Miss Litamarie Timoteo of Ili’ili, pictured here during her recent visit to Washington D.C. as American Samoa’s Territorial Teacher of the Year for 2011-2012. While in Washington, Ms. Timoteo got to meet President Barack Obama, who recognized her puletasi and asked her if she was from American Samoa, and thanked her for her work with the children. [courtesy photo]

“It’s an experience of a lifetime... I don’t know if anything will top this” says Litamarie Timoteo the 2011-2012 Territorial Teacher of the Year, who recently returned from Washington DC after a visit to meet president Barack Obama.

Timoteo, a Sixth Grade teacher of Math and English at Tafuna Elementary, said she learned many lessons from the trip and it’s something that she will cherish all her life.

“Meeting the president, the most powerful man in the world was an honor — however that was not what I’m most thankful for,” she said.

“I got to meet other teachers who were selected as the top teachers in their states and I learned how American Samoa is very fortunate compared to other states” said Timoteo.

In an interview with Samoa News she said while the other teachers were discussing the problems they encountered within their schools she just sat there thinking that American Samoa teachers are fortunate.

“Our schools are not that different from schools in the States. We have our fair share of problems, but teachers in American Samoa should consider themselves fortunate” she stated.

“One teacher at the conference said he was selected teacher of the year, and a month later the school closed down. Another teacher said half the staff at her school were laid off due to the unavailability of funds to pay salaries for the teachers, and yet some teachers in American Samoa do not appreciate the resources that are available to teachers here.”

Timoteo noted that another teacher said that their entire staff are teachers who hold Masters degrees in education, and those who want to teach with lower credentials are not qualified to teach in that specific school.

“My point is, that we need to be thankful and appreciate the resources that are given to us because other schools in the United States are not fortunate enough to receive the resources that we have,” she said.

“It’s true we don’t have enough resources given to assist us (teachers) — however my advice is — just use the resources that we have and make the best of it. It may not be enough but it’s something… something is always better than nothing.”

Timoteo said after the group discussion with other teachers the one thing they had in common was the desire to see their students achieve.

“We all agreed that we should focus on increasing and promoting student achievements.” She explained that teachers want to assist their students in focusing on achieving their goals in life.

“Territorial Teacher of the Year” was one of the goals she wanted to reach and upon reaching it was the perfect timing given that she has already attained her bachelors and masters degree, Timoteo said. 

“It’s a learning experience... and being selected as teacher of the year I learned a lot about myself... I got to appreciate our education system and what they have to offer teachers.”

She noted her plans on putting together a presentation of what she gained from the many functions she attended and the experience and lessons she learned as Teacher of the Year.

Timoteo said her visit to the White House was during the National and State Teachers of the year Recognition week where they attended many functions — and the most important was meeting President Barack Obama.

She said when it was her turn to meet President Obama, he looked at her as she walked into the office...“He looked at my puletasi, smiled and asked me if I was from American Samoa.

“I was trying to keep myself together and I was nervous at the same time when I saw him... I didn’t know If I was to hug him, or jump up and down, but then I had to stay calm with all those security people surrounding the president.”

Timoteo said the President thanked her for what she does as an educator and she thanked him in return for what he has done for American Samoa.

The 2012 TTOY holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Curriculum Studies from the University of Hawaii-Manoa. She’s the vice chair of Tafuna Elementary’s math committee and a tutor for Praxis I. She explained that Praxis I is a teaching certification program in which she tutors Cohort courses for teachers.

She is the daughter of the late Vui Kapeli Timoteo and Tina Sofa’i Timoteo.

Samoa News joins the territory in congratulating Ms. Timoteo as the 2011-2012 Territorial Teacher of the Year.


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