INTERVIEW WITH KENIA MARGARITA MARGARITA ZORRILLA NIEVES
First lay headmistress of El Rosario School, El Seibo (Dominican Republic)
El Rosario School
Teaching staff: 36
Support and administrative staff: 24
How has your career as a teacher been inside and outside of El Rosario School?
I consider that my career at El Rosario School has always been very committed, dedicated and student oriented. In these 13 years at the school, I have had the opportunity to teach from Pre-Primary to Eighth grade, which has allowed me to have a mastery of the skills required by children of different levels, ages and characteristics, then in September 2019 I assume the pedagogical coordination of the first cycle until the school year 2022-2023. Being coordinator allowed me to interact differently with teachers, through trust and communication for the improvement of classroom processes. Currently I am the principal, a professional challenge that requires me to be better every day, it has been a journey where I have gone from less to more. I consider myself passionate about my work.
Outside the center, I understand that I have also had a responsible and collaborative career, because in my actions I have always tried to leave a positive mark wherever I am, since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed being a community animator, being in clubs, choirs, sharing with my family. I can be funny, playful and natural, but at the same time very focused and attached to the values and principles with which I have grown up.
How do you feel in your new role as director of El Rosario School?
I feel very fortunate and grateful for the trust the MDRs have placed in me. I remember my childhood in the corridors of the school, playing or in the classroom taking classes with the teacher Margarita Pablo Galán (Dominican Missionary) and I say: “wow”, who would have imagined that this girl today would be the principal of this school, and I thank God for the talents received and the values that were instilled in me, because they are the ones that guide my daily work.
What challenges have you had to face in this new role?
There have been several, the first is to learn to say “no” to many people I esteem, friends, relatives, former students, neighbors who come to the center seeking enrollment (in the initial level the vast majority) and there is no room, since the demand is great and there is no room for everyone. Another challenge is to maintain the prestige and the educational brand that the MDRs have left throughout the years in the city of El Seibo, transmitting to all the personnel that work in the center the identity and the values that characterize us from its days of foundation as it has been in the hands of the missionaries and now, it is my turn to work so that it remains.
How do you see the educational system in the Dominican Republic?
Well, among the failures of our educational system, there is the little demand from the ministry to the families, the school cannot do it alone and the families should be more involved in the learning process of their sons and daughters. Currently, situations of violence and lack of discipline are becoming stronger and stronger in schools, and we feel that the family has practically left everything to the school.
It is necessary to create spaces where children with different special educational needs can be in regular schools, but with the conditions they need to make progress and with teachers who are adequately prepared to work with these children.
We have strengths, and undoubtedly one of them is the great academic offer, so that teachers can prepare and keep themselves updated. There are many national and international scholarships for different postgraduate courses, which shows the interest for our country to have teachers with high performance levels. Another strength is the economic resources available to the schools through Decentralization, this allows each director together with the School Board to meet the needs of their school and thus raise the quality of pedagogical processes, which is the main purpose.
As an MDR school, what elements should we strengthen to achieve our Mission and Vision?
I believe that one element that must be strengthened is the link with the other MDR schools, since by interacting directly and constantly we can strengthen our identity and the approach to teaching that we must impart to the children in all curricular and extracurricular activities.
How do you feel being the first lay principal of El Rosario School?
I feel happy, committed and fully identified with this new role, since I am a daughter of this school, I studied here, I taught here, I was the coordinator and now I am the principal, I am more than grateful to God and the congregation for taking me into account, for all that I have done and all that I still have to do. I am in God’s hands, and I have nothing to fear.
What do you think is the contribution of the education offered by El Rosario School to education in El Seibo?
The main contribution that as a school we offer to the community is the integral formation of our children who, from the initial level to the primary level, work on the values that identify us as a school, “Study, Truth and Work” hand in hand with discipline, although it becomes increasingly difficult, as a school we work hard every day, shoulder to shoulder to leave a positive mark on the children, aspiring to provide a quality education and this is perceived and valued by the community in general.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have been able to share my experience. I am highly committed to the possibility that the MDRs have given me to contribute to my community through my management as principal of my school, where I have the desire to do well, as Ascension Nicol quotes “It is not enough to do good, it is necessary to do it well”.