East Timor first graders displaying six classroom bibles donated by an Adventist school in California. (Stephanie Haddad / SSD)

Adventist News

East Timor’s First Adventist School Seeks Teachers

Student missionaries are needed as enrollment surges.

The first Seventh-day Adventist school in East Timor is seeking teachers after an unexpected surge in enrollment.

The Timor-Leste Adventist International School, the first Adventist elementary school on the small Southeast Asian country bordered by Indonesia, had planned to enroll about a dozen children when it opened last September. But it now has 35 students and a waiting list for more.

“We hoped and prayed for students, but with limited resources and temporary classrooms, we wondered how many people would choose to register their children,” principal Mai-Rhea Whitty said.

So teachers put up signs all around East Timor’s capital, Dili, and handed out information at a nearby shopping center before the first day of school on Sept. 28. The phone calls started to pour in.

“With so much interest, we realized we would need to open a second English preparation class or we would find ourselves turning students away,” Whitty said in a statement. “Stepping out in faith, we made plans to offer a second class and [now] both classes are almost filled to the limit.”

Read First Adventist School Opens in East Timor

  • A view of the Timor-Leste Adventist International School in Dili, East Timor. (Mai-Rhea Whitty / SSD)

  • A kindergarten class taught by Janette Lonoza is the largest in the school. (Mai-Rhea Whitty / SSD)

English is needed to enter first grade, which is only taught in English. The school currently offers only preschool, first grade, and English preparatory classes. It hopes to add second grade next year and additional grades in the following years, allowing it to become a full-fledged elementary and secondary school.

With continued growth expected, the school faces a teacher shortage next year.

“As we look forward to the next school year, we will need to add at least a grade two class to enable our current students to move forward,” Whitty said. “We would also like to offer our multi-grade class to the community by making it a full-day class covering all the subjects. To make all this possible, we will need two to three new teachers to cover all the classes.”

The school, a recipient of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering that will be collected by Adventist churches worldwide on Sept. 26, hopes to recruit student missionaries to meet those needs.

The Adventist Church has struggled to rebuild in East Timor, also known as Timor-Leste, since the country gained independence in 2002. Twenty-five years of war had left only six members out of nearly 100. Today the church’s Timor-Leste Mission has two ordained pastors, a main church in Dili, four church companies, and seven branch Sabbath Schools.

Timor-Leste Mission is part of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, which has 1.2 million members in 14 countries.

To apply to teach at the Timor-Leste Adventist International School, visit the school’s website tais.edu.tl/support or the Adventist Volunteers website for the elementary teachers or kindergarten and ESL teachers.

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