The path forward for Helen Palacio started with a conversation on the Boca del Rio bridge when she was 7 years old.
Ms. Francis (Wilson) was recruiting students for the school that she and her husband Vernon were working to open in the fall of 2006. Helen’s mom, Ms. Shirlene, was looking for a different educational setting for Helen. “I had previously attended another school and had experienced bullying. I did not want to go back.”
That conversation on the bridge was the first step on a path that will see Helen return to Holy Cross Anglican School as a teacher intern in the fall of 2024. “I wanted to pursue teaching from when I was really young. A Holy Cross volunteer saw that I liked helping the other students and asked me to be a classroom helper for Vacation Bible School.”
Helen was one of the original 64 students to attend Holy Cross. She remembers sitting on the floor in the first few months at the school as desks were yet to come. She recalls the first day that food was offered to the children, “waffles and chocolate milk for breakfast, watermelon for snack and chicken with rice for lunch. I was so happy to be at school!”
“Ms. Francis and Mr. Vernon were a Godsend to this island. At other schools I experienced bullying and that was a no-no with Mr. Vernon. The Wilsons were like a mom and dad to the children at Holy Cross. I am truly thankful for the Wilsons!”
Helen shared that at Holy Cross if she struggled with her lessons the teachers would encourage her to stay after school and help her to understand. “They were wonderful role models!”
Upon her graduation from Holy Cross Helen attended and graduated from San Pedro High School with the benefit of a scholarship arranged through Holy Cross. She started 6th Form at St. John’s Junior College in San Pedro and then Covid hit the island putting her studies on hold. Currently, Helen is attending Ecumenical Junior College and is on track to graduate with her teaching degree in the spring of 2024. She married in 2020 and has a 2-year-old daughter. Helen credits her mom, the teachers, and administrators at Holy Cross with instilling a strong work ethic and valuing close family relationships.
Through the years Helen has maintained a support network at Holy Cross. She says that she has depended on Ms. Elsy (Wity) and Ms. Diane (Martinez) to provide council and encouragement on her educational journey. Ms. Diane wrote a recommendation for Helen to obtain her teaching license.
“I can’t wait to get back home (Holy Cross) because I know that I will be supported as a new teacher”