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Exceptional Educational Outreach (Bahamas)

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Exceptional Education Outreach Makes Real Progress With Local Kids
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Posted by:Jun 23rd 2005, 04:52:17 pm
Fig Tree News TeamOn behalf of Exceptional Education Outreach (EEO), I extend my sincere gratitude to you for your support of our special education/literacy initiatives. This year we have been able to assist more students with learning challenges, as well as increase our therapist visits. We are so proud of the accomplishments that the students have made towards reaching their potential and hope you enjoy this report.

Once again, EEO is grateful for your involvement with this important project that will help secure the future of these beautiful islands. We look forward to our continued relationship. If you have any questions about the project, please do not hesitate to email me at

Lang, executive director

Progress report:
Exceptional Education Outreach (EEO) is the only non-profit special education and literacy project that operates in the Bahamian Family Islands. EEO’s mission is to partner with the Bahamian Ministry of Education to create a sustainable special education program for children across Eleuthera and Harbour Island. The project’s vision for Harbour Island and Eleuthera is to ensure that children with special needs have access to innovative educational programs and materials to help them reach their full academic and personal potential. Through collaborations with Bahamian and American educational organizations, EEO strives to equip local teachers, parents, and volunteers with materials and skills to assess students and remediate learning challenges.

This report reviews EEO’s accomplishments during the school year 2004-2005. The aim of this report is to inform and describe goals achieved by this Family Island special education project. EEO hopes that this report will foster feedback from the Ministry of Education, superintendent, principals, and teachers of the targeted schools. Such feedback will assist in the development of a more efficient and collaborative effort in planning for the needs of the special education students in the upcoming school year. Feedback is essential not only to the administration of the EEO project but also to the continued success of the participating students.

Goals of Exceptional Education Outreach-Eleuthera, Harbour Island
• Assess physical and neurological impairments that may be interfering with a child’s academic progress and provide availability for needed continuous care.
• Conduct daily, in-school, special education sessions with special needs children. These challenges include low cognitive functioning, Pervasive Developmental Delays (PDD), Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, mild to severe retardation, apraxia, severe processing delays, hearing and speech problems.
• Build local capacity through monthly training seminars that integrate literacy-building and teaching strategies for working with children with special needs. All community members are invited to attend.
• Establish, equip and maintain special education resource rooms across Eleuthera.
• Assemble specialized resource rooms in each district of Eleuthera to aide in the professional development of parents, teachers, and volunteer community members. These rooms will be complete with professional journals, text books, instructional materials and best practice video tapes.
• Train local community volunteers to assist with in-school and after-school tutoring sessions, as well as clinical diagnosis and remediation.
• Initiate an on-going learning community in which teachers, parents, and the general public recognize and consistently address the challenges faced by special needs students.

The above efforts (i.e. training, gathering professional resources, establishing a professional network, and providing hands-on assistance) are intended to foster and sustain an independent, student-supportive, special education system in Eleuthera. The ultimate goal of this undertaking is to establish a knowledge-base whereby the responsibility for the education of children with special needs will continue on the local level, while at the same time forging links with stateside resources, on an as-needed basis.

Students and teachers from Center of Exceptional Learners in Governors Harbour

Project Accomplishments

In 1998 a special education and literacy outreach program was implemented by volunteers on Harbour Island. Within the following two years, this program spread to schools in North Eleuthera. Greater community awareness , increasing support from the Ministry of Education, and the uncovered critical need, have resulted in the expansion to six full-time special education resource rooms reaching to South Eleuthera. EEO has outfitted these rooms with specialized books and materials, specific to students with learning difficulties. The resources are available to students, teachers, parents, and the general public. Users are able to check out materials (like a library) to be used after school or at home.

In addition, professional libraries on the island are beginning to be filled with textbooks, journals, and best practice videos to provide access to the latest information A Learning center has been constructed at the St. Gregory’s Parish Hall in Gregory Town. This room is also used as a community computer center and a space for after-school or individual tutoring. More than 50 adults and 30 children have attended an Introduction to Computers course. Each week local students attend after-school sessions during which educational computer games are played to practice skills in reading, math, science, and critical thinking.

Every child enrolled in the schools in North Eleuthera District as well as those receiving assistance in the EEO resource rooms in the Central and Southern districts have been tested for auditory and visual perception difficulties. Those children exhibiting problems with these screenings were subsequently seen by a hearing specialist contracted by EEO. If further attention was needed, students were referred to professional medical care in Nassau. EEO has provided assistance, in the form of Fast Ferry tickets, to families who could not afford the trip to Nassau to bring their child to the doctor. Auditory and visual perception assessments continue to be conducted in other settlements down the island.

Professional Assistance
For those children who have exhibited severe learning and emotional difficulties, EEO has engaged Dr. Timothy Barrett, a psychologist, and Dr. Demeritte, a child neurologist, both from Nassau, to help identify new strategies for learning and behavior management. Dr. Barrett has met with students and their parents or guardians, providing them new techniques and perspectives on how to deal with learning and emotional problems. Dr. Demeritte makes semesterly visits with an interdisciplinary team of specialists. He has provided in depth evaluations (EEG’s for some) and professional reports with strategies for teachers and parents for over 15 children in need of critical attention. EEO underwrites these visits for families that cannot afford the lowered doctors costs.

There are several children across Eleuthera who experience learning challenges and social anxiety due to speech problem. To further investigate and assist these students, EEO has organized visits from speech therapists Sharon Clarke and Paula Bowleg. They provided thorough evaluations and met with parents to provide recommendations and strategies on improving speech problems.

To build the local capacity and further inform the teachers, parents, and volunteers of the difficulties faced by children with special needs, Exceptional Education Outreach organizes monthly seminars offered to all teachers on the island. During the most recent school year, three seminars were held with over 100 attendees. Scholars and professionals from the United States and the Bahamas conduct the seminars with topics including information on phonological and phonemic awareness, reading level assessment, skill sequencing, reading comprehension, behavior management, and tips for parents and teachers on how to assist exceptional children. At least two teachers from the Ministry of Education schools are required to attend and the general public is informed of these learning opportunities through advertisements and announcements at local churches. These seminars advance professional development and provide updated information that increases the capacity for local, mainstream education teachers to assess and manage their special needs students.

Parent workshops are also conducted at monthly PTA meetings or individual community sessions. Parents are briefed on EEO goals and given tips and methods on how to effectively assist their child’s academic progress with at home strategies.

Altogether, EEO teachers work with over 125 children with various learning challenges on Eleuthera and Harbour Island. The students are permitted to receive this individual instruction in small groups during a portion of their regular school day. To further supplement a child’s academic progress, EEO teachers give regular updates and suggestions to each student’s mainstream teacher. At the end of every school term, a post-assessment screening is conducted on students participating in the EEO program. The results from the 2004-2005 school year indicate that all students have improved their reading skills, some even quadrupling their reading level.

Before the initiation of EEO programs, special education services were not available to the children in need of critical attention on Eleuthera and Harbour Island. The personal and academic improvements demonstrated by students in EEO programs have motivated teachers and parents across the islands to implement new approaches to working with children of varying abilities. EEO has created a solid foundation and network to assist special needs children in Eleuthera and has created a base model for other Family Islands. The success of the programs has motivated the Ministry and the National Commission on Special Education (NCOSE) to develop similar programs on the other Family Islands modelling the system developed on Eleuthera.

Accomplishments up to 2005:
• Approximately 1,200 students from all districts of Eleuthera have been given a hearing screening. Upon recommendations of teachers and parents, 200 students have been given a vision screening.

• Further student evaluations and assistance in remediation strategies have been given by an audiologist, a pediatric neurologist, a speech therapist, and a child psychologist.

• EEO has established and equipped seven resource rooms. Each resource room is equipped with graduating level phonics books, workbooks, learning games and accompanying education material to reach the various learning styles of the children receiving assistance through EEO.

EEO serves the following schools:

Gregory Town Primary School North Eleuthera Primary School, Bluff
Harbour Island All Age School James Cistern Primary School
Governors Harbour Primary School
Center for Exceptional Learners, Governors Harbour
Weymss Bight Primary School

• A Computer Learning Center with internet connection has been constructed in Gregory Town for after-school and summer programs.

• Since its start, EEO has organized 22 professional seminars with over 150 teachers attending. The Ministry of Education Eleuthera District has mandated a half-day of school for certain EEO’s seminars so that all teachers may learn valuable new skills about increasing literacy and special education strategies.

• Over 30 Parent workshops have been conducted with more than 100 parents having attended. EEO representatives also make monthly presentations at school PTA meetings. Transportation is provided through EEO from the settlements in the Central and South of Eleuthera.

• A professional library with various Special Education and current literacy information has been established in Savannah Sound Resource Center. Similar libraries with teacher reference materials are also available within the established resource rooms in Harbour Island and North Eleuthera Primary School, and at Gregory Town After School Center.

• To date, EEO has worked with over 15 community volunteers and a consistent core of Ministry teachers. EEO provides Ministry teachers with targeted materials and has installed computers in the special education resource rooms of North Eleuthera Primary School, Harbour Island All age School, Center for Exceptional Learning, Gregory Town Primary School, and Central Eleuthera High school.

• A partnership with the Gregory Town Public Library has been established to further the goals of EEO and increase literacy outreach.

• A partnership with “Out Island Adventures” has been established to provide the children with information and practice of environmental conservation. Beach Clean ups across Eleuthera are paired with reward kayak trips to motivate and educate the children participating.

• For community awareness, EEO distributes a bi- monthly newsletter, “Opening Books and Minds,” to all settlements in Eleuthera. Two local Web sites also feature EEO activities.

• EEO collaborates with NCOSE and Ministry of Education in establishing similar programs in other Family Islands. EEO is committed to assisting with the development of the first special education system for the Family Islands,

The following individuals currently work with EEO:
• Ms. Lang Fincher, Director
• Mr. Bill Holland, Teacher, Ministry of Education Teacher, Center for Exceptional Learning
• Ms. Gloria Banks, Teacher, Gregory Town Primary and North Eleuthera Primary
• Ms. Crystal Lawson, Teacher, Harbour Island All Age School
• Mrs. Joann Cambridge, Teacher, James Cistern Primary and Governors Harbour Primary
• Ms. Mozina Smith, Teacher, Weymss Bight Primary
• Mr. William Simmons, Teacher Aide, North Eleuthera
• Ellie Berens, Teacher Aide, Harbour Island

Seminar Presenters

The following individuals were participants in the monthly seminar series hosted by Exceptional Education Outreach. Seminars are attended by teachers across Eleuthera and Harbour Island as well as interested community members. Often Parent Workshops are also hosted in conjunction with their visit.

• Dr. Judith Gold, Project LEARNS , Bank Street College, NYC
• Dr. Jodi Marshall, Reading Specialist, University of Miami
• Dr. Sharon Kossacks, Professor, Florida International University
• Dr. Judy Cohen, Elementary Education Professor, Florida International University
• Dr. Timothy Barrett, psychologist, Nassau
• Mrs. Gail Wisdom, Director, Academia School, Nassau
• Blair Cochran, Literacy Program Coordinator, Dade County Public Schools
• Carolyn Rasmussen, Pearson Learning Group, Florida
• Jennifer Alexiou, Speech therapist, Nassau
• William Holland, Special Educator, Eleuthera
• Dr. Alison Shook, Reading Specialist, University of Miami, Florida
• Lang Fincher, Special Educator, Harbour Island
• Dr.Demeritte, Pediatric Neurologist, Nassau
• Mrs. Susy Siel, Librarian /Media Specialist, Wisconsin
• Dr. Sharon Clarke, Speech therapist, Nassau
• Dr. Paula Bowleg, Speech therapist , Nassau

Visiting Medical Professionals

These professionals have performed evaluations on several students in the EEO program who require additional medical assessment beyond who EEO clinicians can do. Initial consultations have been followed up with recommendations and additional visits to assess progress.

• Psychologist, Dr. Barrett, Nassau
• Hearing specialist, Dr. Benabe, Nassau
• Pediatric Neurologist, Dr. Demeritte, Nassau
• Pediatric Nurse, Michelle Hanna, Nassau
• Infant Stimulation, Cynthia Stanko Nassau
• Occupational Therapist, Vanessa Williams, Nassau
• Occupational Therapist, Andrea Moss, Nassau
• Speech Therapist, Dr. Sharon Clarke, Nassau
• Speech Therapist/Audiologist, Dr. Paula Bowleg, Nassau


Students in the EEO program have been tested using the following screenings:
Dolch Assessment
Wepman Auditory Discrimination
Keystone Telebinocular
Audiogram Screening,
Slosson Oral Reading Test
Key Math Computation
Eckwell Shanker Phonemic Awareness and Phonics Assessment

EEO Board Members

Mrs. Bernadette Christie Ms. Elizabeth Easton
Mr. Peter Vlasov Ms. Lang Fincher
Ms. Jane Fincher Ms. Karla Cosgriff
Mr. Wallace Tutt Mr. Colin Farrell
Consulting Board Members:
Mr. Craig Symonette
Ms. Crystal Lawson
Dr. Robert Moore

In- Kind Contributions for the 2005 Spring Fundraiser

Bristol Cellars
Conde Nast Traveller
Coral Sands Hotel
Daniels Family
Gold Aviation
Harl Taylor
Jane Fincher
Mario Leon
Mary Lou Designs
Ocean View
Ocean Drive Magazine
Princess Street Art Gallery
The Rock House
Run Away Hill
Sip Sip

Artists that contributed to Silent Auction

Elizabeth Berry
Giles Bensimone
Alban Christ
Jonty Davies
Arthur Elgort
Shari Erickson
Fabrizio Ferri
Ray Gaulthier
Oberto Gili
Marco Guerra
Pamela Hanson
Sally Hayes
John Huba
Pam Johnson
Thierry Lemare
Patricia Lusk
James Mc Grath
Raymond Meier
Mary Peterson
Quince Quaintance
Joann Ritter
Graham Schearer
Carter Smith
Pam Thompson
Diego Uchitel
Steven Scott Young

Financial Contributions

Mc Crea Foundation
William and Susan Oberndorf
Mark Hollowesko
Drexler Family Foundation
Windermere Foundation
Peter Vlasov
Julian Hayward
Chris Blackwell
Liz and Rodney Berens
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Stanton
Tom Grizetti
Michael Maroone
Patrick Hicks
Diane Kent
John and Felicia Eberle
James and Jodi Marshall
James Moore
Rowland Coffee Roasters
Carolyn Thomas
Lyford Cay Foundation
William and Judy Borten
Andrew Tobias and Charles Nolan
Dunmore School Foundation
Brenda Barry
Alejandro Zubillaga
Mark Messier
Howard Simpson
McCrea Foundation
Jill Weninger
Carlos Freyre
Nolan Patrick Howington
Elaine Duncan
Joseph Bruno
Kevin Gray
Gilles Prod’Homme
Leandro Vasquez
Mr. Howington
Peter Vlasov
Mary Loise
Diller Von Furstenberg Family Foundation
Nathan Browning
Scheerer Family Foundation
Tom Daniel Electric
Philip Miller ( 2003)
John Noel ( 2003)

In-kind Contributions

Hudson Family Foundation
Bahamas House Inn
Rock House
Briland Modem Fund -Kimberly King-Burns
Continental Connection
Catherine Lippincott
Lloyd Hooper
Hill Top Garage
Shake Productions
Vincent Sullivan

A. Improvement Chart:
This chart indicates the progress made by a selection of individual children in the EEO program. The names are not indicated but each set of before and after lines (red and green) represent an individual child’s progress. The scores reflect, in percentages, each child’s mastery level of the Reading Assessment.

Not all children were represented because this is a reading assessment that is not applicable to the more severely delayed EEO students. Those children with more severe impairments that were not applicable for this assessment have been given more in depth assessments by members of the interdisciplinary team (Pediatric neurologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist).

B. Letter of endorsement from Bernadette Christie ( First Lady of the Bahamas)

“Education is the single most powerful weapon to change the world.”
~Nelson Mandela

You have helped make a difference and we are grateful for your care.

Thank you,
Exceptional Education Outreach

Contact us online at