Story by Celeste Ryan Blyden
Hamlet Canosa, EdD, vice president for Education at the Columbia Union Conference, today announced plans to retire in June after 24 years of service in this territory and a total of 44 for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“My intention was to enter the field of law; however, the Lord had other plans. He led me where He intended, by His grace, and ever since, I’ve had the privilege of serving in education ministry,” he said to conference education superintendents and academy principals gathered this week for the regularly scheduled Columbia Union School Administrators Council meeting at the union headquarters in Columbia, Md. “It has been a blessing to serve with outstanding, effective and caring colleagues in the union office; professional, dedicated, educational leaders at our conferences; and a cadre of outstanding educators whose ministries touch young lives each day in schools across our field.”
Canosa’s career started in the Chesapeake Conference in 1970, and spanned from teaching in a one-room school in the Southern New England Conference and being a missionary teacher in Singapore for the Far Eastern Division to serving as principal of two large Adventist academies in the Pennsylvania and Georgia-Cumberland conferences and leading as a conference education superintendent. He taught at every level of the Adventist educational system—from elementary school to college—and led administratively at the academy, conference and union level.
In 1996 he was elected to serve as the second vice president of education for the Columbia Union, and, at this point, is believed to be the longest-serving education vice president in North American Division history.
Canosa leads a six-person team that provides administrative leadership and support to the union’s 81 elementary and secondary schools; serves as a trustee on the board of Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.; writes and revises education policies for the union; and works with conferences to spearhead initiatives, conduct evaluations and navigate challenges. During this quinquennium, his team has worked closely with early childhood education programs that operate independently and provided them with training, support and curriculum. He also helped several conferences work through the difficult experience of closing failing schools.
Canosa says his favorite part of the job is praying for the more than 500 educators who serve in the Columbia Union. “Every week we pray for a group of our teachers and send each a letter so they know they are being supported spiritually,” he says. “We’ve prayed for every teacher across our union, every year for 20 years.”
Dave Weigley, president of the Columbia Union Conference, calls Canosa a legendary leader. “Dr. Canosa has been a stalwart for education in our field, providing a steady hand during two decades of change and challenge. He helped the church navigate the needs of new generations, new times and a new era of technology, and we will surely reap the blessings of his dedication to Adventist education in eternity.”