Innovative Educational Tools for Residents at St. John Academic Center


UVI St. John Academic Center staff members (from left to right), Librarian and Program Coordinator Ashley Till, Tech Troubleshooter Shaun Brookes, and tutor and retired teacher Amy Roberts.

ENIGHED — Entering its fifth year of operation, the St. John Academic Center continues to offer easy access to educational resources to the community of St. John.
The St. John Academic Center is a five-year grant operated extension of the University of the Virgin Islands on St. Thomas and St. Croix.

For over 60 registered St. John students attending the University of the Virgin Islands, the center presents them with a quiet place to study and convenient study

The St. John Academic Center utilizes video conferencing. This system allows UVI students on St. John to partake in their classes through video communication in a fashion similar to Skype.

Some of the offered classes include cognitive psychology, communications, marketing, and business management.

The video conference system enables UVI students on St. John to pursue the degree of their choice, while avoiding the arduous commute.

Video conferencing improves student’s schedules by allotting them extra time that can be spent studying, or working a part time job.

“The St. John Academic Center is an important extension of UVI, especially for St. John students. It either eliminates the commute, or relieves the burden a few days a week,” said UVI student Shawana Thomas.

Any technical issues with video conferencing are fixed by the tech troubleshooter Shaun Brookes, who began this position as a work study. Over time he progressed full time into the occupation.

“It [the video conferencing] services not just St. John students, but also St. Thomas students living in East End, and St. Thomas students who work on St. John,” explained Brookes.

The other staff on duty is librarian and program coordinator Ashley Till. With her assistance, the facility also functions as a study lounge for UVI students.
Students are given access to free Wi-Fi, library databases, and a lending library that sports laptops and tablets.

“The center is critical for students on St. John. It allows them to fulfill college requirement with less burden, no commute, and more time for studying and work,” said Till

Student aid in the St. John Academic Center does not just stop at UVI students. High school students are also encouraged to make use of the facility as well.

Through the use of the dual credit program, which allows eligible high school juniors and seniors to start pursuing college credit, some classes are available by video conferencing.

Additionally, high school students are able to use some of the same databases as UVI students.

With the cooperation of retired teacher Amy Roberts, the facility also offers tutoring and college essay consultation to high school students.

“We like to provide outreach that helps students get involved in college, or at least helps move them towards secondary education,” said Roberts.

The benefits of the St. John Academic Center is not just geared toward students, but the community as a whole.

The Preferred User Program passes along the same amenities for students to the community.

By paying a community membership fee, people who are not affiliated with UVI are given access to the Wi-Fi, printing, online databases, and the lending library.
The center also caters to senior citizens by offering some free classes to those who are eligible.

Many seniors also participate in yoga classes taught by librarian Ashley Till.  “Anyone is welcome to come in for a tour and to ask questions,” said Till.

As the current grant for the facility is only available until December, the future of the St. John Academic Center is ambiguous.

“I hope funding will continue, we have various technology available for the community to use,” explained Amy Roberts.

Both Roberts and Till extended their full thanks towards UVI President David Hall. “He really pushed for the innovative center,” they both said.
Current St. John UVI students expressed their thanks towards the center.

“I attended the St. Thomas campus for my bachelor’s degree. It is so convenient to be able to continue by education from the center,” described Katura Tracy. “It provides a friendly helpful staff to help with registering/advising of courses, video conferencing, and more.”

Overall, the St. John Academic Center is a fantastic facility that I hope future students and community members get to experience”, concluded UVI student Shawana Thomas.

The St. John Academic Center is located on the third floor of the Marketplace, and it is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, and it closes at 3:45 p.m. on Fridays.