Education

It relaxes and frees

March 26, 2014

The world is full of a whole lot of people who could be classified as perpetual worriers, people who are forever worrying about their problems, even worrying about things which haven't even happened yet, but which they are forever anticipating might happen. Of course, by constantly worrying about what may or may not happen which could be detrimental to one's progress in life, a person actually attracts unfavorable conditions into their life. That's right, as I remind everyone again and again, the universe in which we presently live is governed by a set of universal laws, likewise with our individual life. One of these universal laws is the law of attraction which states "We attract toward us people, circumstances and events in accordance with our thinking." So, what we worry about eventually becomes a reality in our life.
So, how can we avoid falling into this deadly trap of getting uptight and worrying about what may happen in the future? Well, how I do it is by meditating and giving the whole matter, whatever it is to God. That's right, we all need to learn, that during times of stress, of uncertainty, we need to let go and let God handle the matter.
Now incidentally, to the spiritually immature people, this is not a method of refusing to deal with the matter, the problem ... .oh no, it's simply invoking the assistance of a higher power whom we know will indeed assist us in solving our problem with a wonderful creative solution. When we consistently do this, follow this sensible course of action, it will literally set us free. Yes indeed, as today's title puts it, it relaxes and frees.
As all of my regular readers will be aware of, one of my all-time favorite sayings is everything is in divine order. Yes it is! So, once we accept this spiritual concept, we will fully understand, that this line of sensible thinking applies at all times even when everything appears to be going terribly wrong in our lives. Everything really is in divine order. It's for our overall, ultimate good.
For example, sometimes we may be pursuing a course of action which may not be in our overall best interests. When this happens, perhaps something needs to go terribly wrong in order to awaken us to the dangers of the course we have chosen to pursue. So, this is what divine order is all about, and when we get this concept deeply imbedded in our consciousness, we'll fully understand, that it does indeed relax and free us, in no uncertain terms.
o Think about it!

Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com. Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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GGYA post steady annual growth
GGYA post steady annual growth

March 24, 2014

Registration in the Governor Generalís Youth Award picked up pace in 2013, finishing up three percent ahead of 2012 figures, according to data released during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held over the weekend at Government House...

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VAT team addresses Oakes Field Primary PTA
VAT team addresses Oakes Field Primary PTA

March 20, 2014

Adel Gay (left) and Hugh Chase (right), members of the Value Added Tax (VAT) implementation team outlined the details of VAT, why it was chosen over alternatives and a laundry list of breadbasket...

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Building teacher confidence and competence

March 19, 2014

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has taken steps to ensure that the $4.2 million invested in information communication technology (ICT) in public schools throughout the country achieves its objective of equipping students to participate in a globally competitive and technological world. A Tech Round Robin training workshop was held for public and private school teachers recently at the T. G. Glover Primary School on Horseshoe Drive.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald told the 120 teachers that it was critical to have qualified teachers in every school who are able to give the ICT tools purpose as there are still some teachers who were hesitant about using technology in their lessons. He said the Tech Round Robin was necessary to provide exposure and understanding of modern and emerging instructional technology tools.
Another objective of the workshop was to build the confidence and competence of educational leaders and teachers through exposure to technology integration.
"I like using the whiteboard because my teacher can download lessons right on the board and we can participate more," said T.G. Glover sixth grade student Malique Smith.
Some of the benefits the ministry hopes students would derive from the effective integration of technology in schools included them taking greater ownership of their learning; improved academic performance and being more engaged, reenergized and more motivated to learn. It is also anticipated that disruptive behavior, absenteeism, and dropout rates would diminish.
Held under the theme "Understanding How ICT is Transforming Education", the two-day forum was organized by the INSPIRE (Investing in Students and Programmes for the Innovative Reform of Education) Unit of the ministry headed by Dr. Karen St. Cyr and Faye Bascom, the ICT coordinator.
Funded by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank, the project is the largest and most successful technology initiative undertaken to date by the government of The Bahamas.
From August 2012 to December 2013, the INSPIRE project has infused significant technology into 76 primary through secondary public schools and upgraded 100 percent of all junior and high school computer labs along with supporting many specialized areas within the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
James Griffin, principal of Lauderdale Lakes Middle School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, told the educators during the forum to "dream the impossible" if they wanted to advance in the technological world. He spoke to them about his experiences with using ICT to transform schools under his leadership from failing schools to schools where students realized significant improvement in their academics and were motivated to learn.
Griffin said that although he has secured hundreds of thousands of technology equipment for his schools, he learnt that if teachers did not embrace his vision, the investment was futile and prohibitive to change.
He said he overcame the problem by networking with another school that had successfully integrated technology into their curriculum. Through virtual teaching sessions with his institution and the other school, he said the result of the networking was his teachers and students developed a greater appreciation for technology.
Griffin told the Bahamian educators that his initial success with networking with a school in his district led him to explore a similar opportunity with a school in the United Kingdom. And that the arrangement allowed the students in his school in Florida to learn the same lessons the same time as a class in Britain. He said such an arrangement could address The Bahamas' shortage of specialized teachers and even the global limitation of specialist teachers.
"Technology will allow the best pre-calculus teacher, or any other teacher, to teach multiple classes in The Bahamas and around the world. There will be no need for a physical teacher with technology at our disposal," said Griffin.
While the education ministry focused on teacher training, Griffin also recommended that training should include students since they are able to grasp technology faster and without the use of a manual.
The Florida-based principal said it was his desire to be the "modern day Martin Luther King Jr." in education in Florida that drove him to lobby for change in his schools. He was the recipient of the Florida Principal of the Year Award.
Representatives from Promethean, manufacturers of active whiteboards, were also at the workshop to demonstrate the latest ICT tools for schools.
Timothy Pinder, a sales and support representative with the Armoury Company, the local distributor of the active whiteboards, showcased a new ICT learning tool, the Active Table, which was a hit with T. G. Glover students.
Pinder noted that a teacher was able to assign six students to work together at a table and later to access their literacy, science and mathematical skills from the feedback the table provided.
Immediately after the tables were programmed, students were excitedly playing educational games, performing tasks and using tablets and cell phones.
Malique said she preferred learning with technology because it is faster and more interesting.
"Technology makes learning fun," said the sixth grade student. It was a sentiment echoed by her peers Kendra Phillipe, Ian Ingraham and Steven Whymns.
Also presenting at the workshop was Roshekia Rolle, a Bahamian who teaches at Lauderdale Lakes Middle School and Allison Papke, a graduate assistant at University of South Florida.

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Developing the whole child

March 19, 2014

Four years ago, members of the Rotary Club of Nassau volunteered to read to students at the Stephen Dillet Primary School. Every Wednesday in an effort to cultivate a love for reading among the students, professionals from all walks of life gathered at the school on Wulff Road and Windsor Lane with books and big smiles for the students. The efforts led to the Rotarians adopting the school in 2013 and expanding their services to the 820-strong student body.
Today, the Rotarians continue to demonstrate their commitment to the development of the students, as other programs to enhance the students' quality of life and learning experiences evolved.
To promote healthy children and families, the civic group held two vision screenings this school year during which they administered eye tests to 225 students of which 45 were referred to an optometrist and 35 provided with glasses paid for by the club.
The Rotarians also held a diabetes screening for students and parents to detect the presence of the common non-communicable disease in the school and associated community. Additionally, they held a forum that featured a special educator with experience in testing and identifying learning disabilities who advised parents on how to improve their children's academic performance.
Two years ago, the club started supplementing an existing breakfast program at the school. Meals were provided by the school two or three days a week. Rotarians filled the void on the remaining days when breakfast was not provided by the school. They also took time out at least twice a month to serve the meals and interact with the students. Without the Rotarians' assistance some students at the school would not receive a meal.
"Our motivation is to ensure that students, whose parents cannot afford to give them a meal, receive one so they can be equally equipped as their classmates to listen and learn," said La-Paige Gardiner, the club's president,
Part of the Rotarians' mission at their adopted school is teaching students to give back regardless of their circumstances. Stephen Dillet's Early Act Club, the primary school arm of Rotary, has distributed food in the Mason's Addition community and joined other clubs in a clean-up of Yamacraw Beach.
"Our hope is that the students develop a strong sense of community service where they can look beyond their own circumstances and needs, and recognize the needs of others and try to find ways to assist those in a similar situation," she said. "We are happy that we have been able to do all that we have for the children and are even more encouraged by the Minister of Education's support of our club's involvement in the school. Last October, Minister (Jerome) Fitzgerald read the story of 'The Mixed-Up Chameleon' to the grade three class of Ms. Samantha Cartwright."
Stephen Dillet School principal Sheila Scavella and Guidance Counsellor Ryan Barnett have embraced the partnership as they say it advances and supports the learning environment and the growth of students.
Sixth grade students Curtrinique Cash and David Rolle are members of the Rotaract Club at Stephen Dillet. They said that their affiliation with the Rotary Club of Nassau has done a lot for them. Curtrinique has participated in walk-abouts delivering gift bags of food to people in the Mason's Addition community.
"I enjoyed delivering gift bags to people. It helped me to realize that there are people less fortunate than me," she said.
"When we delivered the gift bags, we told them that they were gifts from God We also prayed with them and left them a sticker to remind them of our visit," s he said.
David said his involvement with Rotaract has helped him to develop his leadership skills.
"I now see that I can be a leader, and I have built my confidence because of the programs and the people in the Rotary Club," he said.

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Everything is temporary

March 19, 2014

The phrase which is the title of this particular article will bring to mind the fact, that as another well-known phrase puts it, nothing lasts forever. No it doesn't. Now I think that one of the very first lessons which we can all learn from this concept that everything is temporary, that nothing will last forever, is not to get too big for our boots, so to speak when we achieve great things in life.
Let's take a prime minister of a country as an example. When the person is prime minister, they will be in an extremely powerful position with people right, left and center trying to get close to them, who are willing to do their bidding. However, when this person's term in office comes to an end, then that person will either become leader of the opposition in the House of Parliament, or perhaps as in many cases, just become an ordinary citizen again. An excellent lesson to be learnt from today's message is surely to remain humble at all times, and not get too swelled headed, or too big for our britches, as another very descriptive phrase so graphically puts it.
Yet another lesson which immediately comes to mind, is not to get too attached to material things, like great riches, palatial homes, expensive automobiles, yachts, planes, etc. because in time we may, for some reason, have to leave all of these material objects behind us as we enter another phase of our life. Yes indeed, everything is temporary, and I do hope and pray, that this quite sobering thought will bring some much need balance into your life by making you cognizant of the fact, that in time, things will change, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. So, do not place too much importance in material things, but instead concentrate on matters spiritual, which is the really important part of everyone's life.
So D. Paul, is there anything that is of a permanent nature in life, you may understandably query? Yes, the one thing which is permanent throughout the universe, and throughout other universes, throughout the whole of creation is God and eternal life. Yes, God always was, is and will be, and as God dwells within each and every one of us 24/7 at the very center of our being, this then is the real part of us all, and this spirit within us is in fact the one thing which will live on forever, which is eternal.
So, although the life of our physical body is temporary, is limited to a certain number of years, the real you, the real me, the spirit within will indeed live forever as it is eternal. This to me is an exciting thought.
o Think about it!

Visit my website at: www.dpaulreilly.com. Listen to "Time to Think" the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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Honing their skills

March 19, 2014

The two highest performing candidates in the 2013 Electrical Installation and Carpentry national exams will be expanding their knowledge and hone their skills at The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI).
Lamaron Sweeting, a 2013 graduate of South Andros High had achieved the best results in the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) Electrical Installation exam. Oscar Saunders, formerly of Nassau Christian Academy, topped all other candidates nationwide in carpentry.
Lamaron recently collected his acceptance letter to BTVI and is excited to begin his studies toward an associate of applied science degree in electrical installation when summer classes begin on April 28.
"It is important for me to attend BTVI to further my hands-on skills and to apply it to the world of work," said the 17-year-old.
During his three-year study under the tutelage of Errol Coke, Lamaron obtained many skills and is able to install receptacles, switches and breakers. He said he enjoys manual work and electrical installation became his favorite subject.
"I understand it and am able to apply it easily," said the young man who aspires to become an electrical engineer. "The passion I have for the work makes me feel I'm doing it for fun. Time doesn't matter. At the end of the day, I can see what I've done."
Oscar, who has already been enrolled at BTVI for two semesters, said although he is learning the intricacies of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), carpentry comes natural to him.
"I like things that can be done with the wood -- the many possibilities. I make art out of wood," said the 19-year-old who has built a computer desk, towel rack, wine rack and car speaker box.
Oscar gave credit to his teacher, Carl Curry. But he also said he took the time to put in extra work which he said made the difference as the more he did it, he said the better at it he got.
BTVI's Dean of Construction Trades Alexander Darville said it was an honor to have Oscar enrolled at BTVI and Lamaron starting in a few weeks. "It shows how students see BTVI," he said. "We are attracting top students from the technical areas."
Darville said that for many high school students, technical education is a first choice.
"We live in a technical world and BTVI is literally preparing its students for the world of work," he said.

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Lyford Cay International School celebrates Commonwealth Day

March 19, 2014

After learning that the song, "God Bless our Sunny Clime" was sung for the first time as the national song of The Bahamas at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in The Bahamas in 1985, elementary students and guests at Lyford Cay International School (LCIS) had an opportunity to listen to the song. Grade six students at LCIS led an assembly to educate the school's student body about The Commonwealth and to celebrate Commonwealth Day.
After spending several weeks learning about inter-governmental agencies in their Program of Inquiry unit entitled, "How We Organize Ourselves" students shared what they had learned with their schoolmates, parents and teachers. "Students learn so much from their peers," said Head of Elementary, Isadora Blyden. "We are so happy to see an assembly like this come together. We all learned so much about the Commonwealth."
Sixth grade students along with their siblings presented flags from each of the 53 Commonwealth countries during their parade of countries. They also presented informational posters on each country to encourage their peers and teachers to learn more about Commonwealth countries. They played the Bahamian National Anthem on steel drums and gave the history of The Commonwealth, as well as outlined the goals of the Commonwealth for their audience.
The Queen's Annual Commonwealth Day message was also read as part of the special assembly. The national champion rake n' scrape band from Gerald Cash Primary school performed and wowed the crowd with two lively rake n' scrape songs and showed everyone assembled why they have been the national champions for four years in a row.
Commonwealth Day is celebrated around the Commonwealth on the second Monday in March every year. The goals of the Commonwealth are friendship, equality, and diversity. The aim of commemorating Commonwealth Day is to promote understanding on global issues, international co-operation and the work of the Commonwealth to improve the lives of its two billion citizens. The world's largest and smallest, richest and poorest countries make up the Commonwealth and are home to two billion citizens of all faiths and ethnicities -- over half of whom are 25 or under. Member countries span six continents and oceans from Africa to Asia, the Americas, Australia, the Caribbean, and Europe.
"Bahamian culture is a vitally important component of our school curriculum," said LCIS principal Stacey Bobo. "We are an international school but we are located in The Bahamas. We welcome every opportunity to share the incredibly rich Bahamian history with all of our students. Our student body is 40 percent Bahamian, and these students are certainly very proud of their culture. I could see the Bahamians in the crowd smile with pride when they heard how instrumental The Bahamas was in the dismantling of South African apartheid. And when the rake n' scrape started, the Bahamian pride was overwhelming!"
As an international school, LCIS exposes students to many worldwide cultures. The school believes in the sharing of culture as it works to transform its students into global citizens. LCIS students participated in Junior Junkanoo and the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival. They learn Bahamian social studies as a part of their curriculum, and classes experience the local environment through transformational field trips throughout the Bahamian islands.
LCIS students are exposed to Bahamian cultural building blocks like Junkanoo through The Educulture Junkanoo Museum and Junior Junkanoo; art through various trips to the National Gallery, Transforming Spaces and visits to local artists' studios; and the environment through partnerships with The Island School, BREEF and the Clifton Heritage Park as well as special field trips to San Salvador and Andros. They participate in the Bahamian MUN, and they compete athletically in the Bahamas Football Association (BFA), the Bahamas Scholastic Association (BSA), and the Bahamas Swim Federation (BSF) swim meets. They are involved in many local community service ventures including Hands for Hunger, The Bahamas Humane Society, Operation Potcake, Cans for Kids, YesI (tutoring with LCIS student peers in conjunction with football) Adelaide Primary School, and the Stephen Dillet Primary School Enrichment Program.
LCIS fully supports Bahamian students wanting to apply for local scholarships as well.
"Our IB [International Baccalaureate] curriculum is rigorous but we make sure that all Bahamian students have the opportunity to write local examinations including the BJC's [Bahamas Junior Certificate] and BGCSE's [Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education]," said secondary school guidance counselor Judy Reiach. "This makes them eligible to compete for local scholarships. We do not teach either of the BJC or BGCSE curriculums but we provide special dispensation for those students that want to learn the material and sit the exams."
Despite the fact the these curricula are not taught as part of the daily curriculum, LCIS students have shown consistently excellent results with a 95 percent "A" to "C" grade" pass rate in both national exams.

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CR2 and College Ready Bahamas help students become college ready

March 19, 2014

CR2 (College Ready 2), the non-profit arm of College Ready Bahamas (CRB), is now an official partner with the U.S. Embassy. Founded in 2013, CR2 aims to expand tertiary education opportunities to Bahamian students.
There are many opportunities for tertiary education available to Bahamian students -- be it The College of The Bahamas, The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) or international tertiary institutions, there are opportunities for financing tertiary education. Students who prepare and plan early for tertiary education have a higher chance at gaining entrance and scholarship awards. The key is preparation.
CR2 helps students to focus and create a path that makes the student more competitive on the global education stage. Its message to Bahamian students is that college is for anyone who wants to go, and that they can help them find the right fit.
The organization works with colleges and universities worldwide. It also partners with local institutions -- junior and senior high schools, clubs and foundations. The organization thinks of itself as a complement to the invaluable services that junior and high school guidance counsellors perform.
In November 2013, CR2 partnered with the U.S Embassy and hosted College Week Live International Student Day Virtual College Fair which featured over 100 colleges and universities. Students from C.R. Walker School and Mt. Carmel Preparatory were invited to speak with college representatives. In January 2014, CR2 worked along with the U.S. Embassy, the Lyford Cay Foundation, The College of The Bahamas, the Ministry of Education and the College Board for a counsellors training and scholarship forum.
The initiatives of EducationUSA give Bahamian students a great tool with which to navigate the U.S. tertiary education system. We will be able to provide students with the most accurate and current information available due to the network of schools that work along with EducationUSA. Many of EducationUSA services are free, or for a minimal fee.
CR2 works with students through workshops and forums. Students may participate through a membership or can work with individual services. CR2 ensures that its services are either free, or minimally priced, so that as many students as possible may take advantage of the services. The membership provides the student with even more savings. For example, EducationUSA advisors sit with students during the application process to ensure that the scholarship application is completed correctly.
In a workshop setting, the advisors walk students through filling out the application and ensure that they submit all required support documents. Another service CR2 provides is essay critique during which the advisers tell students frequently, that they cannot write their essay for you, but they can help them brainstorm ideas, write a focused outline, and provide professional editing.
CR2's sister company, CRB, focuses mainly on test preparation. CRB provides classes in Scholastic Aptitude Tests and Advanced Placement Calculus. The company also has a foundation math and English course. During the summer months classes are offered in pre-calculus and college writing which are geared specifically towards students who are leaving for college and want to hone their skills.
As the first year of college is a big adjustment they try to ensure that students have exposure to some of the materials they will be expected to know when they get there. The courses make the adjustment smoother and the retention of scholarships easier. CRB is looking to expand into even more test preparation courses.
For CR2 the aim is college readiness -- being academically qualified, financially prepared, and emotionally and socially capable for the rigors of college life. CR2 and College Ready Bahamas have made it their business to help assist more students to be college ready.

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More schools forced to close by dump fire smoke

March 19, 2014

FUMES from the ongoing city dump fire forced the closure of another two schools as winds pushed smoke northeast over New Providence yesterday...

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Teachers discuss effects of VAT

March 13, 2014

A meeting has been held to discuss the issue of VAT with members of the Bahamas Union of Teachers...

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A new day dawns with The Providence School

March 12, 2014

Come September a new learning institute for children in their formative years, known as The Providence School will be an option for parents seeking a different kind of education for their children other than a "black and white book and chalkboard institution", but rather a laboratory where students pursue dreams, cultivate creative ideas and inspire those around them, according to the Head of School, Shacantila Hall-Briggs.
When The Providence School opens its doors it will initially cater to K2 through grade three-aged children in an energetic community where global education, character and service learning are paramount. At the school they aim to develop a more curious, creative, confident, considerate and engaged student to become lifelong learners.
"The moment you set foot on our campus, you'll see and feel our energy: the collective buzz of learning, discovery, creativity, collaboration and enthusiasm," says Hall-Briggs.
The school will offer a varied curriculum derived from common core standards in a hands-on, practical program with small class sizes allowing for more individualized student attention. The head of school says the school was designed to have a small school population and that they are going for 12 students per class as the ideal, but no more than 15, and two classes per grade.
"It will always be a very small school," said Hall-Briggs. "We are determined to hear the voice and meet the needs of each child. Our students and their families will be known by name; what he or she is capable of -- and like you, we won't be satisfied with anything but their best. We know they are capable of becoming more -- more skilled, more confident, more prepared, more cognizant of right and wrong, so we expect more."
The school head said it's been proven time and time again that if the bar is raised, "that students won't meet it, they'll leap over it."
"We want it to be very project-based and hands-on so that students will remember what it is they're doing. And the best way to do that is to have a hands-on approach. So everything that has to do with our curricula is very project-based, hands-on, realistic examples and day-to-day activities so that they can glean whatever they can from it and apply it to everyday life. If it's not something students can use readily, we don't want to harp on it," said Hall-Briggs.
While core subjects like mathematics, language arts, social sciences and religious studies are fundamental to the tenets of the school, the head of school said they are of the belief that there is nothing extra about technology, world languages, fine arts, character and service education and health and wellness. At the school they will be billed as co-curricular activities as vital parts to the school's holistic approach to education.
Balanced education
She said with the balance of academics and their values that promote love, honor, integrity, charity and courage, Providence students will leave their halls with impressive knowledge, faith in themselves and with a commitment to use what they have learnt to make a difference at secondary schools and beyond.
"I give kudos to any child who can be academically grounded, but you also have to be well-rounded. I want to put the emphasis on public presentation. The fact that my [six-year-old] son can speak at the drop of a dime ... you give him a [microphone] and he's ready to roll, I appreciate that. He knows when we get in family meetings that he has to speak and that he has a voice -- we're not going to dumb it down for him. He has to bring himself to the table too, and I think that is what we have to give to our children now. We talk about them being little adults, and try to hush them sometimes and not allow them to speak, but the only way they can speak intelligently is to be well-rounded," she said.
K2 through K5 will be known as the Early Years. Students in first through third grades will be considered a part of the Lower School. Hall-Briggs said a grade would be added each year through sixth grade that would be known as the Upper School.
The education at The Providence School will also take on a global aspect for students beginning at home from as young as K5 being able to travel, initially to the Bahamian islands then branching out into the Caribbean. Opportunities will be available for fourth through sixth graders to visit a different continent every year. When actual travel is not a viable option, Hall-Briggs said students would have opportunities to "cyber-travel" via Skype, You Tube and good old-fashioned handwritten letters.
"At the end of the day I think experience teaches more than any book can," said Hall-Briggs.
Languages will also play an important part in the curricula for all grade levels with Spanish and Mandarin the two options. "Spanish is almost a universal language now and Mandarin is up and coming, and this will be from the little ones straight up to sixth grade."
Students who can contribute
A Providence School the students, she said, will able to think logically, creatively, critically, and will be able to contribute.
"I want them to be recognized for their achievements, but also to bring something to the table, and not just to be one who would sit back. And more importantly, I want when our children apply for secondary school here and abroad, I want them to be able to sit down with the best," said Hall-Briggs. "Unfortunately with our children by the time we get to college, sometimes we realize that we're slower than we thought because we're not exposed. We really are a smart people, and we have a lot to bring, but we have that much to catch up on, when we have children who have been exposed to so many different languages, sports ... the different arts; so one thing I think we have to do is better prepare our children."
As for adding a secondary addition to the school, Hall-Briggs says that is something in the back of her mind, and not something she has "closed the door to." For now the focus is on the formative grade levels.
The school's lunch program headed by her brother, Chef Simeon Hall, will be second-to-none as she doesn't just want her students to eat nutritionally, but to possibly discover if they have little chefs in their bodies from early on. As such the school will have a demo kitchen where they can prepare lunches, with produce grown in the school's garden.
"I think if children grow their carrots or their spinach they'll eat them a lot better than if you go to the market and buy them, and thankfully we have the space to do that," she said. "I really want it to be hands-on, and I want there to be no limits to what we can do with our children."
The Providence School is located on Tonique-Williams-Darling Highway (the old Burger King business office) in a building that is over 9,000-square feet of space and will house a multi-purpose room that can be used as a gym or a meeting space. It will have a science lab, a computer lab, the demo kitchen, garden, school playground and in the near future, a language lab.
All classrooms will have a theme. Hall-Briggs said that for the students it would literally feel like they're leaving home to go to another home.
Comfortable students
Another unique aspect that will make the school attractive to parents wanting something different educationally for their children will be the family atmosphere as Hall-Briggs firmly believes it takes a village to raise a child.
"Outside of parental involvement and selling raffle tickets and coming to have parties, we really want parents to be involved in the school. We want to really give them a voice so that they can be very included in the learning process. Outside from regular conferences and the newsletters, we want to also have parent classes that we have scheduled on the calendar so that they can know exactly what is going on with the school. We really want them involved in the school."
Another distinctive mark of The Providence School will be the uniforms that will allow students to display their creativity and not to be boxed in. Students have the option of wearing a choice of three different polo shirts in orange, kiwi and sea blue for everyday use with khaki bottoms and a striped belt. For formal occasions, like their once-a-month chapel during which they will have community leaders come in to speak to the children, and field trips, boys will don blazers with gingham shirt and khaki pants and girls will wear gingham dresses with navy sweaters.
"I want right down to the faculty to be very comfortable. I want it to be a learning environment, not anything stuffy, so as comfortable as we can be that's what I want. I'm not a huge stickler when it comes to things like that. I want you to look like you're at The Providence School, but I want you to have your own taste, your own style and obviously to be comfortable."
The Providence School has been in the works almost two years, and Hall-Briggs said they are ready for their September launch. They launched the school's website, www.theprovidenceschool.org where people can go and read and the difference about what they're trying to do.
The school's name Hall-Briggs says comes from the fact that the word "providence" means the very direction of the hand of God and because God has been kind to them in the entire process, and a spin on the New Providence as well. The school will host an open house on Saturday, March 15 at the Rainforest Theater between 11 a.m. and 2 a.m.

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Fueling the minds

March 12, 2014

Students at Stephen Dillet Primary School certainly have a story of their own to tell when they become parents.
Many of them can speak to the fact that they were read to by the likes of Dame Marguerite Pindling, wife of the country's first prime minister, Sir Lynden Pindling; Jerome Fitzgerald, minister of education, science and technology; Cynthia "Mother" Pratt, the country's first female deputy prime minister and co-chairman of Urban Renewal and Janet Bostwick, the first woman elected to Parliament.
They were just a few of the more than 30 influential and professional Bahamians from all walks of life to participate in a read-a-thon at the school on Friday, March 7. Former senator and politician J. Henry Bostwick; Canon Basil Tynes, rector of St. Barnabas Anglican Church and Tanya McCartney, managing director at RBC FINCO were also among the many people that donated their time to read to the youngsters.
According to Stephen Dillet School principal, Sheila Scavella, the celebrity read-a-thon was initiated in an effort to motivate students to read more and to improve their reading levels. The school celebrated the month under the theme, "Reading Fuels the Mind".
During her reading session to a first grade class, Dame Marguerite also spoke to the students about her experiences growing up in South Andros -- that people did not have to worry about crime and poverty did not prevent her generation from having manners.
She told them, "Life is like a grindstone, it can polish you up or grind you to dust."
Janet Bostwick shared with students that she is a product of the very same school they attend, and about her growing up on Hogg Island before it was known as Paradise Island.
The book she read to the students was a story about "B Booki and B Rabbi" and a Junkanoo parade at Stephen Dillet Primary School.
Pratt described it as a pleasure to read to the students, particularly since the students were able to meet people who also came up from humble beginnings in the Bain and Grants Town Community.
She said it is programs like the Read-a-Thon that had Bahamian celebrities reading to children that are important because many young students including those at the College of The Bahamas, she said do not know the important leaders of The Bahamas.
Pratt said she would return to the school to assist, especially with the boys, to ensure that they stay on the right path. Pratt read the book "Nelson and Allie" that highlighted the friendship between a boy name Nelson who was HIV-positive and his friend Allie, a girl, and of the many people who tried to break-up the friendship because they did not think Allie should be a friend to someone who had the disease.

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Set your goals and map the course

March 12, 2014

Members of the Junior Achievers (JA) program were encouraged to learn everything they can from JA, as the program prepares them for real-life scenarios and equips them to be productive citizens and business people by Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for Investments in the Office of the Prime Minister.
While K. Darron Turnquest, director of youth in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, challenged them to pursue their purpose and not the dreams of others.
"Do not allow others to dictate your future," said Turnquest. "Set your goals, map your course and create your destiny," he said.
The more than 400 Junior Achievers representing six islands and two countries -- The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos (14 delegates) -- participated in the JA Bahamas' BahamaJac 2014 conference under the Theme "Empowered to Succeed" recently.
During the three-day conference the Achievers toured John Watling's Distillery, Caribbean Bottling Company (Coca Cola), Bahama Mar and paid a courtesy call on Governor General of The Bahamas Sir Arthur Foulkes.
The conference was infused with young professionals who conducted seminars and panel discussions in the areas of medicine, photography, nursing, accounting, law and criminal justice, information technology, culinary arts, public relations, agriculture, marine sciences, banking and education. Additionally, lectures from JA Alumnus Yvette Bethel and Father Ethan Ferguson motivated and educated the students on the art of emotional intelligence and how to keep it real in life.
The conference culminated with a service of praise at Golden Gates World Outreach Ministries, with a sermon by Pastor Trent Davis.
The BahamaJac 2014 conference was the climax of JA Month in The Bahamas. The organization that encourages youth development, education, financial literacy and entrepreneurship also held speech competitions, a sports day, radio interviews and a courtesy call with Prime Minister Perry G. Christie.
o For more information on the company program and how your child can become involved visit facebook.com/jabah242 or www.jabahamas.org.

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Study underway on ocean incursions on pine forests on Grand Bahama

March 12, 2014

There are lingering effects of the last few hurricanes to strike Grand Bahama, and now research is underway to produce a baseline study of the impact of seawater on the pine forests of Dover Sound, Queen's Cove and West End.
Dr. Andrew Moxey, assistant professor of chemistry at The College of The Bahamas' Northern Bahamas campus, recently gave a progress report on his investigations named, "Ocean Incursions into the Caribbean Pine (Pinus caribeae) Forest on East Grand Bahama: Impact on Soil Chemistry".
He was one of the presenters at last week's Bahamas Natural History Conference held at The College of The Bahamas' Oakes Field campus.
According to Dr. Moxey, who is conducting the research along with Zeko McKenzie, despite the very frequent incidences of hurricane disturbance the true impact of these events on The Bahamas' coastal and inland ecosystems remains meagerly studied and minimally understood.
The flooding caused by hurricanes like Sandy, Frances, Jeanne and Wilma washed over the pine forests and the soil and in the aftermath left the vegetation scarred and blighted. Strong winds, ocean surges, and salt spray caused even more devastation. Dr. Moxey acknowledged that there is stark visual evidence of the impact of these severe storms. This is what has prompted the scientific investigations which began in December 2013, following Hurricane Sandy.
"The objectives we sought to accomplish [are] basically to document the current ground cover and vegetation conditions across the study area to generate some baseline data. Meanwhile, we wanted to, as best we could, evaluate and document some of the differences in selected soil chemical properties and in the vegetation profiles between what we are calling for this talk, affected areas and unaffected areas," Dr. Moxey explained.
The researchers are also seeking to investigate the most subtle changes such as the nature and extent of chemical changes in the soil by evaluating soil attributes like PH, conductivity, ion distribution and organic content.
One of the challenges to the study has been the period between the initiation of the research and the passing of the last hurricane -- Sandy in October 2012. Dr. Moxey said there were a number of issues to overcome: by then surge levels had receded, washout occurred to a very large extent due to rainfall and to a certain degree the ground cover had begun to change.
"The affected zones are pretty much what you would expect of a healthy pine forest, but when we began to survey and move into what we think are known surge affected areas we can see a distinct depletion in the chlorophyll level in those areas. The crowns of the trees begin to disappear and it even gets worst. And this is what large sections of the forest look like," Dr. Moxey explained.
He added that the researchers are still quite early in their investigations and strong conclusions have not yet been formed.

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P.A. Gibson Primary School students make history

March 12, 2014

Students from Eleuthera's P.A. Gibson Primary School recently received a treat as they were read to by Bahamian media personality and publicist Arthia Nixon from her children's book "The Magic Grouper and Other Tales."
Although under a winter storm watch in Atlanta, Georgia, thanks to technology, the first through sixth grade students were able to view Nixon, an Eleuthera native on a large screen television. They were able to chat and live video stream before Nixon screen-shared her book so they could all read together.
The live read took place during the school's literacy month which was held under the theme "Reading Accelerates Success" which was actually historic for the school. The live read was the school's first live online session.
"My daughter had a snow day so she was able to join in and witness the way Bahamian students say things in unison, observe their manners and it made quite an impression," said Nixon. "I am incredibly humbled and shed a few tears when the school bell rang for lunch and the children didn't want to move."
Nixon said the experience has inspired her to get back into writing for the children of The Bahamas and that she would be dedicating her next children's book to them as well as sending them copies for the school's library.
"I wanted the students to see a Bahamian writer and as luck would have it, Arthia is a Bahamian writer from Eleuthera who meets many demographics," said the school's literacy coordinator and teacher, Gabrielle Goodman. "Arthia's father was at the school the morning of the reading, her little sister is a student here, plus some of the children have parents who attended school with her and because of that, this is someone we can proudly say is one of our own. It was a great reunion for all of us and at the same time, they were inspired to see someone who started off just like them from such a small place end up overcoming obstacles to be successful. She showed them photos from her magazine with people like Kenedi Treasure, Jacob Latimore, Mindless Behavior, Rupee and other celebrities and diplomats to show them how far her writing has taken her."
The school's principal, Levada Ingraham told Nixon that she had given the students a wonderful example of how far reading can take them.
"We at P.A. Gibson pride ourselves as a school of excellence and by using technology to take this tremendous step, we are showing that we are first class in connecting our students to new and exciting opportunities," said Ingraham.
Nixon resides in Atlanta where she is a consultant, publicist, Caribbean media correspondent, publisher of Rise magazine and the youngest editorial member of The Florida Star and Georgia Star African-American newspapers. Her mentor, the owner of the newspapers, Clara McLaughlin, was the first Black woman to own a television station, at a time when Oprah Winfrey was being nationally syndicated.

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'Use education as a weapon for change'
'Use education as a weapon for change'

March 12, 2014

Dr Hubert Minnis, MP and Leader of the Opposition, was the guest speaker at Government High School's Commonwealth Day observances, held on Monday...

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COB Alumni Society donates to Great Commission Ministries

March 11, 2014

On Tuesday, March 4th, following an outreach exercise, the College of The Bahamas Alumni Society directors made a donation of canned goods to Great Commission Ministries...

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The Honourable Hubert Minnis speaks at Government High School Commonwealth Day Celebration-2014
The Honourable Hubert Minnis speaks at Government High School Commonwealth Day Celebration-2014

March 10, 2014

On Monday, March 10th, 2014, Free National Movement Leader and Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, was the guest speaker at The Annual Commonwealth Day Celebration at The Government High School...

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Bahamian chosen in first class of HBCU All-Stars

March 05, 2014

Bahamian Shantel Braynen has been chosen by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCU) to join its first class of HBCU All-Stars, recognizing 75 undergraduate, graduate and professional students for their accomplishments in academics, leadership and civic engagement.
Currently enrolled at 62 HBCU's, Braynen, a senior at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona, Florida, and the other All-Stars were selected from 445 students who submitted applications that included a transcript, resume, essay and recommendation.
An accounting major, Braynen was shocked when she was contacted by the White House.
"I knew it was a competitive process, but I prayed that I would be chosen. I am grateful to have an opportunity to represent Bethune-Cookman and all HBCU students nationally. And I look forward to serving the community more fully," she said.
Over the course of the next year, the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) All-Stars will serve as ambassadors of the White House Initiative by providing outreach and communication to their fellow students about the value of education and the Initiative as a networking resource. Through social media and their relationships with community-based organizations, the All-Stars will share promising and proven practices that support opportunities for all young people to achieve their educational and career potential.
Braynen, 21, who makes up one of the 45 female strong cohort and the 30 males, will participate in regional events and web chats with Ivory Toldson, deputy director of the WHIHBCUs, other initiative staff and professionals from a wide range of disciplines. They will also have opportunities to engage with other scholars to showcase individual and collective talent across the HBCE community.
"It means a lot to me to have been chosen. I give all the glory to God for the opportunity to be chosen," she told The Nassau Guardian. "It means a lot to be chosen as an ambassador of the White House Initiative to promote education, and because I'm from The Bahamas and I'm at a small HBCU it means a lot to represent all those places and also my family."
She was recommended for the initiative by a professor at Texas A&M University who she met when she visited the school two years ago. Her academics, accomplishments and leadership ability got her accepted.
She is the daughter of Stephen and Rochelle Rolle.
Braynen, who lived in Bahama Sound, Exuma, and attended L.N. Coakley School for two years before departing for university, is a perfect 4.00 grade point average student -- an average she hopes will hold true to form through her graduation in May. She has turned in a perfect record since her freshman year.
"I really value education because I believe knowledge is power, so coming into college I had my goal to stay focused and keep the grades up," she said.
Getting to that point was a process for Braynen. She recalls being a C-average student for most of her formative years until she decided to turn things around.
"In primary school I was the student who just barely got by. In high school I was just a so-so student. The turning point for me was when I had two sisters graduate from high school and I saw how well they did -- one was even a valedictorian, so it was then I decided to take my education a little more seriously." Braynen was a 10th grade student at the time. And when she decided to make that switch, she just did it. She applied herself and saw her grade point average rise to 3.5 and above that easily.
Academically, she is a testament to all children who are struggling and who may not be applying themselves that they can struggle, but that they can make the turnaround as well.
She said it helped that when she went through those years when she did not apply herself to learning that she had parents that drilled into her and her siblings that they wanted them to do well, and that they had sacrificed so their children could receive a good education. Braynen said she knew from a child that she would attend college because her parents always pushed for it. She's just glad she made the turnaround when she did.
Braynen is also a believer in that education comes outside of the books as well. "Education is not just about book knowledge -- and this goes right back to this White House initiative -- if I hadn't gone out to Texas and met other people, then I probably wouldn't have been nominated for this Initiative, so education is much more than just studying a book," she said. "We learn from other people and through talking with others."
Her advise to high school students is to put God first in what they do. She said he would direct their path.
"I didn't see myself in primary school being here [college], but it was all in God's plan so I think first of all if they put God first he'll direct their steps in everything. They should also always have a good attitude, and by that I mean don't complain when they get a lot of work in class, but just have a good attitude, and stay focused. If they want to be a chef go out there and be the best chef they can be. If they want to be a doctor, go and be the best doctor they can be, but just stay focused and do well at what they choose to do."
With weeks to her graduation, Braynen says her immediate goals are to find a job for a few years before applying to graduate school. In 10 years she would like to have her own business and she has dream of one day starting her own mentoring initiative.
"With God all things are possible and it doesn't matter where you come from, but it matters where you end up," she says.
Nelson Mandela's quote "After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb," is another favorite of hers and one that she says she hopes Bahamian students would live by as well in their approach to their academics.
"When I graduated from high school I was celebrating that I was over this big hill called high school, but I'm climbing this next hill called college and when I'm finished, there's a next hill called real life, so students should ensure that they have determination when they're climbing the hills throughout life and make sure to have God in their life and be focused to get over those hills. But while climbing the hills to also make sure to help other people up which I try to do now in college by being a role model for other students," she said.

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