Iconic St. Thomas Educator, Businesswoman Yvonne Milliner George-Bowsky Passes

In honor of her contributions, the Peace Corps Elementary School on St. Thomas was renamed Yvonne E. Milliner-Bowsky Elementary School in her honor in 2005. (Photo from the Department of Education)

St. Thomas icon Yvonne Milliner George-Bowsky has died. Bowsky taught in St. Thomas schools before becoming a well-loved principal for many years, an insular superintendent, then holding a variety of high government positions. In retirement, she continued to serve the community as a volunteer.

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. commemorated her passing in a statement, saying, “The Virgin Islands has lost an icon and pioneer in the advancement of our territory’s early childhood education with the passing of Principal Bowsky. A long-time educator, some of her many achievements include the principalship of the then-Peace Corps Elementary school in the 1970s, where she transformed the abandoned facility into an elementary school with a reputation for its high educational standards.”

“Yolanda and I extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and all in the Virgin Islands community who are mourning her loss,” Bryan said.

In 2005, the Legislature honored Bowsky for her contributions by renaming the Peace Corps Elementary School for her. According to that legislation, Bowsky was born in Road Town on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, received her primary education on the island of Jost Van Dyke and at the age of 14 was appointed to the position of pupil teacher. She graduated from Morris High School in the Bronx, New York. Then she got her bachelor’s and master’s in secondary education at the New York University School of Education. Bowsky continued her post-graduate studies at the University of Hartford and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In 1966, Bowsky began her teaching career at the Joseph Sibilly Elementary School and in 1967, joined the Adult Basic Education Programs at the Joseph Gomez and J. Antonio Jarvis schools and the Adult Continuing Education Program at the Charlotte Amalie High School.

In 1968, as a result of the shortage of teachers at the time, Bowsky took on a full schedule as a teacher at Charlotte Amalie High School, without receiving compensation, while completing the requirements for certification as a secondary mathematics teacher.

In 1972, she became assistant principal of Ulla Muller Elementary School and in 1973 was appointed principal of the Peace Corps Elementary School.

She is credited for being instrumental in transforming the site abandoned by the U.S. Peace Corps into a viable elementary school, which relieved the double sessions at the Joseph Gomez and Joseph Sibilly schools.

During her tenure as principal Bowsky continued to contribute as a part-time instructor to the teacher-education program and the math skills programs, at the College of the Virgin Islands for 15 years.

As president of the St. Thomas-St. John Administrators Association, Bowsky reportedly united the educational administrators on all three islands and led both associations to their first negotiated two-year labor contract in 1980.

In October 1987, Bowsky was appointed special assistant to Gov. Alexander Farrelly and in that job, with oversight for federal and local audits, she assisted in the reorganization of the Bureau of Audits and Control and helped to create the position of V.I. inspector general.

In 1989 Bowsky was appointed the insular superintendent of schools for the St. Thomas-St. John District, a position she held until her retirement in December of 1994, and led the effort for the re-accreditation of Charlotte Amalie High School and for the accreditation of Ivanna Eudora Kean High School.

Since her retirement in 1994, Bowsky was honored by many organizations, including the Peace Corps Elementary School, the Democratic Party, the Educational Administrators Association and others. She also served as a member of the Inner Wheel Organization and as a trustee on the Government Employees’ Retirement System board.