About the Author

Daniella JEFFRY

was born in Marigot, Saint-Martin from Saint-Martin parents who sent her at the age of 4 with her eldest brother Antonio to stay in Basse-Terre with their aunt, who had just settled in Guadeloupe with her Guadeloupean husband, the former court-clerk-notary on duty in Saint-Martin. She started elementary education in Basse-Terre at the Boarding School of Versailles held by the St. Joseph of Cluny nuns as a day boarder, then attended junior and senior high school at the Lycée Gerville Réache, where she obtained her classical Baccalaureat first part majoring in Latin and Greek, and the following year her Baccalaureat second part majoring in Experimental Sciences, at the age of 17.
She returned to Saint-Martin, where she became an auxiliary teacher for two years, successively in the 1st grade at the Girls' School in Marigot, then at the adjoining Junior High School, where she taught English, biology, music and physical education. Her father proposed to send her to the United States for her higher education, and the following summer vacation he sent her to spend at her aunt's in Long Island, New York, but Daniella Jeffry came back convinced that she preferred to continue her studies in Paris, as her last French-Latin-Greek teacher at the Lycée had recommended to her. All preparations were on the way during this second year for her to be admitted at the Catholic student boarding centre of the Rue des Bernardins at the Quartier Latin in Paris. When the time came, she left from Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe) on board the transatlantic liner "the Colombie" for a 10 day trip to Paris, where she attended her undergraduate studies at the Sorbonne. At the boarding centre called "Foyer Carrefour", she met young women from all over the world: North and South America, Antilles and Haiti, Africa, Madagascar, Asia and Europe, a rewarding human experience which has determined her future choices and her life project. It is in this environment that was born her desire to research the history of her island was born, while taking advantage of the intellectual and cultural life of Paris and her travels in France, England, Belgium, Germany, and Italy during the vacations, organized by the "Foyer Carrefour", where she resided for the 3 prescribed years, then was transferred for her 4th year to another catholic student boarding centre at 103 rue de Lille, not far from the House of Representatives. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with honours, having majored in English teaching at the end of those four years. She only came back to her native island once in the 1963 summer, then at the end of her studies that summer before going to Madagascar to meet her Malagasy fiancé to get married. While going about her family and professional life, Daniella Jeffry worked as a teacher of English in the Senior High classes of an institution held by the Brothers of the Christian Schools in Tananarive. She made time to enrol at the University of Madagascar to prepare a Master's Certificate and carry out her research for her master's dissertation. Her choice fell on Martin Luther King. She continued life as a student by going regularly to the American Library in Tananarive and perfecting her practical training as a teacher at the "British Council", which was in charge of the training of teachers of English in Tananarive.
Her two sons, Joseph and Jean-Marc were born there and after living 9 years in Madagascar, she returned to her native island in 1974. She was appointed as Auxiliary Teacher of French for two years at the Vocational School that had just opened that year, then she was assigned a permanent post as High School teacher of English at the Marigot Junior High School. Meanwhile for ten years, she would fly over to the neighbouring island of Anguilla to conduct the oral French examination for the Cambridge General Certificate of Education at the Valley Secondary School. For 4 school years, she was assigned to teach English for the newly started Senior High classes attached to the Junior High School of Saint-Martin. At the same time in this perspective, the Vice-Chancellor of the Antilles-Guyane Educational District commissioned her to write a report on the creation of Senior High school level for Saint-Martin. As early as 1983, she was appointed Teacher's Trainer by the Regional Pedagogical Inspectorate of English in order to conduct training sessions for teachers of English in Saint-Martin and in Guadeloupe. In 1989, she swore in as a Translator/Interpreter to the Court of Appeal of Basse-Terre (Guadeloupe). From 1991 and until she went on early retirement in 2000, she initiated two 1st and second form classes to a very successful program of bilingual teaching over two years, adapted to the Saint-Martin students. For two years she was appointed pedagogical adviser in order to assist trainee teachers. She was admitted first on the list of integration into the body of certified teachers in the Educational district of Guadeloupe. At the end of her 37 years of service in education, she was awarded the title of Knight in the Order of Academic Palms in 2001 by the French Ministry of Education in Paris.
Together with her professional career, Daniella Jeffry got involved in the associative, cultural, and political life of the island. She was able then to dedicate herself to her favourite pass-time which is to document the oral history and to research the history of the people of Saint-Martin. This led her to share her passion with the public and as early as 1981 she was invited to lecture on history, culture, and traditions of Saint-Martiners, and she published articles on the problems plaguing the island's society during the 1980's. At the creation of the first Cultural Centre in Sandy Ground, she functioned as vice-president of the Board, then president until she resigned to devote her time more directly to her writings on the changes that were overturning the islanders' lives. She was a candidate for the 1981 general council elections, then in 3rd position on a list in Guadeloupe for the first regional council elections. The aim of her candidacy was to bring to the attention of the electors the dangers of economically developing the island without the participation of its inhabitants. She advocated the creation of a Senior High school to avoid teenagers leaving their family environment too early, and the diversification of the economy by encouraging the growth of agriculture and cattle raising, among other issues.
In 1990, the mayor approached her to take part in the creation of a 7 member association called the St. Martin's People Consensus, whose mission was to study the possibility of an institutional change for Saint-Martin. She was responsible for compiling the result of this study and other studies carried out during that decade in a 400 page book, A Status for Saint-Martin published in 2002. In 2001 she was elected Municipal Councillor in the opposition party, United Saint-Martin Movement (USM). In 2003, she published her first history book, 1963, A Landmark Year in Saint-Martin. In December 2010 L’Harmattan Editions published her recent book Déstabilisation sociétale dans la Caraïbe française, and in March 2011 the English version, Destabilization in the French Caribbean, was launched. She is now publishing the second edition of her first history book in two separate full-color versions with Xlibris.
Daniella Jeffry, a mother of 4, is continually militating in favour of the survival of her cultural heritage, as a consequence of an uncontrolled development, since St. Martiners have become an oppressed, repressed and excluded minority on her 37 square mile native island.