Deep Creek Middle School recently said goodbye to two more of its student teachers this spring, Jonathan Jasper and Nancy Stehman from West Chester University in Pennsylvania. The candidates, seen here with their university supervisor Dr. Claire Verden, were the first in their school to fulfill part of their student teaching experience requirements abroad. The opportunity came about through Dr. Verden and the long relationship she has on the island with schools like DCMS and The School for Exceptional Learners in Governor’s Harbour. Dr. Verden, who first came to Eleuthera on vacation, identified ways to volunteer and get her students engaged on the island. “Our relationship first began when Dr. Verden brought students to DCMS for a half-day visit. Soon after, we were conducting joint professional development for each other and then talking about how to share expertise,” says Dr. Paul, Director of Education and coordinator of student teaching partnerships. “The West Chester students are all dual certified in special education and another subject of their choice, so we at DCMS can benefit from their expertise. At the same time, the West Chester students are excited to see us implementing a range of best practices in education with a variety of learners and academic results.”
The West Chester students are just one group in a series of partnerships with international and national universities to support student teaching. DCMS has agreements with West Chester University, Queens University, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and The College of The Bahamas. Each university has a different arrangement with DCMS, but all find it valuable to offer some of their students exposure to the work being done at DCMS, The Island School and CEI. This past year, we hosted our first full-time student teacher from COB. Mrs. Sophia Smith was so excited to be working in a school that is utilizing the progressive pedagogy that she had learned that she applied for and was hired to be the English teacher next year. These partnerships are excellent opportunities for DCMS to share its experience with curriculum and programs as well as to find the next crop of talented teachers who will give back to our community.
DCMS and The Island School would like to congratulate DCMS grade 9 student Zachary Carey of Tarpum Bay on his recent acceptance to Perkiomen School in Pennsylvania. Zach will attend the school next year as a boarder for grades 9-12, joining fellow DCMS alumna Megan Sweeting (DCMS’11).
“Zach has been an incredible contributor to academics, the school community, and the greater community of South Eleuthera. He will add a lot to their school and will soak up all the opportunities he is offered while he is away,” said Dr. Joanna Paul, Director of Education. Zach is a member of the Eco-Club, Early Act Service Club, Founder of the Spanish Club, and an avid SCUBA diver. Here he can be seen as the Plastic Bag Monster while advocating for plastic reduction efforts at a workshop on Harbour Island.
In April, five DCMS grade eight students spent a few days of their Easter vacation touring boarding schools in the Mid-Atlantic region. DCMS supports its students in applying for scholarships for US boarding schools as an alternative option to continuing with their high school education on Eleuthera. To date, 33 students have received over $4 million in awards at prep schools from Virginia to Maine.
This year’s candidates are touring early and will be applying next year. They saw The George School, Oldfields, West Nottingham and St. Andrews to help them understand the range of schools and offerings that they can consider. Thank you to the homestay families, The Strathmanns (parents of Will F’07) and the Obrechts (parents of Annie S’12) for making their visit possible!
Yesterday we all loaded up the four vans and headed over to Deep Creek Middle School to meet our buddies and learn about our community outreach projects. My buddy, Tallia, and I bonded over having the same birthday, July 18th.
We went around to three stations to play games and get to know our buddy a little more. The first station a character or thing was put on our back without us seeing and we had to figure it out.
At the second station we played drama games like the mirror game where we had to make slow movements so the other can follow.
The third station was where we all got a map of the others country and showed them where we live and talked about the different activities in our towns.
After going to all of the stations our buddies got into their groups and explained the service projects they came up with and were passionate about. Some of them were about stray dogs, child abuse, lack of food and cutting down the invasive Casaurina tree. Each ninth graders plans a project and gets the help of an eighth grader and a seventh grader.
After bonding with our buddies they had to get to advisory so the Island School students stood in a circle and went around saying what was the most special part of our time with our buddies. As hard as it was to leave we were excited to go on a trip to the beach!
DCMS students showed off their final School without Walls (SWW) projects last Thursday evening during Presentations of Learning (POL) at the DCMS campus, marking the end of a seven-week experiential learning unit. The opening ceremony was held before students’ families, friends, teachers, and mentors on the basketball court at 5 p.m. Representatives from each grade level gave guests a brief overview of projects before the two-hour open house began.
“Presentations of learning were very exciting because of the support from the community and family and friends,” said Grade 9 student Patrick Johnson. During SWW students go into the community to gain hands-on experience with the social and environmental aspects unique to South Eleuthera. Students and teachers alike dive full throttle into the kind of place-based curriculum that CEF is known for.
“I liked SWW because it was a once in a lifetime experience,” said Grade 7 student Charleston Darling. “Other schools don’t really let you do stuff like that.” Grade 7 students studied marine ecology, taking several trips into the field to tag turtles with CEI researchers, snorkel among fish of all kinds at Cape Eleuthera, and camp in the Exuma Cays with Captain Ron, Chris Maxey, and Grade 7 SWW teachers Odette Pretty and Meghan Maloney. Students ultimately produced a nonfiction report about a local marine habitat and organism.
Grade 8 students were immersed in the study of plastic pollution in The Bahamas and the world at large, hoping to find and implement viable local interventions with the help of CEI plastic pollution researcher Kristal Ambrose and Grade 8 SWW teachers Angela Schatz and Emma Sparrow. POL guests were treated to students’ persuasive anti-plastic seminars.
Grade 9 students learned firsthand that a more equitable and just society requires taking action. Teachers Will Simmons and Jaclyn Jones paired each student with a social or environmental activist in the South Eleuthera community to hone in on an injustice and craft a project proposal to be carried out during the forthcoming Community Outreach class.
The presentations were well-attended and an air of celebration was undoubtedly in the air. “I’m constantly impressed with the level of work our students put forth during Presentations of Learning,” said Grade 8 SWW teacher Emma Sparrow.
On Wednesday, February 19, we were pleased to host Mr. Arthur Croady and Mrs. Esther Blair from the TK Foundation on campus. The TK Foundation is our largest Bahamian supporter and helps makes the great work we do at DCMS and with the BESS program possible. Their day-long visit featured tours of campus sustainable systems, class visits to DCMS and discussions with researchers and educators about their experiences and future outreach programs.
DCMS eighth grader, Tyrin Culmer, has been published in Anansesem, a Caribbean E-zine for Children. Her piece, “Paint,” was written for her seventh grade English class last year. Click on the link to read her piece:
Deep Creek Middle School students have been chosen to attend the 2014 Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions (POPS) International Youth Summit to be held March 22-23, 2014 at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California. They are one of 21 teams, representing 5 countries, who won a bid to attend the comprehensive educational program designed to engage, mentor, and activate youth leaders across the United States and abroad in developing and launching action-oriented solutions to reduce plastic waste in their home communities.
September 21st marked the 28th anniversary of International Costal Cleanup Day—a day spearheaded by the Ocean Conservancy where groups from across the world are empowered to take action in their local communities to assist cleaning their local beaches, while at the same time tallying debris in order to contribute to a world wide data set that will determine the current major pollutants in marine ecosystems. Last year more than 2,500 individual cleanup/ tally efforts occurred on this day.
Though Eleuthera has never before taken part in this event, sixty-four people gathered at Northside Beach last Saturday to be the third island to represents the Bahamas in International Costal Cleanup Day. Students from DCMS joined students from the Island School, and a few local families to clean up the beach and catalog debris. The event was organized by DCMS’s Eco-Club, in conjunction with a plastics survey run by Kristal Ambrose from CEI.
In the end, it was clear that the major pollutant on Northside Beach was plastics. Plastics were more than seven-hundred times as prevalent as other debris, with styrofoam pieces/parts coming in second. On just ¼ mile of beach, 15 trash bags were filled with debris.
Last year, through the green school recertification process, students from DCMS identified single use plastic elimination as a necessary step in order to ensure sustainable practices within the school. Though styrofoam has been “illegal” at the school for years, with violators paying an “Earth Destruction Fee”, the prevalence of single-use plastics has been harder to combat. The elimination plan rolled out this month with a ban on single-use drink bottles, and will continue next quarter with the elimination of single-use plastic snack wrappers.
DCMS’s Eco-Club would like to thank all who participated in this event, which highlighted the degree to which plastics pollution is a problem on the island, as well as anyone who participates in similar events in the future. By taking part in International Costal Cleanup Day, students and families took the step to clean up their own community while at the same time working with others from around the world to make positive change.
Data from this event gives credibility to the need that the Eco-Club slogan proudly states, “Plastics Free by 2014″.