Keith Warner

WARWICK- Warwick, North Dakota, in Benson County, with the population of 66 has seen an uptick in growth. With the addition of seven residents the population is now 73. Warwick received the honor of being selected KVRR’s Small Town of The Week on January 12, 2021. Warwick has a bar, gas station and school.

With a teacher shortage throughout the state, finding teachers for small towns is very difficult. Like many small towns the Warwick School District found itself with five teaching positions and no candidates. The student population in pre-school through high school is around 250 students.

Meet the teachers:  (left to right)
Steve Navigar,    Middle School Language Arts and Reading
Feljean Jacaban Indig,    Middle School Reading and Science
Dianne Paula Ortega,    Elementary intervention
Christen Hoyo-A (Jeru Ten),   Math and Stem
Abel Sacatani,   High School Business

Last spring Warwick School began the process of interviewing and completing paperwork to bring in teachers from other countries. The team interviewed eleven possible candidates for various positions. It was decided to hire six teachers from the Philippines. Then COVID happened. No one was able to travel to the US. This type of recruitment is not an easy task. In July the Superintendent, through a contact at Mandaree School, found out about a possible candidate. (Christen Hoyo-A) When the Superintendent reached out to the candidate, Three more replied! Thankfully, the school was able to hire all four teachers.  They had been teaching in Arizona for over a year. All are teaching under a J-1 Program Visa for teachers.  They were ready for a change.  Looking for a less hectic area, better working conditions, higher salaries, and cheaper living expenses, they chose Warwick. In December, the travel ban was lifted. Relationships had been maintained with the original six candidates and Warwick was still in need of a business teacher. Amazingly, the school was able to hire Abel Sacatani.  He arrived in North Dakota mid-January.

Although the weather is the extreme opposite of what they are used to, they are acclimating to the conditions. They are amazed by the snow and share many winter experiences with friends and family back home. The low temps are another matter.  Aside from their winter experiences, in their spare time they are working to obtain their North Dakota Drivers License.

The three women returned to the Philippines over Christmas break. Christen returned with her husband and young son. This may be a trend because rumor has it that Feljean and Paula have families back in the Philippines they may bring over.

 All are fluent in English and they are very knowledgeable with computer programs and that has proven to be very useful with changes in delivering instruction to students due to COVID-19. They enjoy working with the students at Warwick and find the warm atmosphere ,staff, and administration to be very supportive and inclusive. They are enjoying the friendliness of the North Dakota people. We are lucky to have them join the ranks of teachers in North Dakota. 

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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