"A night of Celebration and Recognition"
It was a night of celebration and recognition for not only the teachers and administrators but for other Department of Education personnel for their many years of service in a department which has a workforce of more than 1,800.
Four former DOE directors were also honored during the ceremony held Thursday night at the Gov. Rex Lee Auditorium, where DOE director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau gave brief remarks, called the event a celebration and promised to make it an annual one.
She says the evening was not one for speeches but “it is a night for us to enjoy and to share that enjoyment with one another.”
“I have always felt, being the largest department in government, and the most educated group of people in the entire territory and yet, we don’t spend time to celebrate the work that we’ve done,” she said.
She asked the deputy directors, “that we will make this an annual occasion to celebrate the work that we do,” to applause from the crowd, which included former DOE directors Uta Dr. Laloulu Tagoilelagi, Dr. Sili Kerisiano Sataua, Dr. Uiagalelei Lealofi and Dr. Claire Poumele. “That’s our dream, to have this as an annual occasion.”
She also acknowledged the four former directors for attending the event and being part of the celebration.
During this week’s Teacher’s Appreciation, she said, it's important to take time out “to say our gratitude not only to God, but to one-another. I’m grateful for each one of you.”
She shared with the audience that while greeting those in the audience prior to the program’s opening, “I thought to myself - ‘Salu this is not a campaign, it’s over’.” The audience laughed as the director was referring to last year’s gubernatorial race where she was a candidate for governor and did the same thing—greeting people at her campaign rallies.
She told the DOE gathering that she wanted to “shake your hand and say hello and express my gratitude to each one of you.”
“Thank you,” she concluded as the awards for recognition and service in DOE got underway, followed by entertainment, dinner and then dancing to music provided by a DJ. Overall DOE presented some 60 awards to teachers and administrators with appreciation certificates, plaques and trophies for years of service, outstanding performance and other achievements.
Based on information announced that evening, it was Litaea Tuaolo, who received an award for 55 years of service in DOE. She works in the School Lunch Program and was honored as the one with the longest years of service currently with DOE.
Other awards presented were to: Apisaloma Tiumalu, a teacher at Masefau Elementary and Si’ufa’alele Leulua’i a teacher at Faleasao Elementary, who were each honored for 35 years of service; Siatunu’u Le’iato and Vaasaumamao Leupola were honored for 30 years of service. Special recognition was given to Sally Faumuina, who was the secretary for previous DOE directors for several years. Faumuina is now the secretary to Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga.
Thursday night’s celebration was part of Teacher Appreciation Week in American Samoa and the celebration ended yesterday with a DOE gathering at the Veterans Memorial Stadium for fun and games. It was also a day off for all public schools.