Education

Elizabeth Estates Public Library's summer program celebrates 10th anniversary

August 13, 2014

Summer programs aren't all boring. According to Duranique Minus, a student at St. John's College, participating in the Elizabeth Estates Public Library's summer camp over the years has helped her with her reading and schoolwork, and she also learned to appreciate books more.Duranique, 12, has participated in the summer program since its inception and was present at The Elizabeth Estates Public Library again this summer to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the program under the theme, "Books Are Hidden Treasures, Dig In".The library's head librarian, Princess Clarke, introduced the program in 2004. Through it she hoped to involve students in educational activities during the summer. Staff and volunteers engaged the students in mathematics, English, craft exercises and field trips during the four-week session. Clarke said that in the early years, the program averaged 90 students, but that number was reduced to 50 for manageability. The library staff is assisted by loyal volunteers, parents and students seeking to fulfill their community service requirement for their respective schools. Clarke was pleased at the enthusiasm the summer program continues to generate and the financial support from parents."One year, we even had a visitor from abroad who enrolled his two sons in the program while on vacation in [New Providence]," Clarke said. Clarke stated that over the years word had spread and parents from other communities throughout New Providence had registered their children in the summer library camp. In addition to celebrating the milestone, the library's staff and volunteers were presented with the Association of Caribbean University Research and Institutional Libraries (ACURIL) Presidential Award for Excellence in Summer Library Programs to Children and Adults by Dorcas Bowler, immediate past president of ACURIL and director of libraries in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

Bowler said the library won the highest recognition -- The President Award -- for the category in which it was nominated. "The Elizabeth Estates Library and the wider Bahamas, as a whole, have reason to be proud of this award because it [Elizabeth Estates Public Library] distinguished itself from among other Caribbean libraries for its community outreach efforts, exposing students to their history and parental involvement," said Bowler.She found it unique that the tour was guided by Miriam Roker, who is 90-plus years old and one of the oldest citizens of the Fox Hill community.

read more »

EDUKARTING Government School Summer Camp Programme
EDUKARTING Government School Summer Camp Programme

August 11, 2014

The Edukarting Summer Camp Programme, now in its second year, finished on August 8th...

read more »

Church leader calls on govt to reject Smith for COB post
Church leader calls on govt to reject Smith for COB post

August 11, 2014

CHURCH leader Rev CB Moss yesterday called on Cabinet to reject the College of The Bahamas College Council's recommendation that Dr Rodney Smith be reappointed as president of COB...

read more »

Bahamas Government Praises Rocket Fuel Give Back Sponsored STEM Camp with Fonzworth Bentley
Bahamas Government Praises Rocket Fuel "Give Back" Sponsored STEM Camp with Fonzworth Bentley

August 07, 2014

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is being positioned to lead the region in STEM...

read more »

Exam results add up to a slight improvement in maths and english
Exam results add up to a slight improvement in maths and english

August 07, 2014

ALTHOUGH Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald highlighted improvements in numerous BGCSE exam results yesterday, the national mathematics average remained an E while the English language average rose from a D to a D+...

read more »

Gabrielle Moss: Education is more than reading, writing and 'rithmetic

August 06, 2014

Education is more than just book learning and memorizing what teachers tell you, according to Gabrielle Moss, the 2014 recipient of the prestigious All-Bahamas Merit Scholarship (ABMS). To her, education is about developing as a whole person - and that includes academics.
"You also have to develop yourself morally, knowing the difference between right and wrong; developing yourself socially and being able to relate to other people; and learning how to help others as well. Education also means making your own mistakes as well. We learn from history so we won't be doomed to repeat it. When you make mistakes, it really drives it home and you begin to better yourself as well. So I think education is not just changing yourself and bettering yourself academically, not just learning new things, delving into new aspects, but it also encompasses developing yourself morally, developing the whole being - not just the academic side," said the 16-year-old Bishop Michael Eldon School graduate.
Gabrielle received a $140,000 four-year scholarship, which will go toward her studies in mathematics and statistics with a focus on actuarial science at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., where the annual tuition is $67,777.
Gabrielle is the 19th person to be awarded the coveted ABMS in the 21-year history of the award that started in 1993 (the scholarship was not awarded in 2001 and 1994). She is the seventh female student to win and the third recipient to attend Johns Hopkins University.
The award is funded by the Lyford Cay Foundation, the Ministry of Education and The Central Bank of The Bahamas.
Winning the award was a major milestone for the teen. When she got a call from the scholarship committee, she thought she had received a merit award and not the top award.
Shocked
"Initially when I got the call, I heard them say I'd gotten the $25,000 award, and I was still thrilled. I called my mom [Wendy] and said I got second place. It wasn't until actually right before I was getting on the flight [from Grand Bahama] to come to Nassau that I got an email saying I had to write a thank you. When I saw that I was wondering if I had actually gotten the All-Bahamas Merit award, and the next day when I found out I'd gotten it for certain, I was just ecstatic."
Gabrielle said when she found out she was awarded the scholarship, she was in a daze, but was thrilled.
"It was difficult for me to grasp on to the concept that I'd gotten it, because I was so happy thinking I had gotten the $25,000, and then come to see I had gotten it [ABMS]."
In the midst of her happiness, she was humbled, because the result showed that "God can do amazing things as well".
"It really was a major moment of my life to say the least," she said.
Being awarded the ABMS was by no means about luck for the teen, who for years has shown commitment to hard work and studiousness. Moss has been focused and disciplined to the point of earning herself an impressive 4.11 grade point average; she passed nine Bahamas General Certificates of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams with eight A grades and one B grade, and scored 2,080 on her Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
In her final year of high school, she took three advanced placement (AP) courses -- chemistry, English language and calculus. She sat one BGCSE in English literature, of which she still awaits results.
Her academic prowess by itself is astounding, but she was able to engage in a number of extracurricular activities to ensure her career as a well-rounded student. She complemented her academics with involvement in a number of activities. She was the national and Grand Bahama winner for piano playing in the National Arts Festival; the winner of the 2014 Martin Luther King Essay Competition and the winner of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture Pacesetter Award. She also played softball and threw discus for her school. She participated in the Interact Club, Student Christian Movement and Alpha Kappa Alpha 20 Pearls Program. She was also her school's deputy head girl and co-captain of her church's youth group.
Gabrielle is arguably one of the country's best and brightest students coming out of the class of 2014. It's an honor she will take, albeit humbly.
"It surprises me a bit because people think I'm smart when I'm just trying to do my best, but it touches my heart," said Gabrielle. "It's not something I hold on to in a sense. It's not something I let go to my head [because] it's not something I'm used to," she said. "I'm really humble when people tell me that [I'm smart]. I say thank you and I really and truly appreciate when people tell me that."
She especially appreciates when her family members tell her that she's doing well, and credits her work ethic to her parents. The daughter of Gregory Moss, a lawyer, and Wendy Moss, a part-time mathematics lecturer at The College of The Bahamas, the young Moss believes both of her parents are diligent individuals, but her love for mathematics comes from her mother, whom she lives with.
The journey
Gabrielle said her journey to applied mathematics and actuarial science as a course of study at the university level was a process. She grew up loving math and had plans to become a college professor like her mother, but when she really considered her passion, she realized she did not enjoy teaching and started looking at different careers in mathematics. Her mother suggested actuarial science a few years ago. Not knowing anything about the field, the scholar did her research and liked the high concentration of mathematics and statistics involved. What is particularly appealing to her is the work involved in looking at past financial events and examining current events to calculate risks and forecast future trends. She also likes that the work allows for the actuary to work independently doing research, collecting data and analyzing statistics, but would also give her the chance to collaborate with a group for information presentation."I do sometimes work better by myself, but I do not want a job where I'm in isolation," said Gabrielle. The course of study became more attractive to the teen when she realized actuaries were limited in The Bahamas.
As far as she can recall, the 2014 ABMS recipient has always been focused on her education. She said her mother drilled into her the importance of an education. Gabrielle believes she has matured over the years and has done what she needed to do to advance herself academically.
"In primary school I was doing it because my parents were telling me, even though I knew it was important, but when I came to grades eight...nine when I started BJC's [Bahamas Junior Certificate exam studies], I began to realize that this isn't just something I'm doing because my mom is telling me [that] I needed to do this. It's something I'm doing because I have to do it in order to succeed. If I want to fulfill my dreams I'm going to have to take the extra step and do it," she said.
With her mother's advice to begin preparing for exams in advance, Gabrielle's routine saw her taking every possible chance she had to study and review, including during her lunch breaks, and devoting at least an hour to each subject she had to study after arriving home, taking a bath and having her dinner.
As smart as she is, Gabrielle owns up to having her struggles -- for her it was language and literature. She never failed, but did not enjoy the English subjects as much as the sciences. It wasn't until her final year as she took AP language that she really began to appreciate and enjoy the subject.
The teen, who will commence her first year of university at age 16 (her 17th birthday is in November), is looking forward to attending university. She said it will be tough leaving her family for the first time, but she's looking forward to meeting new young people and commencing her studies.
She will depart in two weeks for Maryland. Her plans for the ensuing days include sorting out her visa, packing and trying to get in at least one beach day before she leaves, something she said she's been unable to do so far this summer.
"Really, I just want to enjoy my country before I go -- and make sure to buy things to carry before I go away. So many individuals have instructed me to purchase a six-pack of Goombay [soda] before I go, and to drink one every two or three weeks for the first three months that I will be there," she said.
Gabrielle said she also wants to spend as much time with family, and was able to do that in the past few days while on New Providence, where the majority of her family lives, before she heads back to Grand Bahama and then to university.
"Once I leave here and go back to Freeport, I most likely won't see them again until, God spare life, Christmas, so another thing I want to do is spend time with my family members while I have the time before I go," she said.
Gabrielle considers herself to be a diligent, resolved and empathetic individual.
"I'm diligent and resolved, because it's not only about being confident," she said. "Even when things seem tough I don't like to give up, that's not my nature."
She also described herself as creative musically and curious; she is a person who likes to engage in projects and help her mom in their garden.
The middle child of three, she is sandwiched between two brothers. Her elder brother, Edward is three years older and enrolled at The College of The Bahamas. She is older than her younger sibling William by five-and-a-half years. He will enter high school in the fall.
Role model
Gabrielle also admits to Edward being a role model to her. She described him as "intelligent" and said she used to refer to him as a "walking dictionary". What she admires most is his demeanor and his mannerly disposition.
"He gets along with people really well. He's a caring individual. The reason I really look up to him is because he's socially confident all the time, and I really admire the fact that he's not afraid to stand up, speak if he has to, go up to people and talk. That really encouraged me growing up, because socializing was not my forte, honestly. But when I saw him do it, it allowed me to be more comfortable. I was able to start reaching out and talk to individuals."
She also said she admired the fact that her brother always professed Christianity, no matter what others said, that he strived to get his education and promote the word of God.
"Being himself, no matter what others might say about him, really encouraged me as well, for when others tried to hurt or told me I couldn't do certain things," said Gabrielle.
She prays that she's a role model for William.
As she prepares to commence the next phase of her educational journey, the ABMS recipient's advice to her peers is to first know what they want, hold fast to their dreams and work hard for them, even though she said there would be people who will try to deter them and tell them that they can't make it.
"I'm a Christian so I always say you have to have faith. To be honest, I always thought I had faith, but it wasn't really until this year that I really had to realize that it's not all about you, and that you have to do your part -- you will have to work hard for your grades and you have to know what you have to do and what to leave alone. Know what you want, don't let other people tell you your dreams; don't let other people deter you from your dreams telling you it's not worth fighting for, and strive hard to go and achieve it and give it your all in the process," she said.
Previous All-Bahamas Merit Scholars
2013 -- Shannon Butler, University of St. Andrew's, medicine
2012 -- Theophilus Moss, John Hopkins University, mechanical engineering
2011 -- Jamia Moss, College of St. Benedict, biochemistry and Spanish
2009 -- Jenna Chaplin, University of The Pacific, fine arts and psychology
2008 -- Genymphas Higgs, Drexel University, biomedical engineering
2007 -- Lisa Rodgers, Brown University, education
2006 -- Kyle Chea, Vassar College, pre-med and foreign languages
2005 -- Andrea Culmer, McGill University, Chemistry and Pre-Med
2004 -- Sharelle Ferguson, Harvard University, social studies
2003 -- Sebastian Hutchinson, University of Pennsylvania, finance and accounting
2002 -- Peter Blair, Duke University, physics and mathematics
2001 -- No award given
2000 -- Ricardo Davis, Queen's University, Ontario, biochemistry
1999 -- Ryan Knowles, Boston University, accounting and finance
1998 -- Damian Archer, University of Western Ontario, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus - 1 year, chemistry, medicine
1997 -- Jehan Unwala, Tufts University, international relations and economics
1996 -- Rhys Powell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, electrical engineering and computer science
1995 -- Damian Forbes, Yale University, economics
1994 -- No award given
1993 -- Shireen Denise Donaldson, Johns Hopkins University, biochemistry

read more »

Health is wealth

August 06, 2014

I guess that when people are young and healthy, they do not perhaps realize what a wonderful gift has been given to them in the form of their strong, healthy body -- that is of course until they perhaps get sick and start to suffer a little because of their illness. My friend, I believe that God gave us all a simply wonderful marvel when he gave us our physical bodies. However, far too many people over the years start to abuse their bodies in a variety of ways, which eventually results in deterioration to the point where illness of one sort or another is experienced. And of course, so often, we neglect to take care of the wonderful, healthy body that God created especially for us to such an extent, that we are placed in a position where we're actually unable to work.
Now basically, when we work we acquire wealth. So it logically follows that when we are unable to work through ill health, caused primarily by our lack of concern for our previously healthy body, we will not be able to earn any money. So this quite definitely backs up, substantiates my premise in the title of today's article that is that health is wealth, which it surely is.
Now most people who have plenty of money know how to protect their money and the things that they have bought with their money, their investments. Well then, if people make sure to protect their money, their wealth, doesn't it logically follow that they should also fully protect their source of being able to acquire wealth, their overall health? You bet it does!
Yes my friend, don't wait 'til it's too late to protect your most important asset, the health of your body, mind and spirit for this is where true wealth comes from. Let's all get on a good health, fitness and wellness program as soon as possible. Let's all start to number one, eat right with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as the main part of our diet washed down with plenty of water -- six to eight glasses each and every day; Number two, let's make sure that we participate regularly in some form of physical exercise, running, walking, swimming, etc.; and number three, let's all strive to develop true peace of mind through regular daily meditation. Yes indeed, as today's title succinctly states it health is wealth, so, protect it!
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.

read more »

COB candidate: I regret mistake
COB candidate: I regret mistake

August 05, 2014

CONTROVERSIAL College of the Bahamas presidential candidate Dr Rodney Smith yesterday expressed hope that the public would accept him as a "man of integrity" despite a high profile plagiarism scandal that led to his resignation from the position in 2005...

read more »

Award for 'amazing' young scholar
Award for 'amazing' young scholar

August 01, 2014

EDUCATION Minister Jerome Fitzgerald announced 16-year-old Gabrielle Moss from Grand Bahama as the recipient of this year's All-Bahamas Merit Scholarship yesterday...

read more »

Queen's College Students Sweep 2nd Annual FirstCare Autism Awareness Essay Contest

July 30, 2014

FirstCare Medical Plan, R.E.A.C.H. Bahamas and Ministry of Education award three students with prizes valued at more than $1k...

read more »

Preparing children to return to school

July 30, 2014

With just four weeks before the start of the new academic school year for most students, parents are consumed with ensuring that things like uniforms, school shoes and all the other sundry items are squared away. But one teacher is urging parents to begin familiarizing their children with the things they will be facing in the classroom.
"My advice would be to go and get the child's book list, purchase the books on the list and give the child a jumpstart," said Valarie Kemp, a sixth grade teacher at Oakes Field Primary. "Work with the child to see how much in that book the child remembers, or what the child does not know."
By doing this, Kemp said parents can give their children a jumpstart on the new school year by allowing them to get some experience in the work they'll be doing throughout the term.
While many educators also advise having children review during the summer months, Kemp said parents could help their children look back at the previous year's work. However, according to the teacher, many of the books that children will use in their next grade levels will make the connection for them.
"So they will make that connection and be able to review from that and add to it, so it will be easier for that child when he or she is studying," said the educator with 40 years experience.
One thing she is adamant about is that parents ensure that their children return to school with all the textbooks they will need for the academic year.
"They [children] need to come back with all the material that they need at the very beginning," said Kemp. "I don't want to have to wait for the end of September for them [parents] to be looking for the books. I can't hold my class back for your child who does not have the text from the list you were given from the end of school. It's not fair, and that's what happens a lot of times. The children need the texts," she said.
And if parents haven't purchased textbooks yet, they should be doing so now, advised Kemp. The closer it gets to September, the more prices increase and the more likely it will be that books are sold out.
"Last week I found a book at one place that was $6.10. I went to another store, the same book was $13.95. As you get closer (to the opening of school), the prices skyrocket," said Kemp. "So parents need to ensure that they get the textbooks and get the child the opportunity to go through those textbooks and get a jumpstart."
Even if parents have allowed their children to slack off during the first half of the summer break, they should not berate themselves. Kemp believes they can use the remaining weeks to get their children's brains back into learning mode. Keeping with the spirit of summer holidays, she hopes that in doing so, parents can make the experience fun.
"It's time for the children to start reading and not letting their brains stay too idle. If it's not a book that they pick up, they should be reading on their tablets or laptops. Parents should just make sure that their children are reading," she said.
Kemp also warned about children constantly play video games. If they must do so, she hopes parents ensure that their little ones are playing educational games.
"You have to make it fun and make him feel that he or she is still on vacation, but at the same time they're working," said the teacher. "Parents have to work with the child -- let the child read to them, or parents read to the child or they read as they go along. They should not make it seem like he or she is still in school and it's punishment, but make it fun. Whatever you're going to do, make learning fun, and then they'll be all right," she said.
For students who are moving up into sixth grade and those who are leaving primary school behind and moving up to junior school, Kemp said this is the time for parents to let their children know that the transition will be very important.
"We have parents who treat the children like they're still babies, so we advise them to let go, and let the children be responsible for their own doings or whatever they have to do. Parents need to talk to them about the importance of the sixth grade and going into seventh grade," she recommended.
Her advice to the children who have graduated primary school and will start junior school in the fall is for them to do their best and work.
"Once they make that transition into the seventh grade, and successfully do that, then it would be easier straight through as they will be grounded and that's important," said Kemp
With mere weeks to the school year, the teacher also said that parents should be putting into practice getting their children into a regular routine of bedtime by 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., at the latest, to ensure that the children are fresh and ready for school. She also said parents need to get their children excited about coming to school and make school sound like a fun experience.

read more »

All-Bahamas Merit Scholar to be announced tomorrow

July 30, 2014

The title of All-Bahamas Merit Scholar is one of the most coveted out there and is awarded to the single most promising Bahamian high school graduate accepted to a demanding college. The scholarship is worth up to $140,000 over four years of study. The winner, who will be selected from amongst the applicants who applied for consideration for the award, will be made public tomorrow.
The 2013 All-Bahamas Merit Scholarship went to Queen's College graduate Shannon Butler, who is matriculating at the University of St. Andrew's in Scotland. He aspires to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.
The All-Bahamas Merit Scholarship is tenable at The College of The Bahamas or an accredited university or college in the Caribbean, United States of America, United Kingdom or Canada. It is awarded to the applicant who has demonstrated exceptional academic ability and excellence in co-curricular activities and been accepted to an academically prestigious college or university. The winning applicant also has to have a strong ethos of public service, possess an unwavering dedication to improving the lives of all Bahamians and demonstrated a strong moral character and the potential to lead.
According to the criteria for selection, the ideal All-Bahamas Merit Scholar serves in an ambassadorial role for The Bahamas and is expected to contribute to the overall development of the country by providing service and applying his or her talents and knowledge to improving the lives of other Bahamians.
Prior to Butler, past winners of the All-Bahamas Merit Award and the universities they attended were: Shireen Denise Donaldson (1993, Johns Hopkins University), Damian Forbes (1995, Yale University), Rhys Powell (1996, MIT), Jehan Unwala (1997, Tufts University), Damian Archer (1998, University of Western Ontario, UWI Mona Campus), Ryan Knowles (1999, Boston University), Ricardo Davis (2000, Queen's University, Canada), Peter Blair (2002, Duke University), Sebastian Hutchinson (2003, University of Pennsylvania), Sharelle Ferguson (2004, Harvard), Andrea Culmer (2005, McGill University, Canada), Kyle Chea (2006, Vassar College), Lisa Rodgers (2007, Brown University), Genymphas Higgs (2008, Drexel University), Jenna Chaplin (2009, University of The Pacific), Clifford Bowe (2010, Georgia Institute of Technology), Jamia Boss (2011, College of St. Benedict) and Theophilus Moss (2012, Johns Hopkins University).
The fields of study for past All-Bahamas Merit recipients included accounting and finance, biochemistry, physics and mathematics, social studies, chemistry, history and Chinese, education and human biology, biomedical engineering, visual arts, mechanical engineering and pre-medicine and Spanish.
Just who will emerge the 2014 All-Bahamas Merit Scholar is still a wait-and-see game, as no one outside the selection committee knows the successful applicant or even how many individuals have applied for the award. The scholarship selection process is kept tightly under wraps until the day the All-Bahamas Merit Scholar is named. Applicants are given no indication of their competitors' identities. However, to be considered for the scholarship, applicants must be under 20 with minimum GPAs of 3.50 at the end of the fall term; they must also have sat a minimum of seven Bahamas General Certificates of Secondary Education (BGCSE) examinations including English language and math, prior to the time of application and applied to an accredited college or university.
The selection committee scrutinizes the applicants' academic merits, which involve GPA, BGCSE grades, test scores including the SAT, advanced placement (AP) courses, enrollment in the International Baccalaureate (IB), academic honors, awards and recommendations.
But it's not all academics when it comes to determining the winner. The committee also looks at the quality and reputation of an applicant's proposed college or university as well as his or her contributions to school and community. The candidate's personal qualities, including leadership skills, maturity, independence, sense of direction, motivation, self-expression and enthusiasm are taken into account.
The All-Bahamas Merit Scholarship is a collaborative effort of The Bahamas Ministry of Education, the Lyford Cay Foundation, Inc. and The Central Bank of The Bahamas. The recipient has to maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA or equivalent in the first year of study and a minimum of 3.50 cumulative GPA or equivalent in each subsequent year. All-Bahamas Merit Scholars are also required to complete a minimum of 25 hours of volunteer service to projects of their choice annually.
Other scholarships to be awarded include the National Academic Scholarship (up to $10,000 annually for specific courses of study); The National Technical Scholarship (up to $10,000 annually for specific courses of study) and the National Grant (a single year award of up to $7,500 to complete a course of study currently being pursued).

read more »

Queen's College students pull off the sweep

July 30, 2014

Queen's College (QC) graduate Raphieal Newbold Jr., recounted his experience watching a toddler interact lovingly with his older brother - who is affected by autism- as an example that everyone should follow, in an essay that went on to win the second FirstCare Autism Awareness essay contest.
In his essay, Newbold, who wrote on the topic, "Autism in The Bahamas: Inclusion, Advocacy and Dispelling Myths", said: "We can eradicate the teasing, the frowns and the harsh interferences. Together we can see significant improvement and advancement."
He walked away with $300 from FirstCare Medical Plan, a gift certificate from The Shoe Village and an electronic gift from Custom Computers.
Two other QC students were selected as runners-up. Eleventh grade student Ari Brathwaite was first runner-up, and 10th grade student Janea Munroe was the second runner-up. They received cash prizes as well as gift certificates.
More than 65 high school students throughout The Bahamas submitted essays.
"It is encouraging to see so many Bahamian students take part in this essay contest," said Marcellus Taylor, deputy director of education responsible for planning and transformation. "We have already seen the great returns on the government's investments in special education. We have witnessed students on the autism spectrum who have been integrated into mainstream educational institutions and are now sitting national exams."
"FirstCare Medical Plan is committed to raising awareness for this developmental disorder that affects so many Bahamians both directly and indirectly," said Corinna Neely, president of FirstCare Medical Plan. "We are incredibly encouraged by the great response the essay contest generates. Knowing that students are researching the disorder, learning more about how it affects others and linking that knowledge to personal interactions with those affected by autism can only help in fostering inclusion in the community."
Mario Carey, president of R.E.A.C.H. Bahamas expressed hope for further inclusion, highlighting the recently tabled Disabilities Act, which he said "gives our population of special needs citizens a lot of rights, a lot of power and equal opportunity".
Carey, flanked by his son Cole - who is a U.S. National Honor Society member with Asperger's syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism - outlined initiatives that R.E.A.C.H. is spearheading, including the recently concluded 14th annual summer camp hosted in partnership with the Ministry of Education that provided complimentary activities for more than 196 children over a four-week period. He also announced the launch of the Best Buddies program in The Bahamas, a global volunteer movement that seeks to integrate those with autism spectrum disorders into the workforce. Corporate volunteers welcome those with autism spectrum disorders into the workplace, where they are assigned a buddy who works with them one-on-one with the ultimate goal of securing rewarding jobs that will allow adults with autism to become part of mainstream society.
The government has already committed to building a full center for the disabled, complete with education, training and recreational facilities on a 20-acre site on Gladstone Road.

read more »

Baha Mar's third Leadership Development Institute class welcomes individuals with intellectual and developmental disorders

July 30, 2014

Baha Mar is providing true inclusion for all Bahamians, with more opportunities than ever before for individuals with intellectual and developmental disorders (IDD). On Monday, the Leadership Development Institute (LDI), a non-profit training organization supported by Baha Mar began its third session.
LDI creates opportunities for Bahamians from all backgrounds to be trained and to potentially join the Baha Mar team. In this recent session, LDI broke new ground by not only doubling of the class size but also by taking the unprecedented step to include people with IDD in the program.
More than 200 new LDI students and their parents gathered in the Rainforest Theater at the Crystal Palace Training Hotel for the LDI orientation session. However, for the six individuals with IDD and their parents, the meeting represented so much more.
Through a revolutionary program, Baha Mar has partnered with Best Buddies International, founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver in 1989, to allow individuals with IDD to join Baha Mar's transformative Leadership Development Institute. Over the years, Best Buddies International has partnered with organizations throughout the United States and in 50 countries around the world, assisting with training and creating integrated social and employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities including autism and Down syndrome. The partnership with Baha Mar marks the first Best Buddies International venture in the region.
Best Buddies candidates were identified with the assistance of local IDD advocates, including Dr. Michelle Major, director of the Seahorse Institute, a non-profit organization that provides treatment for people with autism and other developmental delays, and Mario Carey, president of R.E.A.C.H. Bahamas, an autism advocacy and support group.
Baha Mar's Chief Marketing Officer Denise Godreau, was humbled by the opportunity to be a part of the revolutionary program that is transforming not only the resort experience in The Bahamas, but the way that people with IDD are perceived.
Godreau, who is also the mother of a child with IDD, said there is no better way to transform The Bahamas, Baha Mar's employees and the guest experience than by creating programs like LDI that can tap into the unrealized potential in members of our community.
"For me personally, it's a great day. I have a daughter with IDD, and I'm incredibly excited that we are able to have this opportunity in The Bahamas," she said, wiping away tears. "The Best Buddies program at Baha Mar is going to change everyone for the better. Baha Mar and LDI are already changing lives through providing a chance for Bahamians to create a better future, but having candidates with IDD at LDI, and eventually at Baha Mar, will make us all more grateful, humble and joyful."
The Best Buddies program affords individuals with IDD the same chances to succeed as other young people enrolled in LDI. Through LDI, Baha Mar is helping to increase the integration of people living with IDD in our community by providing them with the tools and opportunities that they need to succeed in the workplace and the chance to secure a job at the luxury $3.5 billion resort.
The integration of Best Buddies with LDI has received strong support from parents of young adults with IDD and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) within the community who have lauded LDI as a transformative program.
Raymond Gaitor is the father of 20-year-old Jonathan, a graduate of Anatol Rodgers High School with IDD. Gaitor describes Best Buddies and LDI as a godsend.
"As a member of R.E.A.C.H., this is one of the things we have been hoping for over the years. It is similar to a sheltered workshop where companies introduce the kids to a work environment, getting them comfortable with responsibilities," Gaitor explained.
Carey said that parents with children who have IDD now have hope.
"Typically, in The Bahamas, kids with IDD graduate from school at 19 years old, and they go home. They don't have the chance to be a part of society. That puts a lot of stress on families," he explained. "If we can get them into the workforce, the domino effect is huge. We're so happy to have this program in The Bahamas."
Each IDD student has been paired with a student 'buddy' in LDI for the duration of the 16-week class session. During those sessions, LDI students will learn functional and technical skills, service skills, leadership training and life skills, part of LDI's overall vision to create opportunities for all Bahamians, including those with unrealized potential.
According to LDI Executive Director Jeffrey Lloyd, all students will be treated fairly and encouraged to take advantage of all opportunities, to exceed expectations, to help each other and to thrive as part of a community.
"These students are making history because they are enrolled in the largest LDI class to-date. Not only because enrollment has doubled, but also because LDI is welcoming individuals who are intellectually and developmentally challenged," Lloyd said.
Participant Danor McKinney was thrilled to be a part of the new LDI class and get his feet wet in the field of hospitality.
"I'm excited about it because it leaves a lot of opportunities for young folks of our age and it opens up a lot of doors," McKinney explained.
The third session of LDI began on July 21 and will run until early November. To learn more about LDI and how to apply, visit LDI Baha Mar on Facebook or e-mail LDI@bahamar.com.

read more »

Keeping focused

July 30, 2014

Just over the halfway mark into the fourth annual FOCUS Summer SLAM, the program's doors were opened to allow donors, students, family members and education officials to see students enrolled in the program in action during an All School Rally at The College of The Bahamas.
An initiative of the Lyford Cay Foundation, FOCUS is a tuition-free, school enrichment program that sets primary school students on an eight-year path to college and career success. Lessons take place during the school year and for 30 days in the summer.
This year, FOCUS is serving 152 students in grades five through eight who have been working together in small groups to complete projects that demonstrate this summer's information theme.
Students entering grades five and six with the new academic year were tasked with creating websites that communicate feasible waste management solutions for New Providence. Students entering grades seven and eight were charged with using geographic information systems (GIS) technology to map an efficient bus route system for FOCUS students.
Jasmine Roker, a sixth grade student at T.G. Glover Primary School, who has been in FOCUS for two years, said the program has helped her.
"FOCUS has helped me in school. The things I didn't know, FOCUS picked me up and helped me with them. And FOCUS teachers teach me different things," she said. "The best part about being in FOCUS is that I get to meet new people and also I get a boost to learning."
Students are recruited in fourth grade from public primary schools in New Providence's northwestern district (East Street through to Bain and Grants Town and up to Gambier Village). FOCUS' mission is that through additional educational support and enrichment activities, the students would be the first in their families to attend tertiary learning institutions.
Olivia Johnson, the mother of Amile Johnson, a fifth grade FOCUS student, has seen first-hand the program's accomplishments.
"For me, the best part is his mind is constantly going. He's constantly thinking; he's learning more, and I'm learning because he's talking about all the biomedical waste and all that. So whatever he's learning here, he's bringing it home and it's challenging him, because he's says to me, 'Oh, mommy I never knew about this,'" said Johnson.
All FOCUS programs take place at The College of The Bahamas' Oakes Field campus.

read more »

COB chooses Rodney Smith as president
COB chooses Rodney Smith as president

July 28, 2014

THE College Council of the College of the Bahamas (COB) has recommended that Dr Rodney Smith be chosen as COB's new president, according to a statement by Council president Alfred Sears...

read more »

Social promotion or an earned right

July 23, 2014

The first day of school is always a sight to behold -- children with their perfectly coiffed hair, uniforms starched to perfection and spit-shined shoes. But do people ever stop to wonder how many of these children have moved on to the next grade level because they have earned the right and are not advancing through social promotion -- a practice that has always been a part of the school system and is still prevalent today, according to educators.
Social promotion is the practice of promoting students along from grade to grade with their peers, even if the students have not satisfied academic requirements or met performance standards at key grades. It is called social promotion because it is often carried out in the perceived interest of a student's social and psychological wellbeing. At the same time, it has been shown that the practice of having students repeat a grade often has negative educational consequences, hence the social promotion.
The issue of social promotion came to light after The Nassau Guardian viewed the report card of a nine-year-old, fourth grade student whose summer grade point average (GPA) was listed as 2.04 -- and had one A grade, two B grades, four C grades, 1 D grade and eight E grades, and wondered how the grades added up.
The Nassau Guardian polled a number of educators who were given the student's letter grades to calculate a GPA based on the Ministry of Education's grading system, which they said was standard across the board. Two of the educators calculated a GPA of 1.1875 (which they said was rounded up to 1.19); another two educators said their calculations were 1.19 -- a stark difference from the 2.04 on the report.
All of the educators canvassed expressed shock at the 2.04 GPA given, considering the letter grades, but spoke with The Nassau Guardian on condition of anonymity.
In the teacher's comments section, the teacher wrote that the student had struggled through the academic year largely in part to the child's lack of focus during lessons; the student, the teacher said, was too easily distracted. The teacher urged the parents to encourage the child to work harder in fifth grade, but there was no mention of possibly the child having to repeat.
The educators who spoke with The Nassau Guardian weren't surprised. They said social promotion has always been a part of the school system and is prevalent today. They said social promotion is seen as necessary due to an issue with space and being able to allow children to move on so that other students can move up, but it also creates a problem if the child is unable to gain the skills he or she needs to achieve higher level.
On the flip side, the educators said that keeping a child back can scar the student for life and, in some cases, the child that is held back ends up being the bully in class due to being older and bigger than peers.
A senior in the tourism sector (who preferred to remain anonymous) said she remembers having to repeat eighth grade at a top private school due to her grade point average being below that required to be promoted to ninth grade. She said her mother gave her the option of repeating the grade in the private school or entering the government school sector. The woman said she preferred to not repeat because she would have been embarrassed. She was enrolled in a government school, where she proceeded to achieve honor roll status every year until she graduated.
Most of the educators who spoke with The Nassau Guardian said a child with eight E grades on a report card needs special and immediate intervention.
"A red flag should have gone up for quite some time," said one educator. "The grades tell me that it's not a new problem, but an old problem, and I would probably want to provide that child with some form of intervention in the resource room, pull out programs, call in special services...whatever," said the educator.
Another educator said the "E" grades meant nothing.
"That child is performing at the lowest level possible, based on the grading systems out of 5 -- A, B, C, D and E."
The student, who was not taught at any of the schools of the educators that The Nassau Guardian spoke with, said there needed to be a secondary check of the grades and the GPA given.
"By looking at these grades and looking at the GPA, something is definitely wrong and so it would have been checked. I know most schools are computerized in using the reporting system, and so most times you will get an error, so you will have to go back and repost, and re-average to come up with the correct GPA," said one educator.
As to whether she thought the child was being socially promoted, the educator was noncommittal.
"Again, it all depends. We have students in our system who do not function like the mainstream students -- we have students who are autistic, so many of our teachers are not quite able to deal with them, and so we look for a resource person or other persons who can teach these students, based on their learning level."
The educator also said that the grades reflected could have been because the child was not being taught based on his or her learning style, and that the student was only getting the umbrella-type teaching.
According to the educator, the child's parents needed to be called in for a discussion with them over the ramifications surrounding the child's grades and learning; the parents should also be encouraged to work with the child at home. At school, she said, an intervention strategy needed to be plotted for the child -- even if it meant bringing the child in on a Saturday morning.
The educator would have asked for the child to be retested, to see where the student was academically, taking his or her level from there and moving on.
"There are adults who can't take exams and they hyperventilate in exams," said the educator. "I know our ministry was speaking about oral exams for kids who can't take a written exam, to give them an oral exam to help them along, but that has not materialized. We're still into the paper and pen."
As to whether the child should be promoted or repeated, the educator said if the child had been repeated previously he or she should not repeat again.
On the report card, the child's teacher commented satisfactorily on all traits except one -- the child was given a "U" grade which stands for unsatisfactory in work habits, which the educator said spoke volumes concerning the student's lack of focus.
"Their study habits are not there. Their classroom work habit is limited. It seems this child was very easily distracted," said the educator.
Another educator was astounded that the child had eight E grades in reading subjects -- comprehension and literature; language arts subjects -- written composition and grammar and usage; mathematics subjects -- concepts of numbers, computation and application and religious education.
Ministry of Education core subjects include mathematics, language arts, social science, religious studies and physical education.
The educator expressed curiosity over whether the child's teacher had made contact with the parents and told the parents that their child was at risk for failure.
"What parent would want to receive a report card with eight 'E' grades? A lot of variables would come into play," said another educator.
One thing the educator was absolutely certain of was that, based on the letter grades, the 2.04 GPA was totally incorrect.
"I don't care what system they are using -- a 2.04 as GPA is not correct. It just could not add up, not with eight E grades. I'm not sure what system the teacher is using as well -- maybe it erred. When you use some form of electronic system, it gives room for error," said the educator.
The educator was uncertain whether the child was being socially promoted.
"I'm not sure that the teacher wants to promote someone with those grades. I would want to see some form of intervention."
The unsatisfactory grade given to the student under traits also spoke volumes about the educator.
Not a fan of repeating students, the educator believes students should move along with their peers, but added services should be provided for the student to assist him or her in the upcoming grade. The educator said collaboration was needed between the parents and the teacher. The educator also called for the child to be tested.
"My first concern is always for the student, and we have to do right by them. A lot of students come with issues and they may have some challenges in terms of academics, but I believe all children are educable, as long as they can learn. I think we do our very best as educators to ensure that they receive some kind of formal education, and in doing so, if you find the child is still failing, then you need to go out of school and provide the child with the services that are available."
If the child had been in the school at which the Guardian Lifestyles source taught, according to the educator, the child would have been referred to a guidance counselor in the first instance, who would then have referred the child to special services, if it was necessary. Special services would have tried to find some form of intervention for the child in the school environment. In the event of such an intervention not working, the educator said the child would probably be placed in a self-contained program like Stapledon School or the incoming special needs program that will be opened in September at the Our Lady's Catholic Primary School site.
The educator also had advice for fellow colleagues to be very careful in working out students' grades. The educator said when something is put in black and white that it's very difficult to take back.
"Teachers have to be efficient, proficient and transparent in their grades. I would double-check all of my work to ensure that the GPA is correct before I hand it out to parents."
The Nassau Guardian reached out to Ministry of Education, Science and Technology officials who declined to comment.

read more »

Lyford Cay Foundation grants 15,000 to REACH summer camp

July 23, 2014

Lyford Cay Foundation awarded a $15,000 grant to the non-profit organization REACH (Resources and Education for Autism and Related Challenges) to help facilitate the organization's 14th annual summer camp for students with autism spectrum disorders. Funding from the foundation allowed the group to accept more than 90 students, the largest number of participants in the camp's history. In line with the foundation's mission, the camp is free to all participants and offers an inclusive environment that allows students to stay engaged and continue learning throughout the summer.
The four-week program was held at T.G. Glover Primary School. Classes were facilitated by special education teachers, assistants and aides. Camp Co-coordinator Teri-Gaye Vassell said that no child was turned away and the group accepted siblings and students without autistic spectrum disorders in order to help special students develop social behavioral skills.
This year's theme, 'All Things Bright and Beautiful', had students learning about creation, nature and wildlife through crafts, music and caring for animals and plants.
"REACH's mandate embodies the foundation's mission to serve those most in need in the community," said Maureen French, Lyford Cay Foundation's managing director. "Our donors and board of directors are amazed by REACH's commitment to integrate children with autism spectrum disorders into society. We are proud to partner with REACH and inspired by their work."

read more »

Chantal Adderley named to Maine Maritime Academy Dean's List for spring 2014

July 23, 2014

CASTINE, Maine - Chantal Adderley of New Providence was recently named to the Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) dean's list for outstanding academic achievement in the second semester of the 2013-2014 academic year. She is studying marine transportation operations. Students named to the dean's list earn a grade point average of 3.3 or above.
Maine Maritime Academy is a co-educational, public college on the coast of Maine offering 18 degree programs in engineering, management, science and transportation. MMA students benefit from hands-on instruction, international sea time aboard the Training Ship State of Maine and Schooner Bowdoin, cadet shipping aboard commercial vessels and cooperative education assignments.

read more »