Jonas Manibusan Barcinas, a SOE Alumni Association member, has made a name for himself as being an instrumental administrator who has made an impact in the lives of countless children. He is a Principal for the CNMI Public School System, namely Dandan Elementary School. He received his BAED in Elementary Education with a minor in Social Studies from the University of Guam. He also completed 28 credits in the MAEd Program in Counseling at UOG. He received his MAEd in Educational Leadership & Supervision from San Diego State University, and is currently pursuing his doctorate degree with an emphasis in Educational Leadership from Argosy University, Hawaii.
Here’s what Barcinas had to say when we interviewed him on his educational views and thoughts regarding the association.
1. What made you join SOE (formerly called College of Education)?
This year in June, I was able to attend the Pacific Islands Bilingual Bicultural Association (PIBBA) Conference, which was held at the University of Guam campus. It was during our break time, when I was walking around to meet some friends where I happened to meet the young and vibrant leaders of the Alumni Association trying to reach out to other educators informing them about the program. Without hesitation, I walked to them and bought an alumni shirt. At the same time, I happened to ask them the purpose of their organization. Because they were able to convince me otherwise, I told them that I wanted to be a part of this Alma Mater, since I was a graduate of UOG myself. That’s how I learned about this group. Now being an Elementary Education Major or an educator and a graduate from UOG, I still feel obligated to be part of this fine Association to contribute to the best of my ability to whatever the organization may need.
As an educator, I've always believed in working collaboratively and cooperatively with various educators in finding avenues and solutions to the overwhelming challenges that we are experiencing with students on a daily basis. Either students that are At Risk, behavioral, Academically Challenged, Special Need students with various learning or physical disabilities. I was also a mentor to many of my colleagues when I was a teacher to those that were having difficulties with their students in the classrooms. Being an educator is a huge responsibility and obligation. We all know that this it is a Noble profession though it is our duty to find ways together to make a difference and help our students that are truly hurting emotionally, physically, or simply falling far behind their grade level especially in Reading and Math.
I've always been passionate about being a teacher since I was a young child, and now I am living that example to those I touched. I feel that teachers will not be able to fulfill their goals in reaching out to all of his/her students without the partnership of the parents. It takes a village to educate or raise a child. After all, it is all stakeholders’ responsibility to help make a difference in every child within its community.
2. What is your occupation now, and how long have you served in that position?
I am currently a School Principal IV at Dandan Elementary School in the CNMI Public School System, and have served in that position since 2000. I oversee a capacity of 41 staff and 496 students. Thus, I have been empowered by my Commissioner of Education to oversee and make the necessary decisions for the betterment of the school, which is SITE BASED MANAGEMENT. Accountability at the school level is vital either it be student academic, staffing, safe and orderly facility, balance and doable budget, curriculum, student activities, PTA, and more lies on the palm of my hand and my teacher leaders or LEADERSHIP TEAM. I truly enjoy my job so much that any challenges that come my way, I take it as a way to strengthen my ability to run an effective and efficient school operation. I enjoy helping novice and veteran teachers become effective teachers in the classroom. I've worked tirelessly on curriculum, after school activities, parent involvement, increase teachers and students morale, and build good character education that will create a home atmosphere for one and all. Being a leader at the school requires 24-7 of your time but I love it. Aside from my duty, I am also involved in many Learning Community activities for the system and school level, and with various Non Profit Organizations as a leader or member.
3. How are you making a difference in your profession?
I feel that I’ve done a great job for the school that I lead today. In the past, the school facility was filled with what is in the classroom and very little to deal with instructional materials and structured staff meetings, programs etc. I am a person who empowers teacher leaders to create programs that involve and focus on student learning. I’ve welcomed a character education program that embraces PEACE within the students, staff, parents, and community, and that is the PEACE BUILDER PROGRAM. This has changed our school environment. As a result, there are no disciplinary problems with our kids as well as our teachers and staff. Parents are well informed about this program because we get feedback from them that when there are high discussions at home their children would remind them to become peace builders. This is a language that I hold to my dear heart and today my staff, students, and community are speaking the language as well as putting it to action. The campus is so peaceful that our students and staff enjoy coming to work. For years, none of my staff would leave the school or resign because of my leadership. They only resign because they need to move abroad to pursue their educational endeavors or to move closer to their home. For two consecutive years, none of my staff have left the school. Everyone stayed. The retention at my school is super high. No wants to move at all. I am so happy that they enjoy my leadership and being around the Tottot Family (school Mascot).
Aside from building a positive and welcoming school environment or atmosphere, now our students are doing very well and show consistent improvement in their SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT such as SAT 10 and Standard Based Assessment. This is because I highly encouraged my staff to attend Professional Development on island, school level, or off island. Having to provide them such opportunity, learning in the classroom will eventually become evident because now the teacher themselves are confident and filled with good teaching strategies to instruct their students.
Our WASC Accreditation Reports speaks only of a humble and structured leader and staff. Our school is filled with staff that goes beyond the call duty on weekdays and weekends. I challenged them to get the students involved in the academic and extracurricular activities and for the record, our students have brought home so much pride and joy by winning and placing top in all their participations.
As a leader, sometimes you want to do so much from providing more after school activities for the students, sports, performing arts, tutorial, send teachers off island for trainings but it is understandable that budget is always a challenge, but that will not deter us from performing our very best to provide a structured and fun learning environment for the students under our care. We search for grants, ETC, donations to the business and community, and we receive positive feedback.
Today, Dandan Elementrary School has the adequate and necessary Instructional Materials, technological equipment, programs, and effective trainings to run a great school and provide the best quality learning services to our students. We are a team of ONE, School of ONE, System of ONE.
4. Why should others join the SOE Alumni Association?
I feel that if the any educator likes to network with other educators within our island schools, pacific, or national then it is the individual’s obligation to get involved with the Alumni Association. With the many educational conferences, it is vital that we as educators come together as ONE and work cooperatively and collaboratively in building a team of nation so when we gather we can all learn from one another and this will help us become more effective in what we do in our classrooms. There are so many associations out there in the world, and I feel that we should all stand tall and embrace and nurture ourselves by learning from one another. Learning is a never ending process.
5. What are your favorite memories at the School of Education?
My favorite memories of the School of Education were from the advisors and professors at the time when I was a student at UOG. They were very accommodating, passionate about helping us become successful in our endeavors, an effective teacher. I also miss the camaraderie that we used to have with the Micronesian and local students. There was so much fun learning back then, because the staff and students were as one. Not to mention that today students are provided with better facilities unlike during our time. I’ll never forget our trailer classrooms and simply the four buildings encompassing everyone attending each semester. I truly like it now because it’s more technologically equipped. The library amazed me as well and the rest of the new buildings. Kudos to those past and present leaders that have made an impact in making it a reality for all the students!
6. Are there any other comments that you would like to share?
I want to extend my congratulations and praise to all the past and present UOG leaders and professors, government leaders, business leaders, and community leaders for making UOG a priority in their agenda and providing all the support to making UOG where it is today. Without their commitment to higher learning, we would not have made this dream a reality for those students that want to earn a degree or those that are unable to attend the universities or colleges in the mainland of their choice but to settle here at our very fine university, UOG. This fine university successfully graduated thousands of smart and creative young students and for the record many are out there making a TRUE DIFFERENCE in the lives of our children, business and government community and the community at large.