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Exceptional Educational Outreach (Bahamas)

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Page 1 of 1Total of 1 messages
Posted by:May 6th 2003, 01:52:14 pm
Fig Tree News TeamMarch Madness at the Centre for Exceptional Learners

The Center for Exceptional Learners is a special school for children with more severe learning challenges who need more individualized attention. Below, teacher Jessica Howington describes her students’ remarkable participation in a regional track meet against children from the regular public schools.

The athletic day was almost over. Akeem Thompson had been reluctant to run, preferring instead to compete in the softball throw. But as the time for the Under-12 Boys’ 100-metre race approached, Akeem became more excited about his role in the Central Eleuthera Primary School Track Meet. Lined up with competitors from four primary schools, Akeem couldn’t contain himself.

The boys took their places on the starting line and the teachers filed into spots on the sideline. Ready, get set, go—and they were off. As the boys raced, I found myself jumping up and down like a proud mother or coach at an Olympic event. Akeem came in fourth! The blue ribbons may always go to the fastest and strongest, but our hearts and smiles go to kids like Akeem. Fourth place may be the scourge of the primary school world—it doesn’t connote glory, nor does it permit you to advance to a bigger track meet. You’ll never be considered an athlete with fourth place out of five.

But when you can’t tie your shoes at age 11, and when other kids call you “four-eyes”, and when your speech defect makes adults ignore you or yell at you, fourth place is bigger than the sky. In reality, we are often praised for things that were handed to us by our genes or by our upbringings: normal motor skills, perfect vision, speed, and so on. But, in special education we play fair. We reward students for effort and improvement. And in Akeem’s case, his effort and improvement have been huge since he came into the Centre for Exceptional Learners in September—huge enough to turn a fourth-place ribbon into a glittering trophy.

Akeem’s triumph is why the Centre’s participation in the Central Eleuthera Track and Field Meet on March 21st was a great success. Every student took part in an event, from Jordan Sands’s 80-foot softball throw to Margaret Pratt’s stellar run in the 100-metre dash. The star of our day was Danrico Seymour, a student typically viewed as incapable of cooperation and productivity. Danrico ran in whatever races took his fancy, girls’ or boys’, long or short, usually with an enthusiastic start and an intentional, theatrical fall about 15 metres into the race.

A day spent outside is a bonus for any student. A day spent outside, competing against the “normal” kids, and following their rules is one of the big accomplishments for the students at the Centre. Danrico’s bouncing jubilation and Akeem’s race highlight the connections between school and “reality”. The strong aren’t the only ones who survive. It takes joy, hard work, and the ability to get up and begin again after a stumble. My students always get back up, which is why I cheer for them. They don’t need blue ribbons, they just need a chance.

Bahamas Adventures Teams With EEO To Keep Eleuthera Clean

Keeping Eleuthera Beautiful
EEO is pleased to announce a partnership with Bahamas Out-Island Adventures, an adventure travel company that operates out of Harbour Island. Mr. Neil Aberle, owner and operator, has agreed to work with EEO students on beach clean-up efforts on Eleuthera. The monthly clean-up outings afford students, teachers, and volunteers the opportunity to visit different areas of the island that have been affected by careless dumping at sea and on land. The activity fosters greater awareness among the participants and the local community of their environmental responsibility and the need for mindful stewardship to keep Eleuthera beautiful. The students who have already participated in the beach activity have been surprised at all the things they have found washed up on their shores—everything from light bulbs, watering cans, and shoes, to toys, broken furniture, and shipping crates.

Everyone who participates in the day-long clean up is rewarded with a kayaking trip off the beautiful shores where everyone can step back and take a good luck at their work. EEO hopes that this partnership with Out-Island Adventures will provide a solid foundation for students to educate their families and communities about the island environment and the necessity to safeguard it for the future.

For more information, or to support EEO, e-mail or

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