Jose Antonio Jarvis, philosopher, historian, artist, musician, author, playwright, author, poet, journalist, editor, public servant and educator. An intellectual giant who dedicated his work and life to the betterment of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands for over 40 years. His passion was his classroom, even when he wasn’t there he dedicated his life to finding and implementing new and innovative ways to approach education.
Born on the 22nd of November 1901, Jarvis’s career as an educator began in 1924, when he began teaching at a private school on St. Thomas. Not long after his appointment he accepted a position in the public school system, he taught social studies at Abraham Lincoln School. He left the Lincoln school only to return ten years later than its principal, he remained there for the remainder of his career. Both outside and inside his classroom, Jarvis served as an inspiration to many Virgin Islanders, many of whom he offered financial aid too. Many of these proved to achieve high levels of success which they attest to his influence.
While continuing in his role as an educator, he found time to found the Daily news in 1930, this he did with a friend of his Ariel Melchior Sr. It quickly became the most influential and popular independent newspaper in the Virgin Islands. Jarvis served as the papers’ editor for ten years, he stepped aside in 1940 to focus on other aspects of his writing passion, such as drama, poetry and prose.
Not only a noted educator, he is possibly more famous outside the islands as being the first to write a sociological and historical account of the territory. His book, “A Brief History of the Virgin Islands” was intended as a textbook for high school student who didn’t have a book which told their own history.
One thing we can say for certain, is that if Jose Antonio Jarvis had made the same impact in a major metropolitan country, he would be an internationally recognized name in the field of education, but the Virgin Islanders are eternally grateful that he called their wonderful corner of the world home.