An important pillar for the development and enhancement of human capital is education. Investing in education benefits both young people and nations. The Caribbean region, which is home to millions of young people between the ages of 15 and 29, is no exception to this. Investing in education in this region can assist nations in creating more durable, effective, and peaceful communities.
Ocean View Academy is the result of manifestations of Caribbean dreams. It is an exceptional school located on the beautiful island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. It was founded by Todd Chisholm and his wife, Kimberley Babin, who have extensive experience as educators, including 35 years of teaching and principal experience both in Canadian and Caribbean schools.
Their passion for creating a school that provides the best education to their students has resulted in Ocean View Academy, a school that boasts individualized attention, practical learning opportunities, STEM education, the use of alternative teaching methods, inclusion, mentoring, and impactful field trips.
Ensuring Better Personalized Attention
This school year, there are ten students that attend Ocean View Academy in grades 3 to 9. Both the Ontario (Canadian) Curriculum and the Acellus American online programs are offered at the school. One of the key components that make Ocean View Academy stand out is its small class sizes, allowing the teachers to provide personalized attention to each student.
By getting to know the students and working collaboratively with them to identify and set goals, the school is able to provide individualized education that allows each student to succeed to their true potential. Celebrations and appreciation of reaching goals foster a sense of inclusion, positivity, and motivation among the students.
A Stage to Showcase Culinary Skills
While academics are a crucial part of Ocean View Academy’s curriculum, practical learning opportunities play a significant role in enriching their education. The school organizes bi-monthly community luncheons, where students have an opportunity to put their culinary skills into practice and use math concepts while following recipes and measuring ingredients.
This creates a sense of community and belonging among the students and helps them to strengthen their social and personal development. Some of the luncheons included:
- Easter: The students prepared a glazed ham and scalloped potatoes dish.
- Thanksgiving: The students cooked a traditional turkey dish, served with creamy mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables.
- Spaghetti and Meatballs: The students prepared a classic Italian dish, complete with garlic bread.
- Savory and Sweet French Crepes: The students made both savory and sweet crepes, filling them with ingredients like ham and cheese, Nutella, and fresh fruit.
- Tacos and Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies: The students made tacos with all the fixings, including cheese, lettuce, salsa, and sour cream. For dessert, they baked delicious chocolate chip cookies.
- Lasagna and Caesar Salad: The students prepared a hearty lasagna dish, served with a fresh Caesar salad.
Additionally, STEM education is emphasized at Ocean View Academy, aimed at preparing students for future jobs in the 21st-century workforce. Students learn about subjects such as rocks and minerals, human body systems, and volcanoes by engaging in hands-on activities and project-based learning.
One recent example is when a grade three student built a working volcano and presented it to his classmates and special guests, honing his public speaking and presentation skills.
An Alternative Way of Teaching
Alternative teaching methods also make Ocean View Academy an outstanding school. Teachers use a range of methods such as technology (iPads, Chromebooks, Laptops, etc.) and assistive apps, along with Google Classroom and a Big Screen TV for casting both teacher lessons and students’ work.
Group work and hands-on activities are used extensively to reach all students. Morning meetings kick off with a 10-minute Daily Calm mindfulness meditation and mandala coloring to allow students to reduce stress and anxiety, boost mood and energy levels and increase focus and attention.
The morning meeting slide that follows has a fun fact of the day, a problem, riddle or joke of the day, and a student survey question. A social-emotional video, Ted-Ed or ‘Kindness 101 with Steve Hartman’ video, is then shared in order to promote further critical thinking and discussion among students.
Fostering a Respectful Environment
Inclusivity and a welcoming environment are prioritized at the school. The teachers foster an atmosphere that is respectful of diversity and celebrates the differences of all students. Older students act as mentors to younger students, imparting valuable life skills and building their self-confidence.
The school also involves parents and community members, such as bringing Archive Officer David Richardson from the St. Maarten Government to speak to the students on the importance of archives and preserving history. The students found his presentation on the history of salt production and slavery on the island to be very engaging. Collaboration between school and community ensures a more comprehensive education, which helps students tap into their full potential.
Furthermore, field trips are considered an essential part of the school’s curriculum. Field trips allow students to learn outside of the classroom and to experience new things. The school organized field trips that allowed students to learn about St. Maarten’s culture, history, and environment while fostering teamwork skills. The horseback riding trip, the cooking class on making Sushi, the visit to ParrotVille Bird Park, the Steel drum lessons and the kayaking trip each facilitated unique learning opportunities while contributing to students’ growth.
Emphasizing Hidden Talents
Ocean View Academy places a strong emphasis on the arts. The school’s monthly group art activity is a testament to this commitment and provides students with exciting opportunities to develop their creativity, art skills, and cultural appreciation. Students engage in a range of art techniques, including blending acrylic paints in unique, creative combinations and working with color harmoniously to create stunning seascape pictures.
Other popular art activities at Ocean View Academy include Carnival Mask Making and Easter Egg Decorating, which allow students to explore different mediums and techniques while fostering their creativity and unique artistic expression.
Like the Arts, the Physical Education Program is also given great importance. Every Thursday afternoon, students have the opportunity to engage in activities related to swimming and pool games, as well as outdoor and indoor games that promote fitness and team-building skills.
The school also hosts Spirit Days such as Sint Maarten Day, Halloween, and Wacky Hair Day to promote school spirit amongst students. Students also participate in a Christmas Secret Santa gift exchange to foster camaraderie and build bonds between classmates.
These supportive and community-building events are evidence of Ocean View Academy’s commitment to creating a fun and engaging learning environment that instills valuable skills that go beyond the classroom.
Holistic Development of Each Student
Ocean View Academy prioritizes quality education and the holistic development of each student. With its dedicated, experienced teachers, along with practical learning opportunities, STEM education, inclusive environment, alternative teaching methods, and impactful field trips, the school’s curriculum offers students a well-rounded education.
Small classroom sizes ensure that each student receives personalized attention. Alongside all this, community involvement ensures that students receive the best all-round education possible.