforts to build capacity and empower our people during the period September to November, we have been conducting taxi training seminars for taxi operators to lift the quality of service and enhance the overall visitor experience. However, training will not be limited to the transportation sector as we shall extend it to shops, vendors and to employees in the industry." - Lindsay Grant, Minister of Tourism, St. Kitts and Nevis
"Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities; seize common occasions and make them great." - Orison Swett Marden, Writer
 
"No matter who your mother and father may be, you belong to the human race." - Lord Pretender, Calypsonian

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The police have arrested three (3) men, who tried to enter the country Sint Maarten on Saturday November 14th of whom, due to the vigilance of immigration officers at the airport, it was discovered that the travel documents they presented were false. 

These men are believed to be from Syria and travelling on Greek passports with as destination Europe.

The police Force is presently investigating the case and questioning the three suspects.

The Police Force of Sint Maarten is exchanging information with different international police organizations, like Interpol, to establish the identity and true nationality of the suspects.

At this moment the Country of Sint Maarten doesn’t have any information indicating that Sint Maarten is under any threat of acts of terrorism.

In the meantime the Police is urging members of the community to be vigilant given the current situation unfolding in France.

The authorities manning critical infrastructures are urged to heighten their security and remain alert for any suspicious activities or persons they may encounter and inform the police.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – The St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association is pleased to announce Interval International as the main International Sponsor for the Crystal Pineapple Awards to be held on Friday November 20th at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino.

Interval International operates membership programs for vacationers and provides value-added services to its developer clients worldwide. Based in Miami, Florida, the company has been a pioneer and innovator in serving the vacation ownership market since 1976.

“Interval is pleased to sponsor this year’s ceremony that will acknowledge individuals who make such important contributions to the tourism Industry. Their dedication and exemplary service helps make the island a special place to visit and a popular destination among our members”, said Neil Kolton, Interval’s director of resort sales and service for the Caribbean and Florida. Interval is an operating business of Interval Leisure Group, Inc., a leading global provider of non-traditional lodging, encompassing a portfolio of leisure businesses from exchange and vacation rental to vacation ownership. Interval International has been a long-time supporter of the tourism industry in the Caribbean – it has been involved in the region since 1977 when it affiliated its first Caribbean resort. Interval's exchange network comprises more than 2,900 resorts in over 80 nations. Through offices in 16 countries, Interval offers high-quality products and benefits to resort clients and approximately 2 million families who are enrolled in various membership programs.

Today, as a Strategic Partner of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), a Board Member of CHTA, and a Board Member of Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) Foundation, Interval remains committed to the region. “The SHTA is thrilled to have Interval International be a part of the 10th Annual Crystal Pineapple Award as our International Main Sponsor. This sponsorship indicates that the significance of the Crystal Pineapple Awards is being recognized internationally. We are very appreciative of Interval’s support of our association’s efforts to promote St. Maarten and the wonderful vacation experience we provide to many thousands of visitors every year,” said Executive Director Anenda Zaandam.

The Crystal Pineapple Award Ceremony, the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association’s largest annual event, will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year alongside the 45th Anniversary of the SHTA.

To date the Awards Gala is the ONLY event on the island that recognizes Hospitality & Trade personnel, organizations and associations for their contribution towards the tourism industry. During the 2015 “Night of the Industry Stars” themed Gala Awards, individuals who are employed in the Hospitality and Trade industry will receive awards in the categories of Accommodations, Restaurants & Bars, Trade, Timeshare, as well the category Outstanding Community Service Achievement, Best Entertainer of the year and Best Customer Service Representative.

Tickets for the Crystal Pineapple Awards are on sale for $150 dollars and can be purchased at the SHTA office on the Pond fill. Limited seating is available for the night as tickets sales are increasing. Therefore early purchase ensures a seat at this year’s spectacular 10th Anniversary Crystal Pineapple Awards and the 45th Anniversary celebration of the St. Maarten Hospitality and trade Association.

The SHTA, the largest business representative on the island, is dedicated to bringing quality to all aspects of life on St. Maarten by promoting sustainable economic development for its members in cooperation with the social partners and the creation of a fair marketplace. For more information, please contact the SHTA office: 542-0108, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website www.shta.com .

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