STE Elementary Education TTTAP Program Lecturer
“I'm proud of those who have completed the program and earned their respective degrees because they now give back to our community and are proactive in education.”
Leone Village, American Sāmoa
School of Teacher Education - Elementary
Where do you work?
I have been teaching in the Territorial Teacher Training Assistance Program (TTTAP)* for more than 20 years, and I am newly retired from teaching full time for 30 years in the American Sāmoa Community College Fine Arts Department. My position included sharing the arts such as indigenous arts, art history, design, drawing, painting, ceramics and photography while being immersed in theatrical productions as Director of Sets and Properties for our Fine Arts Department.
Describe your road to college.
When I graduated from high school, there were three choices to choose from for a future: stay home and get a job, go into the military, or go off island to college. By tenth grade, I was already working hard to make the grades to get a scholarship to attend college off island. I’d made up my mind. My first year in college was tinged with culture shock – there was so much I did not know having been raised outside of the U.S. I felt I had to double time to catch up on some things but overall it paid off. After four years, I returned home as an Art Scholar with BA in Art/Art Education to serve for two years teaching art at one of our public high schools (part of my obligation for the scholarship). I reapplied for another scholarship and returned to the U.S. to earn my Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA) in painting. It was during this three-year program that I found my true calling in the Arts. I returned home to American Sāmoa to serve. My obligation was for two years, but I stayed on for 28 years more.
Is there anyone in particular who inspired you along the way?
It would have to be my brother, Tony Meredith, who is a retired U.S. Latin Dance Champion. We are two years apart. His drive to make it to the top in ballroom dance must’ve rubbed off on me aspiring to do well in graduate school. We never imagined we would go into the arts as a profession when we were kids. I have to say again that it was the upbringing from our parents. Dad’s talents included ukulele & steel guitar playing, and Mom sewed all our clothes. We were surrounded by constant creativity. Our family did many things together, which included big family gatherings with lots of music, food and fun. Plus, we were island kids. My father was stationed at Camp Smith on O‘ahu for eight years before we came home to American Sāmoa.
What does the TTTAP* program mean to you?
Teaching for this program for over 20 years now, I must say that it’s an excellent opportunity for our local teachers who want to pursue a higher degree off island but are unable to because of family or occupational commitments. TTTAP has high standards and expectations, and I am very honored to be a part of the program. I’m proud of those who have completed the program and earned their respective degrees because they now give back to our community and are proactive in education.
You recently had your students’ short stories aired on local radio. Briefly explain how this came about and what it meant to you/to the students.
With our current crisis of the pandemic and Code Blue in place here in American Sāmoa, it meant that I’d have to be teaching theater (THEA 474) to students on ZOOM. So my challenge was how to get my students to experience creativity and expression with some form of an audience. Then it dawned on me: Reader’s Theater. Writing a short story for children of all ages would be one of their assignments. They had to consider writing with local flair, bi-lingual, and mixed with story writing essentials –introduction, character building, conflict, and outcome. It was a tough assignment with a lot of editing, rewriting, and really trying to condense a story in three to four minutes. But the students persevered!
I approached our local radio station 93KHJ and spoke with station Manager Pauga Joey Cummings about the possibility of reading the stories to the listening audience. After he read a few of the examples, he agreed to give it a go! We are so delighted and ever grateful to have this opportunity to share our stories with our community. And so far, we have had about 14 of the stories read by 93KHJ’s talented disc jockeys. You have to be up early on Wednesdays at 6:30am to tune in, but no matter, 93KHJ helped to make it happen!
*TTTAP is a COE School of Teacher Education program for students in American Sāmoa, offering Bachelor of Education (BEd) degrees for in-service elementary teachers in two areas – the Dual Preparation in Elementary and Special Education (ESEE) program and the Dual Preparation in Elementary and Early Childhood Education (EECE) program.
Listen to one of the stories read on 93KHJ.