The History

WITU was officially established June 22, 1973 as the “Vakvereniging Onderwijzend Personeel Bovenwindse Eilanden”. The statutes of the union were approved by Federal Ordinance dated June 25, 1974 by Head of the Central Bureau of Juridical and General Affairs w.g. G.R. Hermans.

The first President of the Teachers’ Union was a teacher originally from Holland named Mr. Verbrood and affectionately known by his colleagues as “Deegje”. 

He was then followed by the first Antillean teacher President  Mr. William Marlin who was an elementary teacher at the St. Joseph Catholic School and became the grade 6 teacher and the Principal of the Leonald Connor School on the Union road in Cole Bay.  Mr. William Marlin went on to become a politician and served St. Maarten in many different capacities over the years. Contact was also established with the teachers on the island of Saba and St. Eustatius on their membership in the union.

Shortly after, the union became dormant until a Steering Committee was established to resurrect it in 1989.

The original name of the union was Vereniging Onderwijzend Personeel op de Bovenwindse Eilanden, which translated into English means Association of Teachers of the Windward Islands.

After the union was resurrected, a competition was held among the teachers to come up with a name to reflect the movement for English to be the language of Instruction. It was decided that the union should have an English name.

This competition was won by Oranje School teacher Ms. Diana Johnson.  Since 1990 the union has been known as WITU. The President then was Mr. Martinus Vincent de Lain, Secretary General Mrs. Solange Duncan-Trona, Treasurer Mr. Joseph Raphael Hubert Rogers, Vice President Mr. Alvin Rombley, Assistant Treasurer Mrs. Claudette Charles-Hassell, Boardmembers Ms. Sheila Helmen, Diana Johnson,Richard Woods, Bernadette Richardson-Gumbs. Public Relations Officer Mr. Henri Hugo Brookson. Newsletters were prepared and send to the members to inform them on the points and grievances. Some of these were: -equal pay for equal work, vacation allowance, cost of living adjustment, medical  testing for permanent service and pension fund, payment of the salary one day before the last working day.

After that, the union went dormant again in 1992 until 1994, when present President Mrs. Claire Elshot-Aventurin was elected in January 1994. As the first female President she had the support of other members such as Mr. Julian Lynch, Mr. Rudolphe Samuel, Mr. Robert Rawlins, Mr. Dennis Jeoffrey, Miss Diana Windefelde, Miss Dorca Lesi.

The union has been operating fully since that time with different teachers serving as board members in different functions. WITU is grateful for the contribution made by Julian Lynch, Rudolphe Samuel, Dennis Jeoffrey,Dorca Lesi, Roberto Arrindell, Gabrielle Marlin, Oralie Cornelia-Boirard,Candyta Richardson, Miranda Arlene Lake, Robert Rawlins, Diana Windefelde, Henny Ten Wolde, Antonio Aventurin, Gloria Boxill,Corinne Lejuez-vanPutten, Roxsana Pantophlet, Patrick Rohan and Silvy Ravenberg, for their contribution and working relationship with the President, Mrs. Claire Elshot-Aventurin who have worked tirelessly in making WITU a vibrant organization in defending the rights of the teachers.