Education for life


Carole Tasker has recently been named associate director for Adventist Education at the South Pacific Division (SPD). 

What is your background in education? 

My life philosophy has always been: find a need and fill it.

I started as a student missionary teaching at Lalovaea Adventist School in Samoa, between years studying education at Avondale. It’s now called Samoa Adventist College. I recently visited—it was wonderful to see how the school has matured. There was even one teacher who I taught with in 1974, who is still teaching there! My year as a student missionary gave me a taste for overseas service. 

While we lived in New Zealand, I taught at a state school. When we moved to the Solomons (1983–89), I taught at two of our schools there—Kukudu Adventist High School and Betikama Adventist High School. After my husband and I completed graduate degrees, we were called to go to Pacific Adventist College to teach. During that period, PAC became Pacific Adventist University.

You received a PhD from Andrews University in religious education, focusing on personal spirituality. Were you sponsored?

Not at first. David, my husband, was sponsored to do his PhD. Fortunately, Carole Ferch-Johnson, who was then Women’s Ministries director, organised the funds to cover the costs of starting my PhD studies, for which I am eternally grateful. I promised God to continue studying as long as He gave me energy to work and study, and the funds. So I was working 30 hours a week, we still had two teenagers living at home, and I was taking two classes a semester. I wasn’t bored! 

Three years later, Dr Nemani Tausere, who was the SPD education director at the time, visited Andrews. During his visit, we talked about my studies, and he agreed to put a request in to the SPD to sponsor the remainder of my PhD studies. 

How did you feel when you first were called “Dr Tasker”?

I don’t even remember it. I wasn’t focused on titles, and I’m still not. The PhD was about becoming better equipped to serve God. 

How have you used your knowledge? 

We went back to PAU, and I served as dean of the School of Education for six years. We were happy at PAU, and planned to stay until the Lord came. But then the General Conference called us to go to the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in the Philippines. This gave us wonderful exposure to Asia, as, in addition to the Philippines, we also taught at the AIIAS satellite campuses in Burma, Taiwan and Korea. And last year, I taught a class for AIIAS in Chile, South America. 

When David was called back to the SPD, what happened to your career?

Well, it took a new direction. I served part-time in a position endeavouring to nurture and inspire pastors’ spouses and their families. My life philosophy has always been: find a need and fill it. There is a substantial need serving pastors’ families, so I found the work enjoyable. I admit, though, it was hard to leave the classroom. I love teaching and I love mentoring students—encouraging them, praying together, all that goes with being an Adventist educator. I also missed living on a campus—that sense of community. So, coming back to the education field now, feels very much like coming home.

As I travel around the Pacific, many of the leaders, principals and teachers I meet were once my students. It’s wonderful to see the impact that Adventist tertiary education is having on the lives of the next generation of church leaders, and how those leaders are educating and empowering their communities.

What is your vision for Adventist education?

Most importantly, I want to ensure all our teachers are passionate for God. It’s a matter of putting first things first. Unless teachers have a personal connection with God before they start their day in the classroom, their work will never be supernatural. I believe God wants to walk with every single teacher and student to ensure they reach their full, God-given potential. 

I want every student to live out God’s plan for them. That plan might be very different than any of us expect. My life’s journey has been nothing like I expected, but it has been very satisfying.