By Chelsea Baranowski, Special Contributor to News of St. John
We recently caught up with the lovely Ms. Jeune Provost outside the St. John School of the Arts, one of her two places of work. Luckily, Julius E. Sprauve School – her other place of employment – and the School of the Arts are only two blocks away, caddy-cornered across from the police station, near the band stand and in the center of Cruz Bay. While we chatted about Jeune’s life as an esteemed teacher, a native Virgin Islander, a mother, and her other various roles, she continued to attend to students, assist with their rides home, and watch her daughter finish her dancing class (before she began her own). Jeune’s ambition and light shine through from the moment you meet her.
Like everyone on St. John, Ms. Provost’s life was disrupted and required some concessions and alterations after the storms. However, as a native of St. Thomas, a strong career woman and dedicated wife and mother, Jeune had no plans of letting Irma get in the way of her future. Jeune’s husband had lost his business, and her in-laws left island after the storm. So with a daughter to think about, she was forced to reconsider her position at the Department of Education in St. Thomas. Jeune made the decision to teach over at the Sprauve School where she had worked and thrived for the three previous years. We’re all happy to have Jeune back on island teaching our children.
Every part of Jeune emanates patience and kindness, which is what we all look for in a teacher, a molder of a community’s young minds. So it’s no wonder she was nominated for the State Teacher of the Year (in this case state refers to territory) in 2015, an honor that Jeune attributes to her unorthodox teaching methods, and those that led her to the district position at the Department of Education.
“I was going from classroom to classroom, I loved helping teachers and helping them improve their craft… I loved my job!” But that same enthusiasm doesn’t lag when she tells us how happy she is to be back at Sprauve. “I am where I am supposed to be right now,” she said. And we couldn’t agree more.
Challenges abound at Sprauve School, for its students and faculty, and for the children of St. John as a whole. A large portion of classrooms were destroyed in Irma, and Sprauve remained closed until October 16th. And at that time, children were only able to attend school for half days. That is where other governmental and non-governmental groups, like St. John School of the Arts, stepped in.
The School of the Arts has had tuition-free classes all year, from art classes to language classes to singing and performing, and they have been able to take a huge burden from the community as we continue to rebuild, as well as an immense responsibility of caring for and serving the children of St. John. Here, at the School of the Arts, Jeune teaches a Caribbean Movement class, as well as one called Acting for Radio, TV, and Film.
As her daughter Melania practices her moves in the background with incredible grace, especially for a 7-year-old, Jeune and I discussed the future of Sprauve school: the idea of putting modular classrooms in the ball field so that full-day classes can resume next year (the governor recently announced this would occur within the next few months), the need for students to return to school, and for qualified teachers to fill positions left empty. There are still many kinks to be worked out, but Jeune encourages me. If there are teachers like her, and outside programs and opportunities available to the kids of St. John, we will get through this. She also asked me to let readers know that Sprauve’s principal has an open door policy, and is wonderful, and they encourage anyone who is interested to check out the school for themselves and connect with these children directly. In the meantime, Jeune will continue to work two jobs to ensure that her students have the best opportunities available.
Again, we are all very fortunate to have people like Jeune living here on St. John.
Chelsea Baranowski is a lifelong St .John resident. She owns the popular Lime Inn restaurant in Cruz Bay with her husband Richard. The couple has two adorable young boys.
8 thoughts on “People Profiles: Jeune Provost”
Ms. Provost is amazing! As are many of the teachers at JESS. This has not been an easy year for any of them and they all have done a great job at making the best of what they have to work with. The free classes from the St. John School of the arts have been a blessing. These kids have had the opportunity to try so many new things. My son attends JESS in the morning and St. John School of the Arts in the afternoons. He is thriving in so many ways and I’m pretty sure this will go down as his best school year ever in his book. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of the teachers and staff at JESS and to all of the wonderful teachers and staff at St. John School of the Arts!
Great story. As someone who is working from home today, because NC’s teachers are marching on Raleigh for higher pay and more school funding, I was curious how teacher pay in the VI stacks up against that of teachers in the mainland. Anyone know?
It’s pretty low. I think starting pay is around $32,000/year. And they haven’t had a pay increase since 2010. There are also lots of deductions that make their take home pay considerably less. A lot of the teachers I know here have second, sometimes third jobs. Our public schools have 137+ vacancies right now. It’s a pretty sad situation. http://viconsortium.com/featured/mapp-on-salary-increase-for-teachers-i-cant-say-what-month-and-what-year-well-be-able-to-do-that/
This page has average teacher salary (not starting) by state:
And NPR calculated average salaries by state if you adjust for cost of living:
If the numbers on this site can be trusted, K-12 teachers in the VI make, on average, about $41 – $43K.
Adjusted for cost of living, which is probably comparable to Hawaii, where average salary is around $57K, and you have a number far below any of the US states.
Congratulations, Ms. Jeune Provost, thank you for profiling her, Chelsea! In my 30 plus years teaching, she’s the best, ever! It is both an honor and a privilege to work with her helping students and teachers, including me do better to help make the difference in our children’s lives. Her enthusiasm, patience, talents, purpose and focus are exceptional! Additionally, her family comes first. Wishing her the best always!
Ms. Jeune is the Best of the Best… Best daughter. Best sister, Best wife, Best mother. Best daughter in law , best teacher, Best friend. Her beauty shines from the inside out. She is also an excellent dancer, great cook and an awesome mediator when necessary. May God continue to inspire you. May he guide and direct you, protect and provide your every need and hearts desire. You are a blessing to me and I love you
Jeune – AWESOME JOB cuzzo. Very much agree with your mother in law regarding being the best. Continue all the good hard work that you soo love. It’s been a rough time, but you continue to shine on through. May God continue to bless you and the family. Lots of love, soft hugs and light coming your way.
Mrs. Provost is very amazing. She has a very sweet spirit and always smiling. She gives great advice to all teachers, so they can improve their teaching craft. She is very professional and pleasant. Keep up the excellent work that you are doing. I do missed seeing you at the Curriculum Center, but your family comes first. May God bless you richly.